The Future of Healthcare: “The number one issue that drives up prices in healthcare is the lack of transparency in the process” with Puneet Maheshwari, CEO of DocASAP
Lower the egregious spending in healthcare. The number one issue that drives up prices in healthcare is the lack of transparency in the process between payors, providers and consumers. The healthcare system needs to be clear about how prices are being charged for a particular service and/or procedure and let the supply and demand forces go to work in order for costs to level out.
I had the pleasure to interview Puneet Maheshwari. Puneet is the CEO and co-founder of DocASAP, a patient access and engagement platform for health systems, payors and physician groups. In this role, he is responsible for spearheading the company’s strategic direction and vision, managing industry partnerships and advancing its intelligent enterprise-grade technology. With a deep understanding of healthcare’s complex infrastructure and processes across payors and providers, Maheshwari founded DocASAP in 2012 on a mission to help healthcare organizations streamline patients’ access to care by navigating them to the right provider and care setting at the right time.
Thank you for joining us Puneet! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Prior to launching DocASAP, I was a management consultant at McKinsey & Company where I advised Fortune 500 companies in Silicon Valley. Previously, I served as the technical project lead in a Silicon startup, overseeing transpacific projects.
Regardless of what company I was at or position I was in, I have always been a consumer of healthcare and have experienced the friction that consumers face in the existing healthcare ecosystem. In problems lie opportunity. It was while I was at The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania that my vision for DocASAP came to life. The pain points associated with the U.S. healthcare system and the unnecessary roadblocks that obstruct a patient’s path to care became the clear problem statement for the endeavor. After further research and market analysis, I was convinced that there was an opportunity to influence and improve how patients access care, and I decided to launch DocASAP in 2012.
Can you tell our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the healthcare field?
In 2012, I founded DocASAP on a mission to streamline patients’ access to care through navigating them to the right provider and care setting at the right time. Backed and promoted in the market by Aetna, MultiPlan and UnitedHealthcare, DocASAP’s intelligent patient-provider matching enables patients to connect with optimal care providers to enhance access, increase care compliance and improve population risk management. I have more than 17 years of business and entrepreneurial experience with a deep understanding of healthcare’s complex and entangled infrastructure between payors, providers, insurance companies and government.
What makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Our platform aligns with health systems’ strategies to innovate around patient access and engagement, whether it is online, in the call center or physician-to-physician referral situations. We enable them to streamline access by navigating patients to the right provider and care setting at the right time, while providing real-time accurate online appointment scheduling. Our platform handles the complexities of provider intake protocols, ensuring accurate patient and provider matching. To support these access touchpoints, our provider data management solution ensures the integrity of scheduling information from enterprise applications. Overall, our technology is proven to reduce operational costs, improve health outcomes and enhance patient experience initiatives.
The true impact of our platform came full circle when I was contacted by the CIO of one of our first clients, a large health system, back in 2013 to congratulate us. While on the call, he mentioned the extreme disconnect between scheduling solutions and health systems and was thankful that DocASAP’s platform eliminated the inefficiencies and frustrations associated with accessing care. With intuitive technology and 24/7 access to accurate scheduling, the health system was able to provide the type of experience their patients expected.
Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to and/or see in the healthcare industry? How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo? Which “pain point” is this trying to address?
Creating frictionless access to care for patients is critical. It not only affects the patient experience — it impacts costs and health outcomes. However, frictionless access is easier said than done. Patient lead times to appointments are long, meaning patients don’t get the immediate care they need, and no-show rates are high. These factors create gaps in care and can drive up healthcare costs. Providers need to “meet” patients where they search for care as well as assist and guide patients along their journey. With intelligent provider-matching and scheduling tools such as DocASAP, providers and insurance companies alike can engage disengaged patients as well as positively move the needle on providing quality healthcare services.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
DocASAP continues to build the largest network of high-quality, connected providers to help navigate patients to the optimal care provider, at the right time, in the right setting. Currently, we are looking for new ways to better support our channel relationships with the largest payors in the industry. Today, most of the industry is working to improve inbound strategies; however, DocASAP is focusing on enhancing its existing engagement tools while developing innovative outbound engagement capabilities to meet the needs of our customers.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- Ideas are a dime a dozen, it’s all about the execution. So, plan your work and work your plan. Maintain a long-term vision but focus primarily on the next measurable milestone.
