In 2016, while conducting dental industry market research, Dave Monahan made an unsettling discovery: Uninsured people were neglecting their oral health because they believed they couldn’t afford dental care.
“Dentistry got pushed into the corner of the health care industry,” Monahan said. “Oral care is so important. Many issues stem from poor oral hygiene. Your smile is important for your confidence and quality of life.”
On the other side of the coin, Monahan learned, dental practices felt trapped by red-tape lined insurance companies that paid a pittance in reimbursements — if they paid at all.
By 2018, Monahan launched Kleer, a 46-person company on a mission to liberate dental care from insurers. Based in Wayne, Pennsylvania, Kleer offers affordable, customizable subscription-based dental care memberships to uninsured patients. The platform is a win-win for both patients and dental offices. Patients receive comprehensive dental care that is affordable, and dental practices can provide better care and generate recurring income.
“Dental insurers skim 40% off of your premium; only 60% goes to care,” Monahan said. “We cut out the insurance middleman.”
Kleer has signed up 7,000 dentists since launching in 2018. But there was a kink in the process. To use Kleer’s platform, the already-overwhelmed staff at dental offices had to manually add patient and subscription revenue data from Kleer into their own practice management system [PMS]. This added to their workload and increased the risk of human error.
To help its customers work smarter, not harder, the team created a proprietary integration software, called Kleer Intelligence™, that works seamlessly with an office’s internal practice management software to streamline the process by automating tedious tasks, like posting payments and filling in patient data. It also automatically markets the Kleer membership to patients at the practice that are a good fit for a membership plan. And it gathers a host of valuable data, such as analyzing the revenue generated by insurance companies to understand whether or not the relationship is profitable.
The highly complex integration solution, which launched in October, took 10 months to develop and is “a huge differentiator for Kleer,” said Paul Biancaniello, Kleer’s CTO.
“The biggest challenge was building software capable of integrating with hundreds of different patient management systems,” Biancaniello said. “We had to build an entirely new, scalable infrastructure to store, clean, aggregate, manage and analyze all of this data, and incorporate as much member information as we could to make the integration seamless — names, dates, ages, typos.”
While Biancaniello wrote and led the creation of the data algorithms, the team tapped backend software engineer Phil Son to build the data pipeline and API through which Kleer could export client data into their own system where they would access and analyze it.
“From a tech side, we took something inherently old [PMS] and integrated it with a modern software platform,” Son said. “It was a massive undertaking — the planning and research to create, future-proof and secure a new, scalable data infrastructure.”
Initially, participating practices will feel the biggest change in terms of the software’s ability to automate tasks and stimulate growth, but over time, the performance data will enable them to make informed strategic and financial decisions for greater profitability.
“The data,” Son said — “that’s where the true business value lies.”
For Son, the problem-solving aspect of the project was simultaneously overwhelming and rewarding due to the creative freedom he was given to choose the tech stack as he saw fit. The new infrastructure achieves two major goals. One, it funnels PMS data through multiple pipelines and stores it in various data lakes and warehouses for analytical and machine learning applications. And two, it provides a scalable API for large PMS data read and write operations.
Kleer’s VP of customer success, Dianna McHugh, spent the last year fielding requests from clients eager for features like the ones included in the Kleer Intelligence™ release. Throughout the development of the software, McHugh’s role was to keep the voice of Kleer’s customers front and center.
“I’m extremely hyped,” McHugh said. “Customers have been asking for some of these features for years. There are so many things we are now able to do for them that they don’t even know about yet.”
In speaking to members of the Kleer team, every single one has a palpable passion for the project, backed by an equally intense and focused professional history. Monahan worked on fighter aircraft and military drones as a mechanical and electrical engineer, then built, scaled and sold wearables startup FitLinxx, before founding Kleer. Biancaniello has a Ph.D. in physics and previously led projects in machine learning for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. He also cofounded and sold a health messaging startup, SenseHealth. McHugh has proudly worked in customer success for the entirety of her decade-long career, fueled by a human-first approach to making customers happy. And Son, a Rutgers graduate with enterprise-level medtech experience, dove straight into the deep end of engineering when he took on his role at Kleer.
As the team grows, there is a wealth of opportunity for mid- to senior-level front and backend engineers, Python experts and data scientists who have an equally-rigorous work ethic, and are creative, confident and fearless.
“At this stage in our growth, we’re trying to move fast,” Biancaniello said. “ We need people who can wear many hats, work independently, who are reliable and consistent, and who are open to criticism and discussion.”
The company culture is as supportive as it is fast-paced. And everyone, even the CEO, gets their hands dirty.
“I have no problem doing the dirty work,” Monahan said. “I’ll go as deep as I need to go. Not just delegate and walk away, but provide support. When people leave here, I want them to be in a better position than they were before — I really enjoy building companies around that philosophy.”
Looking at the bigger picture, Monahan and his team take pride in the work they do at Kleer. “You’re improving access to health care,” he said. “It feels good to do this work. You make an impact.”
If you’re interested in making dental care more accessible for the masses and think you have what it takes to thrive in the fast-paced environment, check out Kleer’s career opportunities.
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