Ahmed ‘Eddie’ Qureshi – Building Digital Health 2.0 to Create Access to Healthcare for Underserved Communities – EP. 164

About This Episode:

Valorant Health was founded in 2018 after Founder and CEO, Ahmed Qureshi experienced the impact that lack of access had on communities from his early years in Pakistan.

Through extensive global travel, Ahmed realized that large portions of our population lack the access to healthcare that others of us expect.

He saw enormous inefficiencies in outdated systems that led to incredible waste (nearly $1 trillion in waste in the US alone!), often with the people who need the healthcare the most paying the highest price.

His is a fascinating take on a problem that affects us all, and I just love anyone audacious enough to take on something as massive as healthcare.

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2:30 – “I got to see it first-hand as well, where in Pakistan, a country that was still in its early stages at that time, facing a lot of issues around not just access to care generally, but also the differences in how women could access care versus men. So just a very fundamental shift in how health care affects everybody.”

6:21 – “In many European countries and I assume Canada as well…If you’re sick, you go to any doctor, you will be taking care of. You never, ever have to worry about whether it’s going to break the bank, whether you’re going to get $1 million or million euro bill in the mail. You don’t have this giant question mark about what is actually covered and what’s not covered. Will you get the care you need or will you not? It’s just a given. And that’s what I think of when I think of universal health care. So to me, I think that a citizen of a country, this is my personal opinion, a citizen of a country as powerful and great as the United States should never have to ask questions about whether or not they can get health care, what kind of care they should need, and nobody should ever be put in a position where they don’t get health care because they’re afraid that it will bankrupt them with a kind of debt that they can literally never get out of the rest of their life.”

8:16 – “The individual has the terrible burden of being fully reliant on a system at the worst possible time when they’re going through a health care crisis or somebody you love is going through a health care crisis and having the least amount of knowledge about what’s happening, the providers at least know what’s wrong with you and what you should do. They can throw all sorts of terms at you, but you’re not the expert there. And then you have the payers who know exactly what the money is, the codes, we talk about, all that stuff, and you as a patient are just in crisis looking from one to the other, right? So that’s kind of where that lack of transparency really stems from.”

12:31 – “For us, it’s about bringing everybody into the same place at the same time so that everybody has peace of mind because now the payers know who’s getting the care and what time frame. And with folks that are going to be paid at a reliable amount and patients know exactly where to go and they’re not going to have to pay something out of pocket. And that’s when you start actually building a framework for a more sustainable health-care economy.”

16:35 – “I’ll give you a real example. So early stages of the company, you as the founder and you’re serving as a CEO, you’re also the accounting department, you’re the billing department and the customer support. It’s all fantastic. I was in a call with a couple that was in their 70s, both of them very nice. They both had really, they’re called high acuities, so like critical need diagnoses at this health center, and they needed care in the community to actually deliver and get prescriptions. They’ve been at this point when I talked to them, been waiting for care for about 10- to 10-and-a-half months, respectively. We came in, we’ve got this, it’s like a PDF form that says basic demographic information, what they need to be seen for etcetera – the classic information, we all fill it out a million times, right? And it’s from their provider, so now we can provide coverage. Within 14 hours, they both had appointments and got seen. And later that day, they went to the Walgreens down the street and picked up their prescription. Now, how wild is that? We went from 10- to 10-and-a-half months to literally under 24 hours without – nothing had to really shift. It was a communication and continuum of care problem that you’re fundamentally solving – logistics through technology.”

21:53 – “Let me give you a couple of large numbers. One is a great article that’s posted by A16z Andreessen Horowitz there and they talk about how in the health care economy there’s about $765 billion – we use such large numbers – that is a huge amount of money that is right now essentially being wasted because of poor healthcare logistics management and administrative hurdles. Almost $1 trillion just being wasted in the health care piece.”

31:13 – (Ross) “I think there is some sort of moral responsibility to shield people from these numbers. I think, for example, let’s say you’re a public school teacher and you make not much more than $50,000 a year, or less, let’s say you work at a fast food and you make far less than that, minimum wage. I don’t think that somebody like that who has health care should ever see a bill or a document that has $100,000, $200,000, $500,000 $1 million on it. And then, in best case scenario, that number being crossed out and then amount you pay $15. I think it’s irresponsible to show somebody those kinds of numbers. And if you look at how subsidies work in other industries, it’s like if you buy a steak – and I’m not a meat eater, I’m a vegetarian – but if you buy a steak, there’s enormous subsidies that go into the purchase price of a steak in the grocery store. If you buy a steak, it doesn’t say $5,000 and then crossed out, you’re paying $2.99 a pound. It says $2.99 a pound, something you can afford. I don’t care if the person who invents a lifesaving drug gets billions of dollars because that’s capitalism and they did something great. Just have the government pay that. Don’t show me that number. Don’t tell me that this pill cost $7,000. Tell me that it costs $5 and you figure out the back end because otherwise you’re always going to have that panic moment every time you see a bill like that, you say, ‘Okay, this one was covered. But if ever one of these is not covered, I’m ruined for life.’ I mean, that’s just awful. That is the opposite of peace of mind, right?”

37:10 – (Ross) “So is that basically what you’re trying to do, as we sort of wrap things up here, is your model, ‘If I save you X amount, I collect a piece of that?’ What is your business model building all of this?”
(Ahmed) “Yeah. So we’re trying to put ourselves in the ecosystem where we go just to the folks for the services that we provide. So exactly, yes, we share in the value that we’re providing, the transparency we’re providing, the increased opportunities that we’re providing. Only then do we get to have our money back, in a sense. And what we think about it in, I think in a more approachable way, is it’s called a life covered model. We basically become in charge of being the care navigators for these lives. And that’s something we believe in very strongly to really push that piece forward where now folks that are under our care, it’s our responsibility, whether they need care every single day, we want to get them that care. Maybe they just check in once a year. That’s also fine, right? Whatever people need, that’s where we get to be there for, their navigators, their guides in this really complex system.”

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