I was listening to a panel discussion and heard Brandon Weber use the phrase the “barbarians at the gate” of the healthcare industry. I think I reached out to invite him to come on the podcast before the end of the segment. But at risk of spoiler alerts, let me sum up what I think is so interesting about Brandon’s insights, which he talks about on the show.
First of all, it isn’t an “oh, heavens, some companies out there are trying to disrupt the status quo,” like this is some sort of news flash that hasn’t been tossed out with police lights and sirens however many times already over however many years.
Brandon gets into the sheer magnitude of what’s going on, right now, from a capital investment standpoint but also from a human capital standpoint. How many crazy smart proven disrupter-type people have come along with that capital?
Brandon also touches on something I’ve been thinking about lately: coalition building, for lack of a better word for it. If we have status quo behemoths with market caps of a third of a trillion dollars out there, some start-up who is super happy to have scored a however-many-million-dollar seed round is not a threat in and of themselves. But if many of these littles are aligned and working together in win-win ways that ultimately take market share from the big dogs, now things get interesting.
So, while much attention is focused on point solutions that disrupt some aspect of care delivery, we might want to take another look at the less visible entities that are putting platforms underneath: the companies that are building out services that offer economies of scale, that create “pipes” helping patients connect with appropriate solutions that make this emerging market just work better. It’s these platform companies, combined with a general willingness to collaborate, that make ganging up a sort of natural strategy to build a really flourishing ecosystem. And it’s that whole ecosystem that I would consider the most likely disrupter within an industry very much designed for the big to get bigger.
Anecdotally, I see both of these ecosystem-building factors happening (ie, the platforms and then also a really unprecedented level of collaborative, all-boats-rise kind of thinking). There are communities like the one that Brian Klepper runs for benefits professionals or Health Tech Nerds or outofpocket.health. But based on what I see in these groups and elsewhere, the sharing and helpfulness is really encouraging and heartwarming if you’re not an incumbent, I guess.
My guest in this podcast, as mentioned, is Brandon Weber, who is the CEO and founder of Nava. This is one of those foundational-type upstarts. Brandon’s company Nava is a benefits brokerage but one that’s built on a platform that crochets together everything it takes to support a best-practice employer health plan. For example, point solutions have to be easy to buy and fold in, while on the back end, all of those point solutions and others need access to the right data so that appropriate employees can be engaged and make the most of the benefits offered. If you think about it, it’s easy to see how having a really strong foundation here amplifies the value that can be delivered and accelerates change management.
Coming up also, stay tuned because I’m interviewing Kristin Begley about optimal digital front doors, which is sort of an extension of the conversation that you’ll hear in this episode.
You can learn more at nava.io or by visiting their LinkedIn page. Brandon Weber is the cofounder and CEO at Nava, a modern benefits brokerage on a mission to provide high-quality, affordable access to healthcare to all Americans. By melding cutting-edge tech solutions with deep industry expertise, Nava aims to fix healthcare, one benefits plan at a time.
Prior to Nava, Brandon cofounded VTS, a tech-driven leasing and asset management platform that transformed the commercial real estate marketplace. Tru