Inside the Boiler Room: Disrupting Barriers to Health Information

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Medivizor International Ltd.

Improving health outcomes by delivering personalized, accessible and timely medical information curated from thousands of scientific journals and clinical trials.

Tal Givoly is disrupting the mobile health industry and how patients and caregivers use the internet. Why? He has a better way where medical information is personalized, updated, understandable, and most importantly, actionable for patients and their caregivers.

Givoly saw this need up close when he was looking for information to help save his daughter from congestive heart failure. His New York City-based startup, Medivizor, spares the patient hours of fruitless internet searches and enables healthcare providers to involve patients in managing their health in an effective way that serves both patient and doctor.

Givoly, the CEO and co-founder of Medivizor, has more than 25 years of technology and software development experience, including management positions in R&D and product management, with 25 patents to his credit. Named by Forbes as one of “six companies that are re-imagining existing tech trends,” Medivizor has taken first-place in numerous competitions, including 1776 Challenge Cup in Tel Aviv, Most Investable Startup at Interface Digital Health Summit in Vancouver, Doctors 2.0 & You in Paris, and mHealth Israel Conference.

HR Avant-Garde spoke with Givoly in May 2015:

What are you disrupting?

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Tal Givoly

One size fits all depersonalized, overwhelming, redundant and unreliable internet searches relating to medical information.

What problem are you trying to solve?

Most intelligence failures are not related to a lack of data points, but stem from an overabundance of data points that hamper timely analysis. In parallel, when patients receive a distressing diagnosis, they access the internet searching for information. Unfortunately for the layperson, there is an overabundance of information of varying quality and usefulness. Even on websites that are medically specific, the information provided is generic and not tailored to the patient’s unique medical profile. Additionally, the latest scientific developments are first published in medical journals and not yet distilled into more accessible language. And with our product, as science evolves around specific medical conditions, our customers  receive timely updates.

Who wins with this disruption?

The patient wins. Currently there is an unequal distribution of information between doctor and patent. Patients have tried to recalibrate this balance by using popular search engines to access medical information inherit with all the constraints previously mentioned. With Medivizor, patients obtain information that is accessible, non-repetitive, reliable and tailored to their individual medical profile.

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Doctors win because an educated patient is served more efficiently. Doctors can spend more time actually treating patients and discussing realistic options and less time addressing questions provoked by chronic web searches. Also, Medivizor provides information to doctors, who cannot conceivably have enough time to stay abreast of all the latest developments given that there are thousands of new research papers published annually.

What skills are most essential to your firm’s success, yet in limited supply?

Realizing this vision requires skills in diverse domains, and we’re glad to possess them. My partner, who I know from elementary school, Oren Fuerst, has a solid business background after being on the faculty of Columbia and Yale and starting five med-tech companies, including pioneering companies such as Prepex. My other partner, Prof. Steven Kaplan, MD, is a leading researcher and physician who serves as Chief of the Male Health Clinic at Weill Cornell Medical College. He’s also an entrepreneur, having been a founder of MediData Solutions (MDSO). My background is in leading invention, product development, and innovation. Together, we combine all these skills and experience to potentially help millions of people coping with serious or chronic illness.

Technology has barely been applied to health. The flurry of innovation we’re seeing now is barely scratching the surface. Digital health requires both perseverance and extreme entrepreneurship to bring and extract value.

unnamedProcessing vast amounts of new information, figuring out what is of potential clinical relevance to each individual, and explaining it to them in a way they can understand and act, is not only difficult, but has yet to be done. We are fixing that.

Right now, the service is only in English and covers a limited number of medical conditions. As we grow, we will expand our offerings. We continue to seek software developers to improve our algorithm, medical linguists to increase market breath to reach non-English speaking people, and an increasing array of doctors specializing in more diseases to help people suffering across a broader spectrum of conditions.

Are you still looking for venture capital?

We’ve already raised $1.2M, and we are now in the midst of closing a financing round that should give us the runway we need to succeed.

