David Hannon of Carecard: “There is no one-size fits all solution to the US healthcare system”

There is no one-size fits all solution to the US healthcare system. However, the incentive systems we put in place are ripe for change. We need to rethink the entire system to drive the adoption of technology, transparency and behaviors that align with the most desirable outcomes that can benefit the greatest number of people. As […]

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There is no one-size fits all solution to the US healthcare system. However, the incentive systems we put in place are ripe for change. We need to rethink the entire system to drive the adoption of technology, transparency and behaviors that align with the most desirable outcomes that can benefit the greatest number of people.


As a part of my interview series with leaders in healthcare, I had the pleasure to interview David Hannon.

David Hannon is the CEO and founder of Carecard. He graduated from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and started his post-college career working in finance. After working in finance, he was inspired to create Carecard to make prescriptions affordable for all. Carecard is making prescriptions affordable for everyone, regardless of insurance status .


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My career path is very non-traditional. I started in finance and almost immediately knew I wanted to be involved in technology, because of the enormous impact I knew it could have on the world. After some early-stage venture investing and seeing how companies were built and scaled, I moved into product development and instantly fell in love with building technology. Building is about circumventing the obstacles that have been presented to you.

The actual genesis of Carecard was when I went to the pharmacy and my prescription was over 200 dollars. I was surprised (and confused) because I had great insurance at the time and could not believe the staggering price tag. I took a deeper dive into our healthcare system over the next few months. I spoke with insiders and investors that I knew and it became clear that I could make the biggest difference starting in the prescription space. Carecard was born soon after.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

It has been an incredible journey, and we have barely scratched the surface. The most interesting part of building Carecard is the unwavering support from unexpected places. I’m referring not only to our initial investors, but also to cohorts of testers, potential partners and supporters from far and wide who are rooting for our success. As an entrepreneur, it is common to feel siloed, especially when taking on a sizeable (450 Billion dollars annual) industry, and these folks’ dedication and passion for helping at the crucial, early stages is something I will never forget.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Too many to count! And I will surely make more mistakes. I will say that these mistakes are meant to guide you, not define you.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

When I started Carecard, I wanted to make a positive impact at a community level. By providing affordable prescription healthcare at the lowest cost possible, we believe the financial savings that our members achieve will have a huge impact on their lives and give them access to practical, affordable healthcare solutions. We want to extend those savings to as many people as possible. That is why we work with a variety of organizations, non-profits and healthcare providers. Many underserved communities simply don’t know that these opportunities exist and we’re raising awareness to help everyone save on their prescriptions and to make healthcare more affordable. We are sending a portion of our net proceeds to support charitable initiatives for small businesses, healthcare debt and those affected by Covid-19. We’re happy to support long-time giving partners on the front lines of affordable health.

What advice would you give to other healthcare leaders to help their team to thrive?

Speak to your customers as often as possible. Understand their pain points. Their stories are powerful and can often shed light on where your product or offering needs improvement. In this space, it is nearly impossible to build great products in a vacuum. I always try to talk to at least one customer a day.

According to this study cited by Newsweek, the US healthcare system is ranked as the worst among high income nations. This seems shocking. Can you share with us 3–5 reasons why you think the US is ranked so poorly?

At the moment, our healthcare system is based on generating revenue from sick people instead of allocating resources towards preventative measures. Incentives are misaligned across the healthcare ecosystem, which creates inefficiencies, which then drive up costs. Every single person in this country wants quality, affordable healthcare but there are a number of competing factors that stand in the way. Providers and patients have a different set of incentives — what is good for providers is not always best for the patient, and vice versa. 1/3 of all healthcare expenses comes from bloated administrative costs due to misaligned incentives.

You are a “healthcare insider”. If you had the power to make a change, can you share 5 changes that need to be made to improve the overall US healthcare system? Please share a story or example for each.

The U.S Healthcare system is wildly inefficient, consuming 3.65T dollars, representing almost 18% of our gross domestic product. There are a few areas that can dramatically improve healthcare in America: Technology, transparency and primary care for preventive health. These themes are more inextricably linked than you might think.

