Interview with WELL founder Ildar Fazulyanov

Speakers: Eike Post, PhD & Ildar Fazulyanov

Video interview:

Eike Post: Welcome. Today, I have the pleasure to talk to Ildar Fazulyanov who is the founder of WELL. Ildar, welcome.

Ildar Fazulyanov: Thank you.

Eike: Ildar, I’d like to get started by you introducing WELL to the audience in one to two minutes.

Ildar: WELL is the Airbnb of healthcare. What do I mean by Airbnb of healthcare? I mean it’s online to offline platform, and just like with Airbnb, one can entrust a stranger with the keys to his house. When you hire a doctor or work with a doctor, you’re basically entrusting your health, keys to your health, keys to your life even, at times. So having a mechanism to scale that trust, which blockchain is perfect for, is what we’re striving to achieve.

Another problem that we solve, related to trust, is making payments frictionless in healthcare as well via smart contracts and permission blockchain because a huge part of healthcare friction and cost is payment mechanism.

Eike: Okay, thank you. WELL, as I understand, is not only an ICO, but it’s also an existing company. Is that correct?

Ildar: Yes.

Eike: You have been in existence since I think 2015 already, right?

Ildar: That’s right, yeah.

Eike: But you already raised, I think, some investment. Is that correct?

Ildar: Yeah, both for the company, the operating business and the platform, the ICO platform, the token platform of blockchain.

Eike: Yeah. That is something that makes you really stand out because a lot of ICOs are just ideas. So I see that you have differentiated yourself by having a business already established.

Ildar: Yes. Thank you. I think that’s an overall trend is for established businesses, not just white papers.

Eike: Yes. Ildar, tell us a little bit about how you got started with WELL.

Ildar: Three years ago, I broke my leg and I was trying to get physiotherapy, unsuccessfully actually because of some insurance issues. Fast forward three weeks later, after that, I was on my crutches and I broke my leg, and it was a much more complicated break — re-break I should say. I was basically bedridden for four months, did get physiotherapy finally, and actually had issues with that as well.

That’s what I came up with the idea to have an online to offline platform and started WELL three years ago without blockchain. The more successful I became, the more problems I encountered, specifically trust and payment related problems.

About a year ago, I came across blockchain and really realized that it is now getting ready for healthcare to solve the problems that I encountered as a healthcare provider.

So I started writing the white paper and basically bouncing my idea by people I trust such as former senior vice president of Blue Cross and some other advisors and investors and industry experts, and about four months ago, we started our kind of private pre-sale, and now we’re in a public pre-sale phase.

Eike: Okay. If I understand correctly, you’re using blockchain technology for the payment of doctors that are, as I understand, many times virtual doctors giving you consultation over the Internet, but it’s not only for the payment. Is that right?

Ildar: That’s right. Payment and connection online is kind of the overall glue, but it is an online to offline platform, so most of the healthcare occurs still in person.

So we initiate online, and the blockchain kind of connects patient and doctor via payment mechanism smart contracts, but the interactions could occur in person as well. Yes, we work with actual physical doctors, physical clinics and patients visiting those.

Eike: Okay. Could you again describe a use case from a patient’s point of view? A patient is ill, and what specific problems does the patient face, and how can WELL resolve those problems?

Ildar: I can give a couple of use cases, one US example since we’re based in the US and one medical tourism foreign example.

In the US, I will give you an example of my girlfriend who has insurance. She needed an MRI for her knee, got quoted $2,400 MRI cost. Her insurance provided her a 10 percent discount, and she needed to pay $2,200 out of pocket still.

In our network of doctors that we already have in Southern California, I was able to connect her with an MRI specialist office for $400.

That’s the nature of our — Basically, insurance companies and other big players can negotiate substantial discounts that you as an individual cannot get. Even with the best negotiation skills and connections, you may get 10 / 30 percent off, but the reality is you can negotiate much better rates.

Then once we provide immutable blockchain-enabled ability to get paid for these Insurance players so there’s no chargebacks for credit card, there’s no three percent processing fee, then it becomes really attractive to these health care providers. That’s one example.

Eike: Right. Tell us where you see WELL in five years from now or 10 years from now. What do you see as the big vision of WELL?

Ildar: Our huge vision is actually, over the next five years, saving one million lives. How do I arrive at that number, and why do I even say that? Can blockchain really save lives? In the US, third leading cause of death is actually medical errors. 250,000 people die. If you extrapolate globally, that’s over five million globally, and I would argue maybe even more because the US Healthcare system is pretty good.

