Nick Soman

@nicksoman

US healthcare needs a nervous system.

We’re building it at Decent.com. Here’s why.

During my second year of business school I got Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which paralyzes your nervous system so your body can’t take signals from your brain. I was in intensive care for four months, and rehab for another six. I could see, hear, and think clearly, but I couldn’t feel anything or move.

I’m alive and well today because I had good health care and a great community. My parents, family practice docs turned medical executives, flew from Seattle to Boston with my sister. Friends visited often. Feeling started to come back, first to my core and working its way out. Eventually I returned to school in a wheelchair, and then started to walk again. My feet and hands were still numb.

A month after returning to school, I was boiling pasta in an old pot. I lifted it and started to walk gingerly to the sink, and the bottom fell out. A half gallon of scalding water poured directly onto my feet, along with the melting metal solder that had held the pot together. I remember looking down at my foot as it turned bright red. Watching the silver metal boiling on my skin, and wondering if I was taking permanent damage. I couldn’t feel a thing.

Our nervous system is important. It tells us when we’re doing something that is bad for us. And it’s a marvel of shared governance: what is sometimes called a “central” nervous system is actually a distributed network made up of your brain, spinal cord, organs, and nerves: players in an elegant symphony of aligned self interest that coordinates the efficiency of your movements and your life.

Where’s the nervous system of US healthcare?

Americans spend $3,000,000,000,000 per year on healthcare. That’s three trillion. I had to look it up to confirm. Most experts think 25% of that is waste and “administrative overhead.” And it’s getting worse. Freelancers like me are seeing our premiums rise by more than 20% per year.

This is bad for us. Why is it happening?

There are no consensus answers, or even first principles. Some think it’s the failure of our government to offer nationalized healthcare. Others think it’s the regulatory burden imposed by government on free market solutions.

The deeper problem is a disconnect between what is happening and what we feel.

Why can’t we feel it when we’re hurting ourselves? Or hurting each other?

The deepest problem is misaligned incentives. From an economic standpoint, consumers want to pay as little as possible for the care they need. Clinicians want to provide only care they can be paid for. Insurance companies want to pay as little as possible. And employers, uniquely positioned in America between consumers and their care, work to juggle the interests of all three.

Decent aligns our incentives around quality affordable care.

Our new company Decent is building a decentralized peer to peer healthcare protocol on blockchain technology.

We believe we’ve found a way to align our incentives around quality affordable care. It’ll take time, but the mission is everyone. Affordable healthcare for all.

We believe we are building the nervous system of US healthcare.

We believe networks beat companies.

And we’ll have a lot more to announce soon.

If this resonates with you, let’s talk about it. We’re building an early community on Telegram that is going to help inspire us, kick the tires on our vision, and hold us accountable to get there. Please join us today and make your voice heard. We need your help to make Decent work for everyone.

Me in the hospital in 2009

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