Today we’re launching Nuna, with the mission of making high-quality, affordable healthcare accessible to everyone. We aim to do this by working with self-insured employers, health plans, and the government to deliver insights from the stories told by data.
Kimong and Nuna
Nuna is best introduced by explaining the origin of the company’s name. My brother, Kimong, is severely autistic, has grand-mal epilepsy, and is completely mute save for three words: 엄마 eomma, 아빠 appa, and 누나 nuna: mom, dad, and older sister.
When Kimong was eight years old, he had his first grand-mal episode, at Disneyland, and our lives were forever changed. This was the beginning of countless doctor’s visits, decades of medication experimentation, and late-night emergency room visits. As the daughter of Korean immigrants with limited English skills, I became the primary interface for my brother’s care. I was nine years old.
The stark reality is that without Medicaid, taking care of Kimong would have plunged my family into bankruptcy. In addition to paying for medication and doctor visits, my brother suffered a seizure every month—traumatic in and of itself—which required ambulance rides that cost a small fortune.
My parents learned about Medicaid through friends in the Korean community, and, as soon as I could, I signed my brother up. Finally, we got care we could afford, but my family also found itself thrust into a broken system.
We were forced to contend with the inconsistent treatment—some providers were terrific, some were terrible; not passing along info was the norm—that exists throughout the industry. These experiences fueled my passion to improve American healthcare.
Through my work as one of the early product managers on Google Health, I saw firsthand that healthcare data is too often stored in data warehouses that act more like vaults: it’s hard to put data in and take data out, making data next to impossible to work with. Nuna’s fundamental belief is that we can learn how to make healthcare broadly accessible and of high value by working with data on a flexible, integrated, accessible platform.
By examining this data, we can take the first step to improving our system by shedding a light on the true cost, quality, and experience of care received by millions of Americans. With the creation of a uniquely powerful data platform, Nuna ingests, aggregates, and analyzes information at an unprecedented scale to provide exactly these critical insights into the healthcare industry. Our hope is that these insights will give a voice to everyday Americans and their experience of the system, providing a catalyst for policymakers and payers, including employers and health plans, to identify problems and opportunities across demographics, enrollment trends, geographics, and more.
A Historic Data Platform for Medicaid and CHIP
As a hugely exciting first initiative, we’re announcing today our partnership with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the completion of the first comprehensive data platform in Medicaid’s history, which covers over 74.5 million lives from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. For the first time in the program’s history, federal policymakers will have regular access to high quality, reliable state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) data. But this is just the first step. Federal policymakers have the chance to gain previously unattainable insights—such as the most impacted areas of the opioid epidemic; or how the care patterns evolve for a child in Flint, Michigan after her neighborhood’s drinking water is tainted; or the length of time it would take a Medicaid beneficiary to get to a doctor from home.
We’re also thrilled to work with some of the most progressive self-insured employers. Our plan is to bring clarity to health plan utilization, and to identify opportunities to improve employee health and curb overall costs. Additionally, our team is collaborating with health plans such as Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) to help them improve the quality and affordability of care for their members, and to create cutting-edge products for network design and physician performance.
We’re Just Getting Started
But, while we’re excited by what we’ve accomplished so far, we’re just getting started. I’m also happy to announce that Nuna has raised over $90 million from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and John Doerr to help us achieve our goals, and to expand our work with employers and health plans.
On behalf of myself and my co-founder David Chen, I’d like to thank our dedicated team of 110 engineers, data scientists, designers, and experts in economics, health plans, government, law, health policy, corporate operations, privacy, and security for their hard work and commitment over the last few years. When we started Nuna in 2010, we couldn’t have imagined being where we are today.
As we forge our path ahead, I’m deeply thankful for the lessons my brother and family have taught me. It was Kimong’s experience that helped me to embark on the effort that I’m most proud of, deeply committed to, and personally connected with: helping others get the care they need. It is, by no means an easy road, and every decision that we make carries the responsibility to do by right by those who often don’t have a voice. But that’s a responsibility we’re proud to take on.
Today is just the beginning.