Interview with Hank Selke & Edwin Lubanga, Snark Health

Reading Time: 6 minutes
Edwin Lubanga – Chief Technology Officer

Snark Health is a platform that connects patients, doctors, insurers, and donors to health care services, private data sharing, and payments. Their aim is to help patients get the right care, at the right place, at the right time. Through virtual healthcare services and high quality preferred clinics and hospitals, they are able to improve access and quality of care, lower costs, and improve the patient, doctor and nurse experience.

What is Snark Health’s background and competitive advantage compared to traditional health care?

Snark Health is a platform that connects patients, doctors, payers (i.e. insurers) and donors for health care services, private data sharing, and payments via blockchain technology. Built around the doctor-patient relationship, we help patients to get the right care, at the right place, at the right time. Through virtual healthcare services and high quality preferred clinics and hospitals, we are able to improve the quality of care, lower costs, and improve the patient, doctor, and nurse experience. Our Hippocratic Coin alternative payment model helps members to earn money through our shared savings model, dividends, and monetizing their data (if they opt-in).

Hank Selke, Physician

What is the process after a consumer purchases your services?

In the traditional fee-for-service model, the payer (governmental, commercial, etc.) is the primary purchaser of healthcare goods and services. This model has led to unsustainable spending and variable quality and experience. In our model, the doctor and patient are the primary purchaser of healthcare goods and services through their Virtual Health Community in collaboration with the payer. Members have two choices to purchase services. If the member (i.e. patient) chooses the traditional fee for service model, the money they pay for services is held in escrow until the transaction is completed and then payment is released to the other party (i.e. doctor). If the member utilizes our platform as part of a Virtual Health Community, the purchasing of health care services occurs through a different process independent of the consultation with their doctor. The payer (i.e. governmental, commercial, etc.) pays the Virtual Health Community a monthly fee for each member (i.e. per member per month) to provide services for acute and chronic medical questions and conditions.

Who are Snark Health targeting as customers in the first instance?

Our primary customers are patients, doctors, and payers. Through virtual healthcare services and high quality preferred clinics and hospitals, we help patients to partner with their doctor to get the right care, at the right place, at the right time.

What platform does Snark Health use? How does this compare to some of the other blockchain platforms?

Our blockchain is built on the Stellar network. We chose Stellar because of faster transaction time (confirmation time: 3-5 seconds), decentralized and open database, enables thousands of transactions per second, uses the Stellar Consensus Protocol, and enables Multi-signatures plus Smart Contracts.

We are interested in partnering with organizations who share our vision for creating a better system for the financing and delivery of health care that is built around the doctor-patient relationship and improves quality, access, cost, and experience.

What is your community like? Are any parts of the community involved in the development?

We have been serving the people and communities of Western Kenya since 1998. Our initial focus was around AIDS education in the late 1990s. Due to the needs of the community, we expanded and built a school and clinic, as well as a small business program for women. Over a thousand volunteers from 24 different countries have traveled to Kenya to participate in our programs.

The internet helped us achieve our early goals in the ’90s. We see blockchain technology as a way to expand our impact and serve more people globally. Virtual Health Communities are a vital component of our services. Our platform allows people to create a Snark Health Virtual Community (VHC) at https://vhc.snarkhealth.com

By using the voices of patients, doctors, and nurses to influence strategies and policies to refocus the delivery and financing of healthcare around the patient-doctor relationship, we are rolling out an Ambassador Program and Think Tank. We have created a developer program to help developers get involved in shaping the future of health through building solutions that have a positive impact on patients, doctors, and nurses.

We are interested in partnering with organizations who share our vision for creating a better system for the financing and delivery of health care that is built around the doctor-patient relationship and improves quality, access, cost, and experience.

How is the quality assurance of your services controlled?

Quality assurance is controlled at the level of the individual Virtual Health Communities and the doctor-patient relationship. Through our shared savings model, quality outcomes are required to earn money. Through our reputation management system, members of our platform hold each other accountable for quality outcomes.

What is virtual healthcare services management and what are its benefits?