- It’s both a sprint and a marathon at the same time. Build the endurance and persistence necessary for the long haul while developing the intensity and nimbleness needed to move fast when the opportunity strikes. Most businesses are built incrementally and take more time, more effort and more capital than initially assumed. Know that and stay prepared.
- Building a business is an emotional roller coaster with extreme highs and extreme lows. The effort needed to successfully grow and scale a business is high and one must be constantly flexible with their time. The launch phase of DocASAP was a huge undertaking for my family and me. I had little to no sleep, was constantly on the road and when home, I was in the office. In fact, Friday nights in the office became ritual for my family as we would stay in the office, order takeout and my kids would watch movies while I was catching up on work from the week.
- Identify early on what you can control and what you cannot control. Building contingencies and not worrying about things that you don’t control allows you to focus on aspects that you do control.
- Business stops for no one and important opportunities should not be taken for granted — especially in the healthcare field. I had a business pitch with a large healthcare system partner in 2017 that was imperative to the company’s growth. On the day of the meeting, my connecting flight was delayed and eventually cancelled and I was forced to conduct the 50-person executive board meeting presentation over the phone in a busy airport. No matter what title you hold or how many years of experience you have, always be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get scrappy when needed, especially when you’re starting a business.
According to a study by Newsweek, the US healthcare system is ranked as the worst among high-income nations. This seems shocking. Can you share with us 3–5 reasons why you think the US is ranked so poorly?
- Healthcare as a business is growing and expanding in the U.S., but at the cost of the consumer. I truly believe the U.S. healthcare system faces a pricing problem and not a coverage problem. However, our policies all focus on coverage for patients rather than finding ways to drive down cost and/or offset pricing.
- Due to the high costs associated with healthcare, access to care is difficult for many. Additionally, healthcare costs are not transparent and the information gap between payors, providers and consumers further amplifies this failure with the system.
- The U.S. healthcare system highly incentivizes the payor, and sometimes the provider, but never the consumer. There needs to be a cap on the amount of incentives a payor/provider can receive and the focus needs to be redirected onto the patient.
You are a “healthcare insider.” If you had the power to make a change, can you share 5 changes that need to be made to improve the overall US healthcare system? Please share a story or example for each.
- Lower the egregious spending in healthcare. The number one issue that drives up prices in healthcare is the lack of transparency in the process between payors, providers and consumers. The healthcare system needs to be clear about how prices are being charged for a particular service and/or procedure and let the supply and demand forces go to work in order for costs to level out.
- Place limits on payor and provider incentives and re-evaluate subsidies given to these entities.
- Give the power back to the consumer so they can make informed decisions on the type of care they need and the cost they can afford. Healthcare is the only industry that asks consumers to purchase a service before knowing the associated cost — it’s phenomenally crazy if you think about it in that light.
- Deconsolidate the system. There are currently five large players in the healthcare ecosystem that set the prices and make the decisions for the masses. Opening the market up allows for true capitalism to take effect.
- Simplify access points to healthcare and streamline navigation procedures for patients. When done correctly, these revised processes can lower costs and enhance the quality of care for patients.
What specific steps would need to be taken to implement your ideas? What can individuals, corporations, communities, and leaders do to help?
- Provide more education to consumers on how the healthcare system works and how costs/pricing is allocated across the industry.
- Leverage existing technology to make healthcare costs and pricing more transparent as well as enable interoperability among providers, practitioners and payors.
- Democratize the data. Currently payors and providers receive unstructured information via outdated excel sheets that don’t talk to each other. By utilizing modern technology (i.e. machine learning), the public and private sectors can work together to compile and capture data, making it both actionable and transparent for the entire system.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better healthcare leader? Can you explain why you like them?
I enjoy books that provide perspectives on where we are headed as a people, culture and society. Additionally, I enjoy books on human psychology as well as books that shine light on the next frontier of innovation. Some of my favorite books include, “Homo Deus” by Yuval Noah Harari, “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande and “The Undoing Project” by Michael Lewis.
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