When we're out at conferences, it seems like PokitDok always has some explaining to do. What do you do? How are you different? What's an API? How do you make money? How do you pronounce your company name?
For the record, it sounds like "pocket dock".
Even so, if you go to enough healthcare conferences, you tend to hear the same questions. So going to FinDEVr in NYC, a financial technology show, was particularly interesting. What does a little old health company have to do with finance? It's a good question. Might even be interesting to answer here, so here goes.
The world of finance has always cared about health. Giant hospital buildings full of modern equipment don't pay for themselves. But the story is getting more complex. In 2014 (the last year for which I could get numbers), hospital systems had to write off $42.8 billion in lost revenue, either from bad debt or charity care1. That's almost real money we're talking about, there.
The consumer side is just as gruesome. Health expenditures are now the number one cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States2.
Sometimes it's not good to be #1.
So with the situation becoming increasingly dire on the provider and on the consumer sides, the finance industry is taking a hard look at how to stop the bleeding. And it turns out that PokitDok is in a fairly unique position to help. We process tons of healthcare transactions via our APIs, and we can look at them holistically, instead of as a disparate collection of unrelated verticals. We put everything into a graph model, and have alarmingly smart data scientists that can analyze that graph to create data products and analysis that you couldn't extract from a mass of unrelated relational tables. What's really neat is that these data products have applications outside of the traditional health space. For example - and here's the point - finance.
One way financial institutions are trying to stem the tide of bad debt is by offering health-specific lending options. In the same way that your local bank or credit union encourages you to check with them first for financing options for buying a new car, they're looking at doing the same for major medical procedures. But what they've found is that people often manage their financial and medical lives very differently. You might be bad at paying your credit card bills on time, but if your doctor prescribes a medication or a follow-up visit, you're on top of it. And when they're trying to decide whether to extend credit for a medical procedure, a purely financially-based credit score often doesn't tell the whole story. That's where PokitDok's Health Credit Outcome (HCO) comes in. HCO is a rating product which, with the customer's permission, creates a measure of a person's propensity to pay, informed with data from their health history. This allows financial institutions to have, essentially, an entirely new axis of rating and qualification when deciding to extend credit for medical procedures.
There's more information about HCO on PokitDok.com. We're doing pilots with a few un-nameable but gigantic financial institutions, and shaping exactly what the product looks like. Obviously, there are a whole stream of interesting operational, regulatory, and ethical questions that have to be considered when moving data, even a computed score devoid of personal identification, from a medical to a financial context.
At the very least, it gives me an interesting answer to the question of "Why are you here, exactly?"
1. "American Hospital Association Uncompensated Hospital Care Cost Fact Sheet, 2016 Update", http://www.aha.org/content/16/uncompensatedcarefactsheet.pdf
2. "NerdWallet Health Finds Medical Bankruptcy Accounts for Majority of Personal Bankruptcies", https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/health/medical-bankruptcy/
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