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Christin Deacon | Amino

In this episode, Michael moderates a webinar that highlights an employer who took action to help their employees find higher quality, more cost-effective care. The episode highlights two panelists, one with Christin Deacon, the Assistant Director of the New Jersey State Health Plans, and the second with David Vivero, the Co-Founder and CEO of Amino. 

Christin is a healthcare leader and public sector entrepreneur. She is a former deputy attorney general and private sector restructuring attorney, and her unique background allows her to have a different perspective on the status quo in the realm of healthcare. She engaged with Amino to get ahold of out-of-network spend and make an impact on the trajectory of cost in New Jersey, which is $2B on pharmacy and $5B on medical and growing. 

When David Vivero spoke with Christin and learned the needs of the state and its members, he learned that staying within the network and better hospital selection were primary concerns. Employers and employees were having trouble finding cost-effective care, and he knew Amino’s platform could solve for that. 

The state was able to move fast and implement Amino in just eight months, and their first push was the digital experience and matching people with the right provider and tools. David explains that the goal was to solve the three fundamental problems of healthcare guidance: providing the data to inform a good decision, creating an experience that delivers results, and distributing it effectively. 

The Amino Smart Match label finds the high-performance network by stratifying the network by cost, quality, experience, and appropriateness, and their Integrated Benefits Tool connects the dots in the healthcare system so members cut through the noise and find exactly what they need. 

Amino is all about “Getting back to it.” They understand that people don’t want to be experts in healthcare and just want to be healthy with the support of quality, cost-effective care. And with an NPS score of over 80, it’s working. On the horizon, Christian sees more engagement in digital health, a spike in telemedicine, new models of delivery, and more opportunities for education. As for Amino, they have an exciting road ahead. They’re following trends in the market, working towards ER avoidance, and getting into retail clinics. 

Here’s a glance at what we discuss in this episode: 

  • 00:30 – Introducing the panelists and discussion.
  • 03:00 – Christin’s unique background, burnout, and draw to public service. 
  • 04:15 – The division of pensions and benefits and the health benefits climate in 2018.
  • 05:10 – Status quo, out-of-network spending, and getting ahold of cost and spend. 
  • 05:50 – The trajectory of cost: $2B of pharmacy, $5B on medical and growing.
  • 6:35 – One or two large claimants can make or break a year; you can’t assume someone is watching every dollar with such a large plan. 
  • 07:00 – Her interest in Amino; she listens to podcasts, including the Reconstructing Health podcast, and heard the interview with David Vivero.
  • 07:45 – David’s first conversation with Christin and how the Amino solution can benefit the state. 
  • 08:15 – The first few conversations were about learning the needs of the state and its members, specifically, staying in-network vs. out and hospital selection. 
  • 10:05 – They learned the challenges, stakeholders, and experience and the ways Amino could help. 
  • 10:50 – Employers and employees have trouble finding cost-effective care; Amino solves for that. 
  • 11:30 – They implement Amino in 8 months; Christin’s first step in moving it forward was the digital experience and matching people with the right providers and tools. 
  • 13:25 – They integrated Amino through their carrier to be wherever members go to get their information.
  • 14:05 – The obstacles Christin faced when replacing Horizon’s tool with Amino’s.
  • 14:25 – There’s general reluctance and lack of trust when there is a loss of control; they were forced to think differently. 
  • 15:00 – The fundamental problem of healthcare guidance in 3 layers and how Amino solves for them in a centralized way:
  • 15:25 – #1: Do you have the data to inform a good decision?
  • 15:45 – #2: Are you able to create an experience that delivers results?
  • 16:05 – #3: How does that get distributed?
  • 16:30 – Amino’s data already saw discharges, claims, what people are claiming and getting, and referral patterns, patient patterns.  
  • 17:20 – The Smart Match Label: Finding the high-performance network by stratifying the network by cost, quality, experience, and appropriateness.
  • 18:05 – They are flexible to support any existing platforms. 
  • 19:20 – Their unified benefits communication system and central platform have big implications. 
  • 20:00 – Quality, communication, and engagement made it a platform member would actually use.
  • 22:05 – The Integrated Benefits Tool: The thing that connects the dots in the healthcare ecosystem. 
  • 24:00 – People like Christin may work with benefits consultants, but members don’t; they need integrated benefits/tools layered organically in search results. 
  • 26:30 – Christin launched Amino in June of 2020, off-cycle to their benefits year; it wasn’t intentional but lent itself to a lot of opportunities. 
  • 28:00 – She believes off-cycle launches are important to help people better engage in the healthcare system and move away from the status quo.
  • 28:50 – The first six months of product launch: 
  • 29:15 – Everyone is digital now; they sent out emails and tied a wellness point program to creating an Amino account as an incentive.
  • 30:05 – Their 2021 communications calendar includes educators and is strategic ongoing engagement with micro-populations. 
  • 31:30 – What Amino is all about: “Get back to it.”
  • 31:30 – None of us want to be experts in healthcare; we just want to be healthy. 
  • 32:25 – The goal is to just get people to use it. Their NPS is over 80 and people will come back if they just use it once. 
  • 33:30 – Michael’s personal testimonial for Amino.
  • 34:50 – People just want to do less in healthcare; it should be a benefit, not a trade-off for members, and it should be about quality, not just cost savings. 
  • 35:35 – The variance of quality and cost in healthcare:
  • 36:00 – We value choice but we don’t consume a whole network; Amino takes claims data sets and scores them to better guide people to providers. 
  • 39:10 – Christin’s learnings with Amino: lots of Musculoskeletal needs, quality delivers on multiple fronts, word-of-mouth is important, member testimonials. 
  • 41:05 – What’s on the horizon for Christian: members engaging in digital health, a spike in telemedicine, new models of delivery, opportunities for education. 
  • 42:00 – Amino is following the trends in the market, working towards ER avoidance, retail clinics, and backlogging MSK surgeries.
  • 43:30 – Amino Refer: Access to intelligence in real-time.  
  • 45:50 – The difference between transparency and guidance: They direct to primary care or virtual care when this kind of guidance is needed – they still request referrals. 



About the Host, Michael Menerey

Michael Menerey is a Senior Vice President and Benefits Consultant with one of the largest Employee Benefits Brokerage & Consulting firms in the country. He is a partner in the Employee Benefits Practice and works in the Los Angeles office.

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