In this the third of a series of stories profiling presenting companies at the Council for Entrepreneurial Development’s annual Tech Venture conference, Closed Loop Healthcare Systems President Chris Rosati explains how his company plans to use social media to improve healthcare.

What is your “elevator pitch” you will use at the CED Tech Venture Conference?

Closed Loop has been called the Facebook of healthcare.

As the prevalence of obesity and obesity-related diseases rise, so do the cost. That impacts not only the individual, but also the payers and increasingly the care providers. Staying engaged with members and providing them the resources they need is essential if those invested in health want to improve outcomes. That presents a challenge for the payer, because they simply do not have the ability to communicate effectively to their members.

Organizations license our health hub and make it available to their members/patients. Like Facebook, the core of our offering is a social network, or more accurately a social health network. Individuals can anonymously interact with and ‘friend’ others who share their goals and challenges. That ability to share, to find and give support and learn what works for others keeps users coming back.

Also like Facebook, users can add on applications – exercise, BMI, calorie trackers, etc.

And the payer can communicate with their members efficiently and effectively.

We plan to work with health systems as well.

What is the “secret sauce” of your firm that sets you apart?

Social networking is the secret sauce. Health seekers want a supportive community. They need it to succeed. Give it to them, and they;ll keep coming back. Now you have a captive audience. Build on that by offering additional resources, all accessed from one spot.

Who are your “heroes” in business? How are you trying to emulate them?

I admire Joe and Chaz at Bronto for creating a successful business with an incredible culture. That’s missing in so many businesses today. I want Closed Loop to be known as much for being a great place to work as it will be for helping people improve their health.

What triggered your initial thoughts about launching a company? How has that original thinking/goal changed or evolved since your launch?

I was working with the Rice Diet Program in the late nineties. Every day, people were visiting the program’s website in search of help. But 99% could not afford to come to Durham. I needed a way to capture their attention and keep them coming back. My goal then was to keep them engaged long enough to sell them products they could afford.

So I created an online community, where people could get recipes, access articles on diet-related topics, track their weight, and keep a food and exercise journal – all in one spot.

But I knew from my experience that the single best way to keep them coming back, was to give them the ability to connect with each other. So included what today would be called a social network, or more accurately a social health network.

To date over 30,000 people have signed up. Many of them have been coming back for years, posting hundreds of times. And I have the ability to send them messages with a few clicks.

It took me a while, but in late 2010 I realized that those with a financial interest in improving population health should be doing the same thing I did at the Rice Diet.

[Rosati, a graduate of N.C. State, is a former executive at GMA Healthcare, TSI healthcare and AllScripts]

Why did you choose to launch a company in what has been a difficult economic environment since 2008?

I never even considered the economic environment. I saw a need, I knew I had a unique approach – the right approach – and the expertise to help sole the problem.

Why do you believe investors should be interested in your firm?

To make money. Take a minute to exam our market, our model and our team, and the smart money knows we’re applying a proven way to solve a costly problem to a market that needs a solution today. It can grow quickly and offer a quick exit.

How much funding are you seeking, if any, and how would the funding be used?

We’re raising $500k. We’ll use that to grow both the development and sales teams.

How much funding have you raised to date? How much funding in grants (please specify)? Who are your investors?

Closing a seed round of $100k soon from friends and family. We’re a finalist in the BCBSNC Health Innovation Challenge. Winners receive grants from BCBSNC.

Are you hiring at the present time, and if so how many positions are you looking to fill?