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Conversation with Snezhana Mahone in Transcarient

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Snezhana Mahone first reached out to me when we were included in an email from the HOA Board about a community project. She saw me interview her colleague at the 2021 Forbes Healthcare Summit and wanted to welcome me into the neighborhood by ordering coffee. In the world of high-powered women, this was equivalent to bringing in fresh donuts.

Sneezana is the Chief Operating Officer of Transcarnet, a new health and care experience company valued at $1.6 billion as of January 2022. With years of executive experience in the pharmacy benefits space, she is well positioned to lead the company’s recent launch of the pharmacy Transcarnet Care.

At the same time, she is also an on-the-go mom who prepares meals for her family before leaving town for the week and invites her neighbors for dinner on the weekends. When she and her family hosted us around Easter, she walked into a clean house with stuffed pastel rabbits welcoming us down the entrance way and baskets of eggs over the mantle. She is endlessly generous in her introductions and always finds time to answer questions and give advice.

Sneezana joined me on my living room sofa over coffee on a rainy Sunday morning in sneakers and a jacket to share her passion for her work, her life, and her commitment to supporting women in healthcare.

Why did you decide to join Transcarent after so many years of success with Express Scripts?

Last Friday was my first anniversary with Transcarent, and I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection. I’m a pharmacist by training, and I spent several years in a retail environment, then 13 years in Express Scripts. What drives me as a doctor is the consumer experience, which is not very good today. I remember standing as the pharmacist behind the counter, patients asked me, “Why does it cost so much?” “How it works?” , “I’m not sure how this works,” or “Why isn’t my insurance paying for it?” By leaving the retail space and going to the pharmacy benefits manager, I thought I could solve the problems patients told me in the pharmacy office.

After spending over a decade trying to redesign and fix some cost models, it still doesn’t work properly. So, when Glenn Tolman called me and told me he was building Transcarnet for transparency and consumer empowerment, it was the mission that was calling me, the same mission I’ve been chasing since the day I became a pharmacist. We didn’t fix the root cause and really listened to the consumer. Although I love the company and the legacy you left, now that I know the startup community, I can really see the impact we can have when you design care solutions with the consumer at the center.

What does transcarent do?

Transcarnet is redesigning the health and care experience that consumers today expect and demand. Health care is more expensive, complex, and confusing than ever before and it hasn’t improved. At Transcarent, we make care more transparent and empower the consumer, by delivering better results at affordable prices to both members and the employer, who often pays for this care.

We believe technology can provide better consumer care. Companies like Airbnb and Travelocity use technology to bring consumers closer to a virtual host or travel agent. We use technology to enable our members to get closer to caregivers and eliminate administrative friction in the middle. Just because you have an insurance card does not mean that you can access care, nor does it mean that you can access high-quality care.

Currently, as a health consumer, when you call the back of your insurance card, you have no idea what’s next. Your doctor just told you you have a new condition, or you need a procedure, and you don’t know where to go or how much it will cost. We use technology to provide reliable information to our members. We give them the ability to chat with a doctor within 60 seconds, make real-time appointments with local providers or look up cost information whether it’s on the medication side or the medical side. We also provide direct access to contact our health directories, which are the center of the care experience. A dedicated care attorney is just one 24/7 text, chat or call in the palm of your hand.

Transcarnet recently announced the launch of a pharmacy sponsorship trial. Can you tell me about that?

First, we offer a pharmacy marketplace, where members can shop for medicines via pharmacies, and find out the best price option via co-pay for insurance, cash or vouchers. And not only via retail pharmacies but also via virtual pharmacies and home delivery pharmacies such as The Mark Cuban Cost Plus, Walmart or Ro pharmacy. Second, we provide better clinical care with a comprehensive, clinically integrated care experience across medical and pharmaceutical benefits. And third, we are developing true, value-based sponsorship contracts with employers that are results-based and value-driven and provide 100% transparency.

What do you think of big technology versus big healthcare?

In healthcare, we haven’t yet touched on the consumer side, making it competitive. Amazons, Googles, and other large consumer-focused companies are trying to get into the healthcare space. The struggle is that you have to know about healthcare to reform healthcare, and you have to take a consumer-centric approach to using technology. Amazon’s acquisition of One Medical is one example of a huge healthcare company joining forces with huge consumer-focused companies. The key to any of these integrations will be effective integration, which will determine their success.

How do you stay present for the people in your life while excelling as a COO of a startup company?

First, my father always told me that in order to be successful in life, you have to find the right partner and set ground rules for how to live your life together. When I met my husband John, I was clear that when we had children, I would continue to work, and that this would require an equal division of household responsibilities in the life we ​​shall build together. Last week we just celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary. Therefore, a large part of my professional progress and success has been due to his support and endorsement. It was not always easy to reconcile business priorities as he himself is a very successful attorney and partner in a law firm. Second, I rely a lot on family and friends for support. It takes a village to raise children. We always say that we wouldn’t have gotten to where we both are today in our careers without the help of my mom who is the ultimate sponsor and super grandmother. Our kids play soccer, baseball, basketball, etc., and we often rely on family, friends, and neighbors to get kids where they need to go. Third, I ask myself, in total, in this month, quarter, year, have I been sufficiently balanced? Were you there for the most important things with the kids, spouse, family and friends? For me that is the total balance. It’s not easy; I can tell you that.

Do you think women “can have it all?”

definitely. The reason I keep doing what I do is for my kids, and especially to show my daughter that she can do it all. I can’t tell you how many Sunday nights I pack up for the next morning’s plane ride, and she says, “Mom when I grow up, can I wear that jacket so I can put on a show like you?” And I tell her, “You can do anything you want to do. If you want to be a lawyer, engineer, or tech developer, or if you want to give amazing presentations to inspire other women, you can do it and the opportunity will be yours.” When she says, “Other moms don’t travel much,” I tell her that, “Moms can travel and they can travel.”

I also want to inspire other young pharmacists. I never thought as someone who started out as a retail pharmacist at Walgreens that I would do what I’m doing now. I truly believe that women can have it all, you just have to love what you do, believe in yourself, and surround yourself with an ecosystem that supports you.

How do you upgrade women in transcarnet?

When I think specifically about the amazing women at Transcarent, we have women on our executive leadership team, including our chief financial officer, general counsel, and chief of staff. We have women running digital products, UX design, and operations. Even on the technology development side, we are specifically hiring women. This is a testament to our CEO and Board of Directors who strongly believe and encourage that women should sit at the table. We continue to strive for diversity of ideas, backgrounds, and experiences throughout the company, and it is so wonderful to be part of an organization that supports and empowers women.

Is there anything else you would like to share with readers who would like to follow similar paths?

I tell young women all the time to always be yourself and bring themselves fully into whatever you do. It opened up huge opportunities because I was curious, because I asked a lot of questions, because I was vocal. Looking back on my career, I took chances and said yes to every opportunity that came my way. For example, I didn’t have much experience with Medicare when I started at Medicare Advantage but I joined it and learned a lot. The next call came about running the integration and I didn’t have much experience with integration. And while I thought, should I take on this new role? But in hindsight, I’m so glad I did. Be open and take risks. Satisfaction is the biggest barrier to success. Don’t be comfortable. Be uncomfortable. If you are not comfortable, you are not growing, you are not developing.