Across the United States, racial and ethnic minority groups often experience higher rates of poor health and chronic conditions. This stems, in part, from a lack of access to quality health care and a lack of education about health-related issues.
Marlon Ross, founder and chief executive officer of Milwaukee-based Wellacy Health, hopes his platform can help marginalized communities achieve better outcomes when trying to reach their health goals.
Ross, a native of Chicago’s south side, recalls going to the doctor as a child with his mother – there were no childcare options for her – and the substandard care she received.
“We were poor. I think that was key because I had a front-row seat to witnessing the devastating impact that poor access to health care can have on a community,” said Ross.
Ross has created a software platform that aims to improve health care delivery and patient outcomes for those with chronic diseases like diabetes or obesity. Once a patient sees their health care provider, that medical professional can recommend they use Wellacy Health’s platform for further support.
Using each patient’s diagnosis, a care team gives the user tailored feedback and explanations through an app to help them reach their health care goal. That care team is made up of wellness professionals, such as health coaches. There is also a care team member focused on mental health. Ross had been bootstrapping the company until receiving a $100,000 investment through the Northwestern Mutual Black Founder Accelerator.
“You have this issue in our health care system today where people don’t have the knowledge and tools to properly manage their conditions, and they don’t have personalized education to understand what’s going on with their own bodies,” said Ross. “We’re basically filling in that gap.”
He always had a desire to build his own tech company and knew he wanted to come back home to the Midwest. Ross did a tour of the region in 2021 and decided he wanted to make Milwaukee his company’s headquarters.
“The Midwest is making a really concerted effort to find, fund and cultivate very diverse tech ecosystems,” he said.
Ross hopes to have the pilot version of the platform launched in quarter one of 2023. Wellacy Health’s platform will be piloted through a physician practice that has approximately 10,000 patients.
“It’s literally an engagement platform that helps patients by providing them with resources they’ve never had access to before,” said Ross.
Founder: Marlon Ross
Founded: February 2022
Service: Provides a health care software platformEmployees: 3
Goal: Launch pilot platform Experience: Financial services and investment banking