Secondly, if you add misdiagnosis and non-treatment to medical errors, I would argue it’s probably the leading cause of death in the world. So by providing online access to doctors, transparency, readily being available to connect to a doctor online via secure messaging or video (tele-health) and then also being able to order online pharmacies and making sure they’re potent, they are not fake, and getting second / third diagnosis, opinion and diagnosis, I think that we can eliminate a lot of these medical errors, non-treatment and misdiagnosis, and therefore save lives.

Eike: Great vision. Can you tell us a little bit about where you are right now? We know that the company already exists, so in terms of the development, in terms of reaching that goal, what have you already been able to accomplish?

Ildar: In the United States, we achieved 50 percent below industry re-admission rate. That’s actually probably the best indicator of how well the treatment is going. It is that the patient is not re-admitted for the same cause within 30 days which is actually exactly what happened to me because of lack of healthcare. Having consistent care and making sure that it occurred in a timely manner, we’ve accomplished that.

Then, we have conducted tens of thousands of tele-health visits over the last three years, so we have the tele-health platform finished. We have the smart contract and ability to pay with WELL token in the system. We’re working on the frictionless blockchain which will take a few months to complete.

Eike: Okay, great. Everything sounds great. Investors have the opportunity to invest in your initial coin offering. Tell us a little bit about the coin. I assume it’s a utility token, and what utility would the coin provide?

Ildar: The utility of the WELL token is in ability to use and get healthcare services whether it’s online consults or online pharmacy, medical tourism, that’s the utility of the token.

Eike: And one question I had is right now, WELL is mainly about online virtual consultations, but you said it’s also possible to use the token in physically visiting a doctor offline, and then you said that, in the future I guess, you also plan to do medical tourism. Is that right?

Ildar: That’s right. Because we are global and different countries have different healthcare environments — For example, in Korea and let’s say China, most likely the best case for us is to provide medical tourism because the countries have highly regulated and already established healthcare systems.

Some of the nomads that will use our system may use both over virtual platform and ability to pay in those countries, but the big opportunity, for example, is for connecting Chinese patients with Korean plastic surgeons or dentists.

Eike: One thing that I’m very interested in when I’m looking at investment opportunities is the kind of investment protection because I’ve been on the receiving and giving end of start-up investments and they’re always clauses that you’re probably more than familiar with like salary caps, vesting periods, co-sale rights, voting rights on important decisions which, in an ICO, really there is very little of those clauses that protect investors.

So if there is an investor that, especially due to many scams that have happened, that feels a bit uncomfortable about investing in ICOs, is there anyway that you can show them that this money would be used for furthering the company objective?

Ildar: I think it’s plagues pretty much any kind of ICO company from the smallest one with just a concept white paper and idea maybe to established businesses like Telegram. That’s what I think SEC and some of the government bodies are wrestling with because it is a currency. It’s not shares in a company providing those rights. I think smart contracts alleviate some of that because we have vesting periods for tokens for reserves for the team.

As far as some of these other protection rights that you mentioned, unfortunately there is no mechanism, so I think people deciding on ICO’s should just do their due diligence and look for the team and the team’s track record and the types of people that they’re dealing with. I mean, if you ask for my advice, that’s probably what I would do.

Eike: Yeah. Of course I do that, and of course it gives some assurance that WELL already has received money from institutional investors. Finally, I would like to give you the chance to tell the audience why in your opinion the WELL token is a great investment and why you think in the future it’s probably going to increase in value.

Ildar: Our attorneys tell us that we cannot assure increase in value or whether it’s a great investment or not. I can tell you one thing that we do say. We say, “Join it. Use it. Grow it.” By that, we mean join our ICO, and if you believe in our vision and in us, join forces with us and then use our token. Then by using it, I believe we will grow the ecosystem and the token will grow with it, and we will be able to actually save lives together.

For example, we are a for-profit company and ecosystem. However, we want to do charitable things as well and provide our platform resources to charitable organizations. I actually believe that it will help us become more profitable because we can attract doctors to our platform and do some really cool things also.

Eike: Great. Ildar, thank you so much for your time. I really am convinced that you will have a lot of success in the ICO. Then beyond the ICO, I believe that there’s a good chance that you will be able to accomplish your vision of growing WELL as well as saving lives.

Ildar: Thank you.

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