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Givoly’s pitch won the health category at 1776 Challenge Cup in Tel Aviv. (Photo: Daniel Swartz)

What is your VC pitch?

Following a diagnosis, a patient becomes a chronic web crawler, searching the web for medical information about their condition. They can’t verify what information is trustworthy or current while the lines between informational websites and those selling a product are intentionally blurred.

Patients are even less sure of what’s medically relevant to them. Further research is often repetitious or confronts patients with their own knowledge barriers, since new research is published in medical journals by scientists for scientists.

Medivizor fixes this problem by providing state of the art science for YOU followed by updates as science evolves. All this in 10th grade English explained and interpreted in a way that makes it accessible to the layperson.

Our algorithm uses mini-medical profiles to select from thousands of clinical reports and then summarizes the information most relevant to the patient or caregiver. You don’t have to search; we provide the information directly to your inbox. Our unique selling proposition is that Medivizor is the only company that provides any one of these services, let alone all of them.

What is the biggest risk to your firm’s success?

With an aging population and people living longer with treatable chronic diseases, our market is rapidly growing. With internet access rising exponentially in developing countries, the number of customers able to access our services is growing as well. Patients have responded to higher health care costs by proactively managing their health. Consequently, if there are any risks, it would be for our company not to grow at a rate that meets demand for our services.

What Key intellectual property has the company developed?

We have a patent pending for our personalization technology that provides summaries of complex medical information accessible to the layperson combined with the wisdom of the crowd. Also, we continue to grow a vast library of cutting-edge medical content written so that patients and caregivers can understand the latest science.Introducing-Medivizor-Visual

What metric best captures your firm’s success?

The number of Medivizor subscribers best measures our business success, while the number of improved health outcomes for our customers best captures how Medivizor positively impacts society.

What entrepreneur do you admire?

Steve Jobs is one of my idols. Larger than life, in fact. However, at Medivizor, our innovation is very different. The world is different today and not every company has the ability to do what Apple could. We are solving a big problem and intend to solve related problems that bring additional value to our patients and stakeholders.

Jeff Bezos created and continues to lead a great company and made many strategic moves that I admire. Amazon took risks that might have cannibalized its own revenue.

Tell us about a customer who was impacted by your product?

In one sense, we are in the anxiety reduction business. I would say all of our customers are directly impacted by the service we provide in triaging what they need to know in a digestible manner to improve their health outcomes. Confidentiality precludes specific examples, but the stories are as abundant as the number of our subscribers. We do get thank you letters often from our subscribers. People explicitly tell us of the value the information provides. Here’s video of one of our subscribers explaining her perspective.

There is a large institutional impact as well. Hospitals are promoting Medivizor to their patients to efficiently provide cutting-edge, personalized health information. We help hospitals serve their patients better, quicker and for less cost.

What does transformational innovation of your product look like years from now?

The Internet of Things is poised to become pervasive and the number of people being connected to their smartphones soon will be augmented by smartwatches. People have access to a plethora of personalized health data points, monitoring their wellness in real time. I can envision when those captured data points talk directly to Medivizor to deliver information to patients that they need, before they have even made the request. Also, as we see precision and personalized medicine evolve, the first step we are taking in this revolution is further personalizing the health information we provide to patients and their medical teams.

Everyone is afraid of something, loves something and regrets something. Your turn!

I’m afraid of not being able to execute fast enough and effectively enough to realize our vision. We have a lot to do and so much to cover.  We plan to grow in both depth and breath this year.

I love my family and the support of the many in the growing Medivizor team, supporters, and partners that are making our vision a reality.

In terms of regret – I don’t look back often with regret. Sometimes one needs to make tough decisions and live with them. If I make mistakes, I try to avoid repeating them. I believe that people and organizations that don’t learn are doomed in the long run.

If you wore a warning label, what would it say?

Nobody cares about your health as much as you or your caregivers. Stay informed.

Vincent Suppa can be reached at suppa@suppa.org.
Ross Brand can be reached at ross.brandx@gmail.com.

© 2015 Vincent Suppa and Ross Brand