The integration of medical records is a likely usecase for Satoshi Nakamoto's blockchain technology and the fact that the Cryptosis team see's hundreds of blockchain projects a month leaves us very neutralized to concepts that many others would find fascinating.
Once in a while, we come across a few unique projects that earn a second look. Healthcare is a space to watch for the utilization of blockchain, but as you know, not all systems deserve or should be on the protocol. A lot of the ICOs that come up these days are on the Ethereum network, today we want to share with you a project using NEO.
After some back and forth emails, we were able to grab Dr. Gordan Jones away from his busy schedule and have him talk about his new project, Universal Health Coin. It's a new take on how to level out the playing field for medical access and uses what he calls a "health cost sharing model".
Without further ado, we'd like to give the floor to Dr. Jones as he answers our top questions concerning his new project.
These are not easy questions either...
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1. Tell us about your background, how you came up with the idea for UHC, and how you met your cofounder, basically, what’s the TL:DR of UHC’s inception?
Hello, my name is Gordon Jones. You will learn later of my background that purports an expertise in this subject, but it’s much more than just my professional life that has led me to join forces with Courtney Jones (no family relations, just good friends) and create the Universal Health Coin. My personal life, and even deeper, my immediate family life includes many experiences with our health system as a patient and caregiver, it’s complexities and the difficulties in accessing the best care.
If my wife and I were not health care professionals, I do not know how a family of five adopted children with special medical needs would ever be able to figure out how to find the best doctors in the world for their needs, nor how to best manage the financing and payment for those high dollar health services. Only because of our internal fortitude in not settling on local care just because it was more convenient, but finding the best care available even when we had to fly across the country dozens of times, flop in the local Ronald McDonald Houses (three different locations several times each), and skip work weeks-at-a-time, did we get the care our children needed to ultimately become healthy, self-reliant and responsible young people.
Because both my wife and I own our own businesses, we did not have the huge backstop of a Cadillac health plan to lean on to cover the cost of the medical care. We had to be very creative in our financing. Since we were mostly cash-pay and that I have a great deal of experience in negotiating health services contracts, were we able to get some great deals on the cost of the care. But even then, we had to make several payments with credit cards which only exacerbated the situation due to the high interest rates. Together, these problems of our health system would put massive amounts of pressure and stress on us. Thank God, we all made it through as a family!
So, when I first met Courtney, who is an expert in how to use the new technology of blockchain and cryptocurrency, where he asked me “how could we use blockchain to fix the problems in healthcare?” I knew how immediately.
Courtney taught me about the advanced security and functionality of blockchain to produce automation around contracting and financial transactions, and he helped me understand how cryptocurrency is rapidly creating a new market of finance with stores of great value. I realized that if we combined these capabilities and created a cash-based health system leveraging this new technology, we could get rid of all the middlemen, third parties, and “sponsors-of-care” who siphon dollars away for administration and bureaucracy that could otherwise go to pay for care, while also lowering the cost of providing that care.
UNIVERSAL HEALTH COIN OVERVIEW
Hard Cap: $3.5 Million USD
Payment Methods: NEO, ETH, BTC, DASH, LTC
Total Cap Size: 200 Million
Technology: Healthcare Finance, NEO NEP5 Token
Pre-ICO Date: December 2017
Public Sale Date: March 2018
2. What’s the ultimate problem your token is solving?
Reinventing healthcare finance and payment eliminating the need for health insurance and government. Yes, we have most of the current blockchain initiatives in healthcare listed in our white paper. They are not actually competitors, but instead UHC is the glue that makes them actually work. We will be the financier and payor of health services. These companies are all just converting legacy processes into blockchain, but still maintaining the status quo and not changing the health system itself. That is only going to happen by decentralizing the payment of healthcare!
3. Why are you/your team suited to this project?
We are experts in healthcare finance, design, technology and systems, plus blockchain and cryptocurrency solution design. The team profiles on the website are linked to each experts LinkedIn page. That being said, both Courtney and I have been entrepreneurs all of our professional lives. I have spent the past 25 years helping large healthcare corporations build new product lines outside of their core, or starting up my own companies to meet a specific need. I have been working on the health services side of the business or the financial side of the business all within healthcare tech.
Courtney is a pioneer in paid search. He co-founded FindWhat.com and invented paid search before Google launched their free search. Courtney and team grew the company strong even going public in order to weather through the dot.bomb era. The AI they created to support their paid search model is being leveraged inside Universal Health Coin, as well as the analytics capabilities of two of our advisors, Dr. Richard Smith’s crypto analytics engine, and Richard Kersh’s human factor analytics. We also have experts in medical interoperability, health system design, wearables and IoT, and patient engagement.
