CoverUS (pronounced “cover us”) is a blockchain-based, pre-launch healthcare startup that plans to reward its members with cryptocurrency in exchange for the right to broker their healthcare data. The startup won the Blockchain for Social Impact Hackathon in the Financial Inclusion category in November, and was featured in a FastCompany article earlier this month. Although no date is set for their ICO, CoverUS plans to hold a crowd sale of their utility token in 2018.
The CoverUS mission
Cofounder and CEO Christopher Sealey argues that there are two problems in healthcare that CoverUS is directly addressing: one moral and one practical. The moral problem is that patients “should own their own data,” rather than be forced to sit back helplessly as companies buy and sell it. The practical problem is that a patient’s EHR does not tell the whole story of their health status, which requires the patient’s input. CEO Sealey believes that CoverUS’s solution can help solve both of these problems, while significantly reducing the patient’s healthcare costs in the process.
The CoverUS app
At the center of the CoverUS strategy is a subscription-based mobile app. New users simply download and interact with the app, which stores their health data on their smartphone and serves as their digital wallet.
The 21st Century Cures Act
To provide patients with quick access to their EHRs through the CoverUS mobile app, the company is taking advantage of a particular law within the federal 21st Century Cures Act, which mandates that as of January 1st, 2018, electronic healthcare systems in the U.S. must provide intuitive, open APIs that allow patients to easily access their EHRs.
The blockchain: balancing privacy and sharing
According to the CoverUS team, storing patient health data on the blockchain is necessary for two reasons: to keep the patient in the center of the decision-making surrounding third-party access to their data, and to achieve a balance between data-privacy and data-sharing.
Essentially serving as a health data broker, CoverUS rewards patient-subscribers that allow the company to share their health data. The rewards come in the form of the company’s B2C digital currency: CoverCoin. CoverUS maintains that managing your CoverCoin account will be as simple as managing a frequent flyer rewards account. The app will prominently display the patient-subscriber’s total CoverCoin in their digital wallet, along with a list of recent activities that serve as credits and debits to their account. The mobile app prototype that the CoverUS team uses as an example shows a patient with a credit of “+75” for sharing their health data via a “Family Membership Survey” and a debit of “-120” for using their CoverCoin to pay for “Gym Membership Dues.” Two prominent buttons (Spend and Earn) lead the user-patient into the two complementary sides of the app.
Tokens for healthcare
According to CoverUS team, in order to incentivize healthy living, CoverCoin can only be redeemed for health-related expenses. Cofounder Andrew Hoppin argues that if the company were to pay patients in cash, and they were to “spend that money on candy and cigarettes,” it would defeat the “virtuous cycle” of healthy living that CoverUS aims to reinforce.
The CoverCoin wallet versus an HSA
Patients can use the CoverCoin in their digital wallets to pay for many of the same health-related expenses that health savings accounts (HSAs) provide for. However, the CoverUS team argues that their digital wallet is more flexible than a health savings account (HSA). Patients can redeem their tokens for a wider range of health-related services and activities, including rides to a doctor or dentist appointment; childcare during a hospital stay; and gym memberships.
There is also a community dimension to the CoverUS rewards program. By joining CoverUS, patients will also join the CoverUS subscriber community, and will learn about the health goals and financial struggles of other community members. If they wish, patients can transfer some of their rewards to other community members. They can also help other patients further their health-related goals in non-financial ways and earn further CoverUS rewards in the process.
Initial coin offering
Although CoverUS has not yet set a date for their ICO, cofounder and CEO Sealey told FastCompany that the startup plans to raise funds for their launch through a crowd sale of the company’s B2B utility token in 2018.