David Weeks, Senior VP/CTO of NASCO interview at Converge2Xcelerate Conference (Boston, MA)
- NASCO creates digital health solutions for blue cross and blue shield health plans
- David has nearly 30 years’ experience in the technology innovation & business transformation sector
- In 2018, NASCO generated $318 million in total revenue
INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: David Weeks, Senior VP/CTO of NASCO
Ed Kim – Host, Traders Network Show: 00:00
Welcome back. We are pleased to have with us David Weeks senior vice president, chief technology officer NASCO. David, welcome. Thank you for joining us. David, you’re NASCO’s chief technology officer, which means you’re responsible for technology, innovation and digital transformation and ensuring that you successfully secure an architecture products for the future. This past spring you announced a groundbreaking consortium in healthcare. Please tell us about that.
David Weeks – SVP/CTO, NASCO: 00:28
So it’s called the coalesced health Alliance. We announced it in the spring but actually been working for about six months before that with some of our existing customers. NASCO provides digital healthcare solutions to some of the blue cross blue shield health insurance companies. And like a lot of companies, we were looking at what blockchain can do to both enable or disrupt existing business models. And we said, well one of the things that enables blockchain is the business structures or consortium’s that run that. And so we put together the governance framework for that consortium and kind of tested it out, tried to get some of the issues worked out. And then we announced the consortium in the spring time frame.
Ed Kim – Host, Traders Network Show: 01:09
Oh, even better. More companies ought to do that and make sure things work before they announce it. And how large is the consortium now?
David Weeks – SVP/CTO, NASCO: 01:16
Consortium is made up of in addition to NASCO, there are six other companies. There are four blue cross blue shield plans and to PBMs, the blue cross blue shield cancer, Massachusetts horizon, which is New Jersey, Michigan. And we’re looking to bring onboard Highmark from Pennsylvania and then express scripts and prime for them. A few ticks are also involved.
Ed Kim – Host, Traders Network Show: 1:40
And you’re focusing on the payment side?
David Weeks – SVP/CTO, NASCO: 1:46
Yeah, the payment side, use cases around a concept called distributed accumulators. But the way to think about it is your kind of, your experience as a patient or a person receiving healthcare services. So a lot of people experience when you go to fill a prescription and you have to pay at the pharmacist, there’s some confusion sometimes about what your copay is or how much you owe. And sometimes then they have to actually correct it.
David Weeks – SVP/CTO, NASCO: 02:04
And that’s because behind the scenes there are systems that are reconciling data between the pharmacy organizations and the health insurance companies. That’s to do with your health insurance benefits or where you are in your deductible and sometimes they get out of sync. So when you describe something like that, it seems to be a good use case for blockchain, which is about distribution of realtime data, trusting the information, getting consensus on what the right information is. So we picked that one because it was kind of in a sweet spot for the organizations we work with. And then in a, when we announced the consortium in March, April timeframe, it was cause we completed a successful alpha pilot around that. So we established the working blockchain solution. It wasn’t necessarily connected to any systems yet, but it proved out the blockchain technology.
Ed Kim – Host, Traders Network Show: 02:49
Perfect. Tell us more about that alpha pilot use case, please.
David Weeks – SVP/CTO, NASCO: 02:53
The, the use cases, the, the idea being that you’ll have a blockchain ledger that holds the balance of your accumulators in real time. So that if any party, and it could be a pharmacy company or could even be like a dental or vision provider who, who joins the consortium as part of it can basically re read that information real time. And that means they’re not relying on out of date data to process the information. And so the pilot was basically just to prove that out. Say, is blockchain a technology that could do this? Could it be built? Would it be able to scale? And so that’s what we proved out in the alpha pilot. And now we’re moving on to kind of the beta phase, which is more of a pre production phase of the project.
Ed Kim – Host, Traders Network Show: 03:33
Terrific. As you’ve been watching the development of blockchain from its infancy, where does it grow from here? What should we be watching for as consumers? As healthcare consumers?
David Weeks – SVP/CTO, NASCO: 03:42
Yeah, that’s interesting cause a lot of the blockchain solutions are probably be experienced by consumers through things like mobile applications on mobile solutions or website. So you may not even know that behind the scenes blockchain is actually doing some work to make it more efficient. Where you may see it as a consumer is around things like the tokenization of information or around payments. So people are generally familiar with Bitcoin around blockchain, so the payment technology and so you can actually use blockchain to create maybe some different payment methods. So as a consumer you may see that, but my view is a lot of it you won’t actually see. It’ll hopefully just result in a better experience for you in what our industry in healthcare, it means that you know, the information is more accurate. You can find information, say on a doctor on a provider directory more accurately, which is a frustration today for a lot of people. Now where do I find doctor information? That’s actually a use case of one of the other consortium’s is looking at provider directory information.
Ed Kim – Host, Traders Network Show: 04:26
Right. That’s wonderful. The I think one of the issues that consumers have had with blockchain is it’s an education issue. It sounds very difficult to grasp. And the only use case that has been of any practical import is around cryptocurrency. And ultimately cryptocurrency is a relatively narrow use case for blockchain, isn’t it?
David Weeks – SVP/CTO, NASCO: 05:19
Yeah. That’s right. I think if you can think about it, I like to think about it in two ways. Which is not an the implication and imp implementation of technology can either be to improve an existing business process. So like we’re doing with the accumulators. So there’s some financial reconciliation that needs to be done better or you’re creating a whole new business paradigm or business model. And so blockchain has the capability to do that, but so do other technologies enablers. But the way you approach that problem is very different from a technology implementation perspective. And I think that’s the value of the consortium’s is if you can get the organizations working together in industries to decide which ones to approach first as a group, then you’ll get much quicker implementation. Cause now you’ve got a business network set up and it’s not just a technology implementation.
Ed Kim – Host, Traders Network Show: 05:58
You’re not only making progress but you’re herding cats. You ought to be congratulated. David Weeks, senior vice president, CTO of NASCO. Thank you for your time. It’s been a pleasure.