4. What are the main challenges you will have to overcome?
The biggest one is choosing the right platform to build our solution on top of. For now, we have chosen Neo because they are strong in Asia and growing worldwide with a great emphasis on coming into the Western world and promoting their new partners here. Also, in our analysis, ETH can only push through 15 transactions per second which we knew would get cramped when we threw the heavily transactional nature of healthcare. Heck, what I call the new Pet Rock of Christmas 2017 – Crypto Kitties – bogged down ETH way too much for us to take a risk on it. That being said, we have not totally closed that door as I am sure they are working on that limitation. Neo, on the other hand, can push through 10,000 per second which should certainly be able to handle our ramp up to one million members over the next three years. We are also still looking at the big boy blockchain platforms coming from HyperLedger/IBM, Microsoft, Samsung, etc.
5. How do you plan to overcome the conservative nature of healthcare in the US? It seems anything which challenges the current infrastructure, particularly the middle men you’re trying to disrupt, gets shut down pretty rapidly.
To the provider and the consumer, UHC looks just like a cash-pay system. No user has to know anything about blockchain or cryptocurrency to use the system. So no barriers there. The barrier is the one everyone in healthcare is working to solve and that is turning providers into health and wellness providers from the fix-it the medical condition mindset. We also have to get the patient truly engaged in their own health status and lifestyle.
We believe our design of the UHC system will accomplish these goals and only a finance system on blockchain can do that. Obviously, we are currently targeting the individual market right now. As the system is proven and the self-insured market begins to look as UHC as a viable and lower cost option than hiring Cigna, United, or any of the BCBS plans to be their administrative services organizations (ASO), we expect we’ll have to work with their consultants. It’s very interesting to me that the Human Resource departments of these large employers depend so heavily on their brokers, even when the broker's commissions are coming in through the ASO they are pitching.
But, of course, I see there a big difference between a health design consultant working with the employers to provide the best solution for the company and the employees, and a broker just pitching plan offerings from their favorite commission paying payors.
The health service provider community will eventually love us once they understand fully that we are not the dictators they are used to in payors. We will demand fair and transparent pricing in our smart contracts, and we will be pushing the envelope illuminating competitiveness, quality of care scores, outcomes measures, etc., but it will all result in lowering their internal administrative costs and heightening their ability to service our members/their patients!
6. Similarly, how do you plan to encourage or even incentivize health care providers to accept UHC?
Think back to the early days of managed care. Doctors had no desire to accept managed care contracts because these plans were stifling and controlling (which is the point of being managed - right?). Meanwhile, the consumer, especially the healthy ones that never went to a doctor but who wanted to lower the cost of insurance, joined in droves. They saw that their provider was not on the panel and the managed care companies leveraged that. They helped the member communicate with their doctor that if they weren’t on the plan’s panel, the member was going to have to go to another doctor. After about 10% of the doctors’ patients bailing on them, they would concede to sign the contract.
NOW, WE ARE NOT MANAGED CARE. We are a cash-based system that does not require the doctor to ask for pre-authorization, submit a claim, wait 60 days for payment, make available charts for audit reviews, etc. etc. All they have to do is accept our fair cash based priced smart contract and off they go seeing as many of our members as they want! With the trends of doctors leaving insured patients and going into direct care and private pay only, the mindset is there. It just needs a mechanism to easily enable it to go worldwide – and that is UHC.
7. What constraints do you see in your blockchain/token?
Since we are a utility token for health services commerce, and not a cryptocurrency that holds no intrinsic asset behind it like Bitcoin, we should have little problem with governments who are looking for securities they need to control to protect consumers. The UHC system is cash-in and cash-out based on the local fiat of that provider of service, whether it be Peru, China, UAE, or the US.
8. How does AI work within your system?
AI and machine learning, as well as Autobot technology, are all embedded in both the service side and the financial side of our system – that is our secret sauce! I mentioned a bit of it earlier in our discussion on our capabilities to make this come to reality.
9. What year do you expect your coin to make large strides?
Its not about the coin or token, the value is all driven by the demand for our smart contracts and the access to a cash-based health system. All indications from our customer discovery process are that we will be overwhelmed as soon as we start our program marketing.
10. How would your token balance inflation around so many countries?
Very good question, so let’s take an example of an international market already interested in utilizing UHC. The Caribbean has its various currencies across the multitude of mother countries, but amongst themselves, they have created a model of health services provided to those who must come from one island to the next for specific services paid for by the negotiated contract. They can use the UHC to stabilize the flow and conversions of fiat for health services much easier than the banking and expensive payments systems.
Additionally, if someone in the Caribbean decides to purchase UHC in order to buy a health service in Mexico, they will purchase enough UHC to pay the health service provider in Mexico based on their smart contract rate. Every health service provider agrees to their contract rate in their local fiat. Payment is made in their local fiat at the time of the service no matter how many UHC it takes to cover that cost. If the person is using UHC outside of the health cost sharing model, then they will see the current amount of UHC needed to pay for that health service.