Technology can be the great equalizer in healthcare. It needs to be at the forefront of patient-centered care and we need to be looking to silicon valley for winning examples. We should be closely tracking the health, wellness, outcomes, and patient costs at every touch point of the care continuum. This is the best way to reduce inefficiencies and redundancies across the bloated healthcare system, while simultaneously improving access to preventative healthcare. Consequently, this is also our best bet in decreasing healthcare costs across the spectrum. Wearables, telemedicine and artificial intelligence will play a major part in preventative healthcare going forward. The famed Peter Drucker quote, “what gets measured, gets managed” comes to mind. To cite a few specific examples, look no further than Google’s deep learning program, AlphaFold, which can accurately predict 3D models of protein structures and has the potential to research in every field of biology and healthcare. This is perhaps the biggest breakthrough in 50 years and its implications in biology and healthcare are enormous. Most recently, Deepmind created an A.I for breast cancer analysis that outperformed all human radiologists on pre-selected data sets to identify breast cancer, by an average of 11.5%. These are but a few of many technological breakthroughs that can be applied to all facets of the healthcare industry.

Transparency has been an issue in healthcare for as long as I can remember. We need open and efficient marketplaces across the industry. One company I’m involved with is solving this for prescription medications. There are a host of tools at carecard.co that allow you to price compare prescriptions and discounts at different pharmacies in the same way you would price compare hotels or airline flights prior to purchase. For example, most people have no idea that drug prices vary wildly between pharmacies and that oftentimes the insurance price isn’t always your best bet. Carecard is helping to create an efficient market by adding transparency and optionality to what has historically been an opaque industry.

Lastly, we need more primary care physicians in the system working on preventative health.

Getting someone to the doctor is a lot cheaper than having the ambulance come a week later for a medical emergency. If this means remote care or telehealth, then this is where we need to be allocating resources. Our current system rewards doctors and hospitals for performing as many procedures and prescribing as many drugs as possible. These incentives need to change towards providing easier access to preventative services. There is still far too little being done to change this. A fundamental shift towards value-based preventative care is critical for our ability to drive lasting, positive change in the US healthcare system.

Ok, its very nice to suggest changes, but what concrete steps would have to be done to actually manifest these changes? What can a) individuals, b) corporations, c) communities and d) leaders do to help?

There is no one-size fits all solution to the US healthcare system. However, the incentive systems we put in place are ripe for change. We need to rethink the entire system to drive the adoption of technology, transparency and behaviors that align with the most desirable outcomes that can benefit the greatest number of people.

I’m interested in the interplay between the general healthcare system and the mental health system. Right now, we have two parallel tracks, mental/behavioral health and general health. What are your thoughts about this status quo? What would you suggest to improve this?

Mental healthcare and physical healthcare are inextricably linked and need to be treated as such.

Mental symptoms and disorders often manifest in physical symptoms and disorders. We need to absorb mental health into our preventative and primary care systems immediately.

How would you define an “excellent healthcare provider”?

A provider who puts the patient’s needs above the needs of the system.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“It’s later than you think.”

This is something my dad still says to me and I thank him for it. The truth is that we are only here for a short time so build the life you want and help as many people as you can along the way.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Always. At Carecard, we are working on some exciting initiatives that will help make prescriptions even more affordable. So with or without insurance, Carecard allows you to access the savings you deserve. By providing affordable prescription healthcare at the lowest cost possible, we believe the financial savings that cardholders achieve will have a huge impact on their lives.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better healthcare leader? Can you explain why you like them?

My favorite books and podcasts have little to do with healthcare. Much of my healthcare inspiration is derived from technology and innovators in adjacent industries.. I spend a lot of my energy and focus on building delightful and effortless experiences for our customers.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would create a mandatory year abroad program. The world is full of wonderment and sometimes all that is missing is a little perspective. My life has been guided by experiences here and abroad that underscore how much we are all in this together.

How can our readers follow you online?

Readers can connect with my on LinkedIn or Twitter and can learn more about Carecard by visiting Carecard.co.

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