Virtual healthcare is a broad term that refers to all the ways clinicians and patients can interact using technology (video, messaging, audio, apps, sensors, etc.) to deliver health services independent of time or location. Common applications of virtual health include synchronous care to improve patients’ ease of access, physician-to-physician communication to improve patient care, chronic disease management, remote patient monitoring, care coordination, medication adherence programs, and virtual health communities to promote patient empowerment and self-management, leverage data to improve quality and cost outcomes, and provide health education and social support.

Benefits for patients:

  • Improved access to care, quality, and patient experience
  • Convenience: right care, right time, right place
  • Create health and earn money
  • Monetize their data
  • Earning dividends

Benefits for doctors and healthcare workers:

  • Leading the redesign of care delivery
  • Serve more patients
  • Improved clinician experience
  • Automation of billing and collections
  • Earn more money per unit of time
  • Monetize their data
  • Earning dividends
  • Reduce burnout and suicide

Benefits for payers:

  • Reduce payer expenditures
  • No upfront costs
  • Create alignment with patients and doctors
  • Automation of payments

Who do you see as your strongest competitor? What is your strategy to keep your competitive advantage?

In broad terms, our competitors are organizations that extract value from the system rather than add value. Potential competitors include Curisium, Patientory, Pokitdok, Hashed Health, Olio.

To our knowledge, though, there are no companies developing an alternative payment model that is built around the doctor-patient relationship, engages patients as key stakeholders for driving clinical and financial performance, and enables the private exchange of information and value via smart contracts and cryptocurrency.

Our strategy to maintain our competitive advantage is to focus everything we do around the doctor-patient relationship. The Snark Health platform is built by patients and doctors, and is for patients and doctors. We are focused on privacy. Individual members own their data on our platform and control who has access to their data. Members earn dividends because of the value they add to our platform.

Which countries are at the forefront of virtual healthcare services at the moment? Where do you see the most growth happening in the future?

This is a good question with an incomplete “up to date” data set to provide a precise answer. Per a recent Deloitte paper, regions including the Americas, Europe, and Africa are implementing telehealth backed by technologies like AI and analytics. The Middle East and parts of Asia are implementing tele-consulting to improve health care accessibility. Despite these limitations in data, what we do know is global health care expenditures continue to increase at an unsustainable level. We know new care delivery and business models are necessary to improve quality, lower cost, and improve the patient, doctor, and nurse experience. We know internet access and connectivity has increased by 1,066 percent since 2000. We know that, per WHO, 20-40% of global healthcare spending is wasted.

We anticipate the most rapid growth of virtual care services in regions that promote a culture of collaboration between patients, doctors, and payers. The most effective way to transition from a fee for service model with unsustainable spending and variable quality to value-based care is by helping patients and their doctors to be the primary purchaser of healthcare goods and services through their Virtual Health Communities in collaboration with the payer.

The global response to the COVID-19 pandemic is at a critical point and requires unprecedented coordination. We are building a framework for data-driven discussions and shared learnings to help people have a greater impact at their respective local, state, and national level in collaboration with their organizations and governmental agencies.

How does the current Coronavirus pandemic affect your business?

The global response to the COVID-19 pandemic is at a critical point and requires unprecedented coordination. We are building a framework for data-driven discussions and shared learnings to help people have a greater impact at their respective local, state, and national level in collaboration with their organizations and governmental agencies. Our efforts are aimed at enabling more rapid dissemination of information to improve patient outcomes. Our goal is to facilitate the exchange of knowledge, best practices, and lessons learned to support the people and organizations that are tasked with problem-solving at the local level across the globe. There remain many unanswered questions in regard to the clinical, operational, and financial aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the process of answering these critical questions, we are building a new framework while simultaneously laying the foundation for global triage support, improved access to health care services, and clinical research.

The time to act is now, to facilitate the rapid dissemination of information in order to improve patient outcomes. If you’re interested in helping us grow and respond to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic, please reach out to hello@snarkhealth.com and visit https://covid.snarkhealth.com. Thanks!  


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