If someone in the Caribbean wants to join the health cost sharing model, then their monthly contribution rate is calculated based upon the local cost of care in the Caribbean, but if they want to come to the states for care and the cost of a specific service here is higher than the average price in the Caribbean, there may be a premium placed on top of the portion the health cost sharing program pays for and thus they pay the difference. However, if UHC calculates that the specific case will result in lower cost of care in the long run when the person travels to the US for the service, then it may be covered in full.
11. How do you see demand rising for your token in the next 3 years?
Right now, our stated goal is one million members in the health cost sharing program, but we expect many 100s of thousands more just buying UHC so they can access our smart contracts.
12. How would you respond to this criticism from a reddit user?
"I don't see much difference between this and making a personal rainy day fund. In an emergency, people won't get extra care subsidized by other's contributions. They'll all be contributing to their own health. Not trying to put down the idea. Just trying to see what it is I'm missing."
This person doesn’t understand the health cost sharing model. Members are contributing a set monthly promise to pay each other’s (qualified) health costs. If there are not enough funds from all members to cover the cost of all members’ health that month, the leftover is forwarded to the next month for payment just like every individual does when paying off a bill of any kind. Any funds remaining in the network when the total contribution by members is more than the cost for that month, it remains in each member’s wallet as a health savings account. You could call this the “raining day fund” if you like.
The other aspect of the system that the individual doesn’t understand is that no one is required to participate in the health cost sharing program. Let’s say we have the number one knee replacement surgeon in the world accepting the UHC smart contract price for knee replacement. You are not a health cost sharing program member, but you have been told by your personal doctor that you need a knee replacement. Your local ortho doctor is going to charge you and/or your employer $25,000, but our world renown surgeon is only charging $20,000. Yes, you’ll have to pay for travel to see him/her and that may bump the price back up to $25k, but you have access to the best in the world where he/she would normally be charging your insurance plan $50,000 for that same knee replacement. This is the power of cash based pricing and immediate payment!
Additionally, we are an open platform for health cost sharing meaning we expect that some percentage of the 104 health cost sharing ministries representing over 1.5 million members will use our platform under their current brand. Right now, these plans use traditional PPO networks for their pricing models. PPOs are closed, confining, not transparent and abusive to payers and providers alike. We want to get these Christian health cost sharing ministries off those PPOs and onto a transparent and fair payment system for both the members' and the doctors' sake.
"Because it’s decentralised and the token is only going to be used for speculation, it’s going nowhere, if it was a private blockchain and centralised to their headquarters then yes, it could be big."
We are a utility token that will be decentralized at the core of the system. There will be some aspects that require Apps to manage information outside of decentralization, but his/her point was more on the security question of any cryptocurrency – we are NOT a cryptocurrency for cryptocurrency sake like Bitcoin, etc. We can be decentralized while still providing a utility service!
Of course, there will be supply and demand of the token that will lend to ascension and variability in the price of the token, but if you look at our advisory you will see our experts on how to manage variable quotients in cryptocurrency. As a matter of fact, this technology is new, patent pending, and operable!
13. Can you give us an overview of the upcoming presale and token sale? For example, Is there a whitelist and is it open yet?
We are still in the very early stages of all this. As you can see from our timeline in the whitepaper, we are working towards the Original Token Sale.
Right now, we are inviting our prospective health service providers and UHC members to pre-purchase UHC as a great discount. We want our customers to receive the benefit of early adoption over focusing just on the blockchain and investor community. We are providing a service and we want the beneficiaries of that service to help fund our creation and benefit from the discounts. But yes, a whitelist will be available in January in a more traditional pre-sale – if you can call anything we are doing in blockchain “traditional.”
Just about everything is on the website including your opportunity to participate in supporting our mission by pre-purchasing some UHC at an 80% (or less depending on the tranche you pre-purchase in). Basically, at $10,000 today within the first million, you'll be provided $50,000 worth of UHC at the launch of the Original Token Sale.
At a monthly rate of $250 to participate in the health sharing program, at $50,000 worth of UHC you'd have 16 years of the program pre-paid!
14. Is there anything else you’d love to address or cover in this interview?
I just want to stress, this is a solution to a problem in healthcare that only blockchain and our utility token can solve. This is not a cryptocurrency play for crypto sake! The only way to solve the huge problems in healthcare today are to wrestle the control away from the insurance companies and the government. They are so massive, so slow, and so full of waste, fraud, and misaligned incentives that they will never be able to resolve our problems.
The Cryptosis team would like to thank Dr. Gordan Jones for sharing his view and asking a few of our hard hitting questions. Universal Health Coin is a project we'll be watching closely and after seeing Jones' responses to inflation, criticisms and his personal ethos - we'll try and keep you updated on upcoming news.
The questions we raised towards this project are the exact types of angles you should be approaching when assessing if a project is right for you. Cryptocurrencies is a terrible word for explaining what the future of blockchain holds, as with any investment - play the long game and if you believe in the project, HODL'ing will be much easier.