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CareZone announces freebie for epilepsy care cases

Jonathan Schwartz's startup announces a third partnership, part of an effort to promote his company, gain insight into patient needs, and of course attract subscribers.

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Jonathan Schwartz
Jonathan Schwartz Stephen Shankland/CNET

CareZone, a startup for organizing and sharing personal information, announced a promotion that grants free access to those with a family member with epilepsy.

Chief Executive Jonathan Schwartz, who previously led Sun Microsystems, said a partnership with the Epilepsy Foundation will match what CareZone has done with groups dealing with autism and Parkinson's disease.

(For a look at the executive and his views on Oracle, Apple, Amazon, and Intel, check CNET's accompanying Q&A with Schwartz.)

Schwartz hopes CareZone will catch on as a way to let people privately share information such as instructions for babysitters, emergency lists of online banking passwords for family members, medication schedules, and treatment records from doctors and pharmacies. It'll cost $5 per month or $48 per year per person being monitored, but for now the service is free during an introductory period and for cases where a person has a particular affliction.

Schwartz clearly enjoys the idea of a startup that helps people. What he's concerned about, he says, is "how do I help you connect with your loved ones, your siblings, your spouse, and get organized and stay connected with the stuff that matters." But he's got a business to run, too, and sees giving free services to particular communities as an investment for the company, several of whose 12 employees work out of Schwartz's San Francisco house.

Says Schwartz:

What we've been doing with the autism community and the Parkinson's community and the epilepsy community is listening. We created a relationship with Autism Speaks. They're an organization that truly understands. They have a million likes on Facebook. Other than Justin Bieber I don't know anybody who has a million likes on Facebook. When they promoted CareZone to their audience, all the sudden we started getting parents who had children somewhere on the autism spectrum. We got feedback we didn't know that could be helpful for a parent with an autistic child.

Parkinson's has another great example. Parkinson's patients tend to take the same medicine over a very long period of time and step up doses. So we can do a better job tracking their dosage. These are things we didn't know until we create relationships with these guys. It's an opportunity for us: No. 1, they help us reach their audience, and No. 2, we get a lot of learning and a lot of adoption out of it. And by the way, parents who have a child on the autistic spectrum often have a child who is not on the autistic spectrum and often have parents who need to be taken care of.

And of course, creating an account to care for an autistic child is free, but the account for the other children means money for CareZone.

At least after the freebie period ends. The company had planned to offer free services only during a trial period lasting through March 15, but Schwartz said the company concluded it was worthwhile extending it.

CareZone logo

"We got a lot more value out of our early users than we expected, so we figured if we cut it off, we're not going to get that," Schwartz said. "We also are beginning to get a little more clever with our revenue model. We want to find things where we ask users, 'Would you pay for this?' and we get a resounding yes at a 90 percent level, not at a 50 percent level."

Electronic health records have been a touchy subject, in part because of privacy concerns and regulatory restrictions on information sharing. Google and Microsoft both backed out of health records initiatives.

Schwartz believes that electronic health records will eventually be integrated directly into CareZone, though. It'll likely start with pharmacies, though, since hospital computer systems are a mess and doctors have a huge variety of software.

"Hospitals are fragmented, they're distributed, they barely prioritize IT [information technology], because that's not going to save a life today. That great new surgeon might, that great new medical procedure might, but their IT rarely will," Schwartz said.

And working with doctors' computer systems is as unpleasant as extending software to Google's Android mobile operating system, he added.

"The iPhone is so easy to support. Now I've got to pick one of the 2,000 Android variations to support. That's a nightmare," Schwartz said. "When we go connect back into the enterprise, we're probably more likely to connect back into your prescription at the pharmacy than we are at to connect with your doctor. Your doctor has his own IT, as does every other doctor in the city you live in. I don't want to spend my time doing enterprise integration, because that's a great way to spend a whole lot of money and not have a lot to show for it."