What does digital health have in common with Spotify? More than you might think. This is episode four in our podcast series hosted by the 2023 Awards Advisory Board. In this episode, TimelyMD SVP of Product Zachary Fleming speaks with Transcarent Head of Product Vikas Sabnani. They discuss the evolution of the music industry and how that relates to digital health. Then Vikas shares his four markers of what makes a great product. Overall, the theme is about creating integrated digital health experiences for all users.

Subscribe to the Product Talk podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts and catch every conversation with leading product executives. New episodes go live every week. Episodes in the Product Industries to Watch Series drop on Wednesdays.



On creating totally integrated digital health experiences

“The healthcare experience today in this country can be notoriously fragmented and disconnected. But health truly happens at the whole person level. Not one visit, one encounter at a time. Our vision is to bring it all together into one single totally integrated experience.

“On the employer side, the vision is that it’s the one solution they need. Today, an average employer offers anywhere from 15 to 20 different point solutions on top of the health plan. That could be a telemedicine offering, a pharmacy fulfillment solution, a meditation app, a chronic disease management solution, and so on. And when you do that, these benefits teams are now managing multiple contracts with different partners, multiple vendors to manage. Each vendor will have their own communication programs and strategy with their employees. And that just creates a lot of noise. 

“On the pricing side, these employees have to deal with multiple PPMs. And then different pricing models and ROI models to measure ROI of the investment. The way we’re doing all this is all of the services are offered under a value-based management. So even something as transactional as telehealth, for example, we try to create the pricing model on that on a value-based arrangement. And so our interests are truly aligned between the provider, the patients, the members, Transcarent, and the employer. That allows us the ability to go at risk with the employer.”

On what health insurance has in common with the music industry

“The analogy I like to think about here is really how the music industry played out and the parallels of that in the healthcare industry. Music 1.0 was like a music CD. You had to buy a bundle of songs on a CD. You as a consumer had no control over what goes on that CD. Whether you want to listen to one song or two songs, you still buy the entire CD for 15, 20 bucks. Someone else decided what goes on that CD. 

“This is kind of how your insurance plan works. Someone makes the decision and you’re stuck with what’s in there. Music CDs then got unbundled into individual songs and mp3s. In the early 2000s, we all were excited with Napster. Then iTunes came along, and then you could collect songs, one by one. And you paid 97 cents per song. Now you could create your own assortment. And that’s kind of similar to how the digital health point solutions are out there. Employers are assembling their own assortment of different point solutions to create something for the employees. 

Too much fragmentation

“The issue there is now you have too much fragmentation. You’re managing all your songs across different devices, keeping them in sync, and all that stuff. So, finally, Spotify came along, and it basically reorganized the entire concept around playlists. Now as a consumer, you have access to all the songs in the catalog. The supply of music has become infinite. And now it’s truly personalized to the consumer. 

“That’s really the way I think about Transcarent. This is an urgent problem now, because people are dealing with so many different fragmented solutions. We are bringing all of these different services into one integrated experience. It’s designed for the consumer, and you have access to it. We remove all the barriers to access the services. Ultimately, it’s personalized to the consumer’s needs.”

On the 4 things that make a great digital health product

“First and foremost, we’d all agree that the product has to create meaningful value for the members. It needs to solve a real need. It needs to solve it in a desirable or a delightful way. The member experience is always key. 

“The second thing is it needs to create business value. Now, assuming this is a commercial product, ultimately, a great product is one that can solve these problems and in a profitable way. 

“Third, it needs to be able to do it at scale. It’s easy to make a small product that can solve the needs of a few people in a profitable way. But can you do that at scale? Can you actually do it across hundreds, or thousands, or millions, or billions of people? 

“Lastly, especially in the healthcare setting, it’s important that the product is creating positive community and societal value. There are many products in the short term that can check off the first three boxes, right? It can be meaningful for the users. It can be profitable. But is it really progressing the community in a fair and equitable way? And I would say that’s especially important for healthcare.”

About the speaker
Vikas Sabnani Transcarent, Head of Product Member
About the host
zachary fleming TimelyMD, SVP of Product

Zac is a growth driver with a passion to create innovation within healthcare. With over a decade on the leading edge of digital health, he brings his experience across start-ups to Fortune 30 corporations to help companies transform to make healthcare the way we all wish it would be. He casts bold visions that are grounded in proven strategies to help product-led companies exceed their growth, EBITDA and experience goals.

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