Report: Outcome Health employees misled advertisers
Several employees of Outcome Health, a health IT startup with a $5.6 billion valuation, misled its advertisers with manipulated information, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.
The Chicago-based company was founded in 2006 by Shradha Agarwal and Rishi Shah, and is seen as one of the few health IT unicorns. Outcome Health’s mission is to place iPad-style tablets or touch screens in provider offices, with the idea of educating patients on specific needs.
In the May round of funding, 50 investors bet on Outcome Health, including: Alphabet’s growth-equity fund, Goldman Sachs and CapitalG.
However, the WSJ report claims that from 2014 to 2016, the company charged for more screen installations than were actually performed. Further, employees doctored screenshots meant to demonstrate certain ads had played in a particular provider’s office.
“No executives were involved in this in any way,” an Outcome Health spokesperson told Healthcare IT News. “It’s related only to a few employees.”
The report also alleged that employees supplied inflated metrics and inaccurate reports on where the ads ran and the effectiveness of each. As a result, the misleading data may have helped Outcome Health boost sales. Some high profile clients include Bristol-Myers Squibb and Novo Nordisk.
For example, one of Outcome Health’s clients, Johnson & Johnson, reportedly “complained to Outcome after its field representatives noticed there were no screens in some offices where J&J was being charged to run ads for an arthritis drug, according to documents and people familiar with the dispute.”
As a result of the report, “three employees are on leave, pending review,” said an Outcome Health spokesperson.
According to WSJ: the company “strongly denies having a practice of misreporting campaign information to customers.”
“We appreciate the hard work of our dedicated employees and want to reiterate that adherence to our policies is not optional -- anyone who violates them will be held accountable,” according to an emailed statement.
As a result of the report, Outcome Health will, effective immediately, “provide every customer the capability to include a third-party BPA Worldwide audit on every program we sell so they can fully verify all campaign delivery.”
Further, the company is improving its transparency and integrity of its data with more checks and balances throughout the automation and analytics processes.
Outcome Health has reportedly hired an attorney to address these allegations.
In Sept., Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel held a press conference to announce Outcome Health would be adding 2,000 jobs in the next five years.