We’re forward thinkers. We constantly look ahead to identify new technologies, ideas and initiatives that will help the Blues be more competitive. 


Supporting HealthTech Startups — That’s How You Advance Digital Health

NASCO is a community of forward-thinking health plans, leading technology providers and expert talent and, together, we’re advancing the future of healthtech. In fact, in July 2018, we bolstered our innovation community. NASCO made a significant commitment to support Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) to create a new initiative for entrepreneurs in healthcare-focused technology: the ATDC Health Technology (HealthTech) Program. 

“We are extremely excited about the partnership with NASCO,” said Kirk Barnes, HealthTech Catalyst for the ATDC. “The company embraces innovation and technology to improve the way that healthcare is delivered.” 

As the founding corporate sponsor of the program, NASCO supports the current and future HealthTech startups in the ATDC’s portfolio. Through this partnership, NASCO, our plan partners and the ATDC benefit from a bidirectional flow of ideas and innovation — the ATDC startup companies get the opportunity to connect with established healthcare technology organizations, while NASCO and our plan partners have the ability to leverage ATDC and Georgia Tech educational assets, exchange ideas with innovative thought leaders and gain access to emerging new technologies in healthcare.

Our partnership with the ATDC HealthTech Program is critical to our mission to deliver innovative health services and to support the Georgia healthcare and technology communities,” said David Weeks, Chief Technology Officer for NASCO. “The HealthTech vertical is already proving to be a key incubator of new ideas that will enable changes in healthcare.

As part of the vertical’s activities, NASCO joined the ATDC in presenting its Healthcare Innovation Summit, which featured the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This event, held in Atlanta, provided a forum where leaders from the federal government collaborated with ATDC startup companies in an initiative to foster and generate new technology breakthroughs in both government and commercial healthcare. 

Most recently, NASCO hosted Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s IT and Digital teams at the ATDC for Innovation Day, which resulted in brainstorming several great ideas that have the concrete potential to make an impact.  

“The combination of our plan partners having access to some of the brightest entrepreneurs in healthtech and, in turn, these entrepreneurs having access to some of the most experienced leaders in healthtech — and we’re all sharing ideas and collaborating and co-creating — is truly an exciting opportunity to make real change in healthcare and bring real value to patients and consumers,” said Weeks. 

The more than 40 startups in the ATDC’s current HealthTech portfolio are building companies with innovative approaches to population health, caregiver support, billing fraud, precision medicine, genomics, medical devices, diagnostics, data analytics and process improvements in drug research. In addition to one-on-one coaching and resources for commercial success, the ATDC’s HealthTech Program provides healthcare-focused commercialization workshops, organizes hackathons and hosts industry thought leaders in healthcare innovations in regulation, production and manufacturing. 


Blockchain: An Industry Disruptor? NASCO Consents.

In 2018, blockchain bubbled to the top of the list for most organizations in regard to technologies and innovations that have an impact on business models and technology landscapes. NASCO, like most organizations with an innovation program, conducted research, evaluated platforms and performed simple tests to better understand this new technology. After a successful proof of concept, we established a consortium to explore, with our team of technologists and partners, the industry-leading activities we could initiate using this new technology.  

Blockchain is based upon a distributed ledger, and it’s beneficial for networks of participants who have agreed to an operating and security model that eliminates transactional friction and enables trust between the parties. Unlike most transactional environments today, in a blockchain solution, no one party owns centralized control of the data; therefore, participants must agree on formats and protocols to participate. This technology has been proven effective in the finance and supply chain fields. 

Blockchain as a technology is not a solution for a single organization — its value increases with the size of its integrated network. So, we began working with our Blue partners to examine how blockchain could help transform our already strong collective business network into an efficient, real-time, secure, trustable ecosystem that would benefit us all. We completed an intensive exercise to establish that ecosystem and pressure test a number of potentially valuable business opportunities as blockchain solutions. 

In the summer of 2018, NASCO collaborated with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA), Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Horizon Healthcare Services, Inc. to form a consortium focused on delivering breakthrough technologies for the healthcare industry. The consortium, aptly named Coalesce Health Alliance (Coalesce), initially focused on evaluating the application of blockchain to improve the efficiency and accuracy of member healthcare claim accumulations across entities within the Blues ecosystem.  

Coalesce has begun executing an Alpha Pilot project to demonstrate a basic distributed accumulators blockchain solution in a private cloud environment. This Alpha Pilot project’s goal is to address the challenges we have all experienced in managing member accumulations — not being able to accurately identify members across entities, working with stale or incomplete data and running into inconsistent integration formats — to ultimately increase operational efficiencies and improve the member experience. 

Interest in Coalesce has increased since the introduction of the Alpha Pilot project, as several other Blue plans are now participating in the consortium’s advisory groups to evaluate the potential business value for their health plans. Additionally, BCBSMA was instrumental in bringing Express Scripts to Coalesce, marking the involvement of the first of what will be many integrated benefit manager partners in the consortium. 

Once the Alpha Pilot project is complete in late Q1 2019, the Coalesce Health Alliance Steering Committee will review the project and determine how it will progress forward. 

We’re only at the beginning of our journey of testing traditional notions and transforming healthcare through innovative solutions, but we’re excited about the possibilities, and we’re grateful to be part of a consortium of partners who are imagining the future of healthcare with us.

You Need to Meet Consumers Where They Are. NASCO Can Help You Do That!


It’s no secret that today’s consumers demand instantaneous results. You and I are consumers — we know the deal. 

We’ve become so accustomed to obtaining information immediately through outlets like email, text messaging, social media and mobile apps that we expect the same immediate access to our healthcare information. This is the very reason that health plans have consumer-centric strategies in place to meet member expectations for a modern digital experience. So, how is NASCO enabling these consumer-centric strategies? How are we helping our health plan partners provide a connected, engaging experience?

When it comes to consumer behaviors and patterns, NASCO understands the critical need for providing timely, accurate and consistent information across all channels and contexts, which is why we developed our Digital Connector — to keep you and your members digitally connected. NASCO’s Digital Connector provides immediate access to trusted, secure and actionable events and data contained within our products, systems and data repositories, and it enables health plans to transform their consumer-centric services.   

Health plans have used the Digital Connector platform to enable event-based servicing for specific basic member events within MembersEdge® — our enrollment, membership, billing and rating product. Membership management events are paramount in helping health plans further engage with their members and guide better care. For example, NASCO can enable plan–member outreach with an address change event, or we can be the impetus for member wellness with a preauthorization event. These real-time event notification capabilities can help health plans with member retention and ensure that members remain Blue for life. For example, when a child is aging off their parents’ plan, or when a member is aging into Medicare, NASCO can provide the data needed for health plans to remove the friction of the enrollment process and help their member select a plan that is perfect for their needs, based on experience and analytics.  

NASCO events can trigger a health plan’s anti-fraud detection workflows in real time, or they can support provider outreach to avoid things like credential expiration. Digital Connector can also be used for claims-based events or to support and automate health plan workflows. For example, a health plan could use real-time events to identify claims paid within a retro-termination for nonpayment to assist in recoupment efforts or to facilitate automated claims correction to potentially improve first pass rates. 

In addition to these real-time events, NASCO is collaborating with several of our current plan partners to co-create a developer portal that will enable access to integration components (APIs) for our products. The combination of self-discovery of information and real-time notification of business events is truly a digital enabler. The possibilities are endless.