I am honored to release this interview with Joao Andrade, CEO of WideCells Group. WideCells Group is a worldwide provider of stem cell services headquartered in the UK with the mission to provide people with access to affordable stem cell treatments. In this interview, Joao describes how WideCells aims to revolutionise healthcare through a new stem cell insurance product known as “CellPlan”.
Interview with Joao Andrade of WideCells Group
Cade Hildreth: What is your background and how did you get involved with CellPlan?
Joao Andrade: “I have worked in the stem cell market for many years, and talked with doctors and clients from around the world. I have seen the challenges people go through in this industry and recognised there was a major problem in the cord blood banking market. The problem is that worldwide more than 3 million people have paid on average £2,000 to store their child’s stem cells in over 500 cord blood banks, but most are unaware that a stem cell treatment can cost up to £300,000 and the vast majority will not be able to afford it.
“There was a real need to develop a solution to this problem, so we created CellPlan, the world’s first global stem cell healthcare plan. Our mission is to provide individuals and families access to affordable stem cell treatments globally. Our proposition is simple: we want to help the core blood banking industry solve their problems through innovative insurance and finance solutions.
“I believe we are onto something revolutionary here.”
Cade Hildreth: Could you describe the key features of CellPlan and what principles is it based on?
Joao Andrade: “CellPlan is based on the simple principle that families should have access to affordable stem cell treatment healthcare, but crucially not just any healthcare – we designed CellPlan to be more than just an insurance policy, because we are talking about safeguarding families against life threatening illness, so CellPlan had to be special – the best of the best, giving families ultimate peace of mind and the best possible service and support should they need stem cell treatment.
“With this in mind, we created what we call ‘The Four Pillars of CellPlan’:
• Medical certainty, providing the right diagnosis and the right treatment right when our customers need it;
• Expert consultation, giving our customers access to the best medical minds and the best treatment centres
• Family protection, making our customers secure with stem cell healthcare coverage up to $1,000,000; and
• Global resource, providing our customers with the benefit of care and treatment, worldwide.
“CellPlan is also supported by Best Doctors®, a global leader in expert medical opinion, and also by a community of trusted cord blood banks, who are members of our Excel Global Membership Programme. CellPlan is a truly unique and groundbreaking product, with the potential to revolutionise the stem cell industry.”
Cade Hildreth: Who conceived the concept for CellPlan?
Joao Andrade: “The seed of the idea for CellPlan was planted in my own mind a long time ago. It grew out of a desire to change outcomes for families faced with the challenge of seeking treatment for life threatening illness. The idea grew and took shape, and the concept was born. I worked with Lopes Gil and Dr Peter Hollands, now part of the CellPlan team, to further develop the concept and we worked with the Best Doctors executive team, in particular Frank Ahedo, to build what is now the world’s first global stem cell healthcare plan. The process, from conception to the birth of CellPlan, took more than three years.”
Cade Hildreth: What was involved in creating CellPlan, the world’s first global stem cell healthcare plan?
Joao Andrade: “CellPlan is the product of our passion and hard work, and combines the best medical expertise with an innovative global insurance model. With this in mind, we worked with Best Doctors® and leading reinsurer’s to build an insurance model that would work. It is this infrastructure that underpins CellPlan.
“To get to the point of launch, product development of the highest calibre was required, where attention to detail and sophistication had to be balanced with simplicity.”
Cade Hildreth: What were the difficulties or hurdles in forming it?
Joao Andrade: You don’t create something as incredible as CellPlan without encountering challenges. Fundamentally however, perhaps the greatest challenge was not to lose sight of the reason I had this idea and conviction to create CellPlan – to provide affordable and accessible stem cell treatment for families.
Cade Hildreth: What is the importance of CellPlan to the cord blood banking community?
Joao Andrade: Quite simply, it will unlock the potential of cord blood.
Not only will CellPlan remove the financial barriers that have previously prevented people from accessing life-saving stem cell treatment, it is expected that as more families are able to store stem cells safe in the knowledge that they can afford to use them, further investment into research will be made, with the knock-on effect of expanding the number of illnesses treatable through this technology, which could have a huge effect on the industry as a whole. In the last 13 years the number of illnesses that can be treated through stem cell procedures has rapidly increased by over 300% to 82; if this momentum continues the world of healthcare could arguably be transformed.
Cade Hildreth: What are the benefits of this healthcare coverage to families storing cord blood?
Joao Andrade: Again, the answer is simple, but incredibly powerful – CellPlan will unlock the potential of stem cells. They now have the key to a door that, in many, many situations, was previously locked; inaccessible. CellPlan gives them access to the best medical minds, the best hospitals and clinics and the best stem cell treatment – anywhere in the world.
Cade Hildreth: What are your 3-5 year goals for the CellPlan?
Joao Andrade: Our ambition is to become the undisputed global leader in stem cell treatment healthcare. We are the first of our kind, pioneers in our field and we aim to be around for a long time.
Cade Hildreth: What types of partnerships, collaborations, or investments interest CellPlan (or parent company WideCells Group)?
Joao Andrade: We are interested in developing new insurance models and financial solutions for the stem cell industry and also in any type of research that advances stem cell treatment. Our R&D and teaching division WideAcademy, which is developing stem cell training programmes for healthcare professionals, is interested in partnerships and collaborations with universities, and, of course, CellPlan has already launched a global membership programme for cord blood banks.
Cade Hildreth: When will CellPlan be available?
Joao Andrade: The launch is scheduled for the autumn this year. For more information about CellPlan, please contact João Andrade (e: [email protected]).
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