This interview is part of our new Blockchain In Healthcare series, where we interview the world's leading thought leaders on the front lines of the intersections between blockchain and healthcare.
In this interview we speak with Michael Dershem, Founder and CEO of MAPay, to understand how his company is using blockchain to transform the healthcare business, and what the future of the industry holds.
1. What’s the story behind MAPay? Why and how did you begin?
MD: Let me see where to begin. Wouldn’t it be nice to be sitting at your kitchen counter on a Sunday night and be able to pay all of your healthcare bills in one click, and have a payment network figure out where the payments should go? After spending about a dozen years or so building some of the first payment portals for healthcare, the co-founder of MAPay and I set out to do that impossible task. And we did just that. We figured out how a patient could pay multiple providers who had no affiliation with one another other than having you as a patient. This happened in 2015 as a joint initiative of our two companies, which together have more than 50 years of experience. We did our first commercial transactions in September 2017 under MAPay and haven’t looked back. We are now using what we call a hybrid architecture: bringing and testing blockchain and AI, in a prudent and pragmatic approach.
2. Please describe your use case and how MAPay uses blockchain:
MD: MAPay’s distributed signed stored value ledger ensures 100 percent reconciliation and auditability of the record. The ledger features write-once read-only cryptographically signed entries that together form a chain. Adulteration of the record is impossible.
What the heck does all that mean?
Imagine all the candy that is available in a candy store. We don’t give you the keys to the store but rather, access to certain counters in the store that is your candy. That is is how unexplained introduction or loss of value is similarly impossible. Distributed replication of entry records over a wide geographic area makes destruction of the record virtually impossible. This means nobody can get your candy because they don't have the right keys. Furthermore, you can give someone your candy under certain instances that you dictate. This provides transparency, efficiencies and integrity, while lessening the friction and absurd costs associated with paying for, say, an earache.
This dysfunctional movement of utility—that is, money—to satisfy a patient encounter leads to exorbitant costs . Our use cases are enterprise B2B when entities such as companies, hospitals, insurers, and governments need to move money, as well as consumer/patient-centric B2B2C, when patients need to make payments to all of their providers at once.
3. Could you share a specific customer/user that benefits from what you offer? What has your service done for them?
MD: We don’t usually speak publicly about specific customer engagements. There is one use case, however, that sticks in my mind: Michael Young, the CEO of Temple University Healthcare Systems, who has a long business relationship with our head of business development, told us, “An opportunity exists to eliminate a major portion of the claim processing and transaction costs associated with our own employees receiving care at our owned system network providers. Working with MAPay, we are hoping to create a reduction in the historical expense of operating the plan by at least 20 percent while providing real-time transaction visibility.” What makes me proud is that the impact we can have in an urban teaching hospital system in such a highly competitive market as Philadelphia.
4. What other blockchain healthcare use cases are you excited about?
MD: The fundamental nature of blockchain is that it’s a verifiable ledger that provides an immutable historical record. The use case for patient medical records in such areas as population health management, dynamic diagnosing, clinical trials and disease management protocols are apparent. Additionally, smart contracts could be created around the encounter payment transaction, which would collapse the costs and eliminate the ambiguity and efficiency relating to healthcare transactions. I also believe the opportunity for shared blockchain as it relates to research will provide a way to slash any costs associated with future drug research from an administrative basis. This could be game-changing for both peer collaboration and expedited time to market.
5. Where will MAPay be in five years?
MD: We will have succeeded at becoming the global standard for the $10 trillion healthcare transactions industry. Multiple entrants to the healthcare market, including banks, credit card companies, and other financial institutions will have tried to enter the healthcare payment market. Their lack of neutrality and market know-how will lead to their failure. Our customer-facing MEDspedia product, thanks to its user-forward transaction data and one-click access across customers’ spending accounts, and tools to help cut their healthcare costs, will make us the most trusted player in the healthcare data market. Remember when you bought that first CD on Amazon or asked a friend to spell Google again in order to do a search? You will remember that first time on MAPay and you did not have to tell the site you were not a robot, or how many road signs are in the panels or enter these squiggly figues. The initial trust we build for and with the patients will change lives.