Interview with Dr. Jawad Arshad
On this week's episode of the PNC podcast, John interviews Dr. Jawad Arshad, an emergency physician looking to bring much-needed transparency to the healthcare marketplace. He and his partners also intend to disrupt the health insurance industry by removing insurers from the physician-patient interaction.
Dr. Arshad is an emergency medicine physician. He completed his medical training at SUNY Upstate Medical Center and his emergency medicine residency at Henry Ford Hospital.
He worked as an EM physician, and became involved in the administrative side of medicine early in his career. First, he served as the director of the Emergency Department at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital.
Next, he left corporate employment and worked as an independent contractor at the Beaumont Dearborn Emergency Department, and started an urgent care clinic. As a business owner, he interacted directly with payers, and experienced the frustration associated with billing and collections.
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Entrepreneur Version 1.0
Jawad's exposure to the world of business came through a combination of administrative work and an investment in property with a friend. The investment brought him face to face with the world of contracts and business operations and spurred him to set up his own urgent care clinic.
“If you are looking for compensation at first, you will miss out on opportunities.”Dr. Jawad Arshad
Jawad noted the importance of seizing opportunities when they present themselves, even if they do not offer significant compensation at first. “If you are looking for compensation at first, you will miss out on opportunities.”
Jawad learned about healthcare tech startups by investing in a telemedicine company. While the experience was hugely valuable to Jawad, ultimately it did not work out. But the experience taught Jawad some valuable lessons in entrepreneurship:
- Know your limitations – don't try to do everything yourself.
- Make sure everyone has skin in the game. People without their own money on the line are less motivated to see something succeed.
Those experiences inspired him to start WoW Health Solutions about three years ago. With his team, he developed and deployed all of the necessary back office systems for the company. Together, they are now rolling out their services to patients, physicians and employers as they begin to enter the healthcare marketplace.
During our interview, Jawad explains how WoW Health Solutions is bringing transparency to health care costs, while eliminating third party insurance companies from most of the physician-patient encounters.
Entrepreneur Version 2.0
One of the problems that sank the telemedicine offering was the payer system. It was so unwieldly, that patients sometimes opted out to pay directly rather than going through insurance and billing companies.
This problem sparked an idea for Jawad. He envisioned an alternative solution to the payer system, along the lines of Uber and Airbnb. He developed a vison, whereby patients could pay providers directly and providers could save on ancillary costs and time. This idea would eventually become WoW Health.
The goal that drives WoW Health is bringing transparency to the healthcare payment industry. They want to do this by finding a way to connect patients directly with providers, cutting out the costs of the numerous middlemen involved in the current system.
Right now Jawad estimates that 25-30% of effort by physicians is eaten up by ancillary fees, not to mention the time it takes to process payments. WoW Health aims to reduce that level of wastage while vastly reducing the number of hours spent processing payments.
Ready to Enter the Healthcare Marketplace
It has taken three years and a lot of work to bring WoW Health to the precipice of launch. It was not just a question of how to pay the doctor, but how do you find a doctor to pay? What interface do providers use? How do you remain HIPAA compliant? And most importantly, how do you bring patients into the platform?
The WoW Health team faced a chicken-egg situation of whether to bring in providers or patients first. Then they realized that most people get their healthcare from their employer. “Starbucks spends more money on healthcare than they do on coffee.”
It was an easy sell to employers. By their current estimates, Jawad believes that employers will save between 20-40% on healthcare costs. On top of that, employees will not have to pay any premiums and will incur less overall out of pocket costs.
“Starbucks spends more money on healthcare than they do on coffee.”Dr. Jawad Arshad
Now the team is working with a number of employers to have a guaranteed pool of patients ready towards the end of the year. They will then bring in providers simultaneously to ensure that providers have patients and patients have options.
Jawad sold his urgent care clinic six months ago and is now working a few hours per month in clinical with most of his time focused on WoW Health. Taking some time to reflect on his journey thus far, he had some choice pieces of advice for physicians thinking about taking a business idea to the next level.
- Ask yourself – what are your strengths?
- Look for collaboration – it’s better to have 5% of $100 than 100% of $1
- Have a clear understanding of what the problem is that you are solving.
- Understand that seeing a problem and implementing a solution are two very different things.
- You have to be patient.
- You must persevere.
- Look for mentors and people that are willing to share their experience.
As is the case for most entrepreneurs, Jawad's journey has not been all smooth sailing. He seized opportunities, learned from failures, and finally found the right problem to solve. And had the experience to build the right team to do it. Now WoW Health is poised to launch and may well change the healthcare marketplace forever.
Jawad is a firm believer in the power of collaboration and mentorship. He has extended an offer to our listeners to reach out to him with questions or for advice. You can find his contact information and more information about WoW Health in the links below.
Links for today's episode:
Thanks to our sponsor…
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I hope to see you next time on the PNC Podcast.
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