Exclusive: Healthcare startup Vitals brings in new CEO

March 10, 2015, 1:25 PM UTC
Courtesy of Vitals

Vitals, a health care startup that helps patients find doctors and medical facilities based on their patient ratings and price, is headed into a new stage of growth as it brings on a new chief executive to run the nearly seven-year-old company.

Heyward Donigan, previously CEO of ValueOptions, a company that specializes in mental wellbeing and recovery, will take over the top role from Vitals co-founder and chairman Mitch Rothschild. Vitals also announced that Jeffery Boyd, the chairman of the Priceline Group, will join as an advisor and board director.

“I was enamored at what we [at Vitals] could do to transform health care,” Donigan told Fortune. “Until the consumer is actually the one selecting the providers using good and insightful information, we won’t figure out how to adequately control costs.”

Vitals is one of many sites, including Castlight Health (CSLT) and ZocDoc, that help patients choose the best doctors or facilities in order to get better results. Vitals has built up a deep database of doctors and facilities across the country and is able to cross reference both patient reviews and price data to recommend the best option for a particular customer.

Vitals has grown exponentially, nearly quadrupling its revenue over the past three years, according to the company. Vitals has more than 10 million individual consumers and 26 million health plan participants visit the site each month to optimize their medical decisions. It has secured $45.3 million in funding to date from firms like Cardinal Partners, Athena and Greycroft Partners.

Donigan plans to expand Vitals reach through its website to give patients access to not only ratings on various doctors but also details on their specializations and volume of care, like how many shoulder surgeries an orthopedic surgeon has done. Volume is especially indicative of quality in situations where, essentially, practice makes perfect, such as surgeries.

Vitals new CEO Heyward Donigan.
Courtesy of Vitals

“It’s not just about cost but about experience, references, ratings and volume,” Donigan said. “We will have a number of filters by which members can make decisions against pieces of information that are indicative of quality. Very few people have attempted this, and it’s a game changer for health care.”

In her previous role at ValueOptions, Donigan grew the company to over $1 billion in revenue before it was acquired by Boston-based Beacon Health Strategies in December. Previous to ValueOptions, she helped craft Premera Blue Cross’ strategy that eventually provided customers access to the cost and quality of available practitioners.

By bringing Heyward and Boyd on board, Vitals is pushing into the next phase of growth that aims to engage users even more actively and further target health plans. Vitals bought smaller health care startup Compass in October that opens up the opportunity to expand Vitals’ reward system.

Compass’ technology could add a rewards component on top of Vitals search and recommendation capabilities. Once a patient chooses a less expensive but still high-quality option for a treatment, the service then calculates how much money is saved and shares a portion of that directly with the patient. The direct cash payback gives health care shoppers more incentive to log onto Vitals site and search for the best service.

Vitals will tap the expertise of newly hired advisor and board member Boyd to help expand this incentive. Boyd’s experience growing Priceline’s (PCLN) online travel marketplace into a $63 billion company provides the background and knowledge Vitals needs to expand its burgeoning e-commerce-like model.

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