Healthcare can occupy up to 25 per cent of GDP and increasing consumers want technology incorporated into their exchanges with healthcare professionals. To gauge the industry and what it means to enterprises, I had a chat with millennial entrepreneur, Raghu Rai, who is at the forefront.

Who is Raghu Rai?

Raghu Rai is an entrepreneur passionate about transforming healthcare. He founded his start-up, Jio Health, while studying as an undergraduate in Biomedical Engineering at the University of California, Irvine. Jio Health is creating a platform that empowers individuals to manage their health, connect with their providers in meaningful ways, and care for the ones they love. In addition to Jio Health, Raghu also advises a few start-ups in Southeast Asia focused on secure messaging and machine learning for the beauty and cosmetics industry.

 To listen to the interview you can go to the ACM Learning Center non-profit podcasts or click on this MP3 file link. In the learning center, there is added text from the interview.

 

Extracts from the full interview:

Ibaraki:
“Describe your college experience and milestones?”

Rai:
“I studied biomedical engineering at the University of California Irvine and got thrust into entrepreneurship during my first quarter of my freshman year. We were working on a project at the time where we were given an insulin pump and tasked with innovating on top of it in some way. The first idea that popped into our heads was to connect the insulin pump to the iPhone and that would allow patients to control their insulin delivery, monitor their blood glucose level and share that information with their care providers, all through mobiles. The professor encouraged us to enter into the campus-wide Business Plan Competition at that point. So really naively I submitted an executive summary and it ended up making it to the second round, at which time we got paired with a local business coach who ended up becoming our first angel investor and helped us craft a more formal business plan that took second place in the competition. One of the great opportunities was him seeing the potential in the concept at the time and to start assembling an advisory board of healthcare contacts and really moving the idea forward. I spent the next two to three years exploring that idea and transitioning in my senior year more towards what Jio Health is today. My entire college experience was defined by building the company and exploring all the possibilities behind it.”

Ibaraki:
“You have expertise in the healthcare industry, can you talk about the research you have done and advisers you work with?”

Rai:
“After we had graduated in about 2010, one of our advisers at the time was a gentleman who had come from the electronic medical record and connectivity field. He had just come off selling his company to a very large technology firm and one of the opportunities he saw was focusing on patient engagement. One of the first research projects that we worked on was with a large hospital in Southern California and we focused on working with hypertensive and type 2 Diabetic employees as part of a court wellness program. The result of that study worked out really well in that it received the 98% of engagement with the prescribed wellness activities, and the real carrot that we provided these patients was a gamified wellness regimen. More recently we started focusing on a more acute healthcare problem which is congestive heart failure. In the United States with the Affordable Care Act one of the most pressing pain points for hospitals is to prevent 30-day emergency room readmission specifically for the diagnosis for congestive heart failure. We had worked with a very large insurance company nationally and a very large IPA (Independent Physicians Association) or physician group here in Southern California to address that problem.”

Ibaraki:
“What are some useful facts or major trends about the healthcare marketplace in North America and globally?”

Rai:
“There’s really three key trends that dominate the healthcare landscape. The first is accountable care as the industry is more focused on demonstrating meaningful outcomes from each of their care interactions, so every healthcare system is now tasked with demonstrating that they have improved the health of their patients. The second is consumerization — if you ask any average American they are probably not aware of what their healthcare costs are or that they even have a choice in selecting their health plan. The third is that the delivery of healthcare is changing, very much like Uber disrupted the transportation model or AirBnB disrupted the real estate and accommodation model. I think there is a ripe opportunity for start-ups to disrupt the delivery stage of healthcare by focusing on digital consultations, at home visits, and e-prescriptions. Everything is going to be digitized in the delivery of healthcare.”

Ibaraki:
“What are the pain points in the industry and for enterprises in the space?”

Rai:
“One of the age-old problems for the enterprise has always been connectivity. They don’t like sharing data between one another. Another challenge that we’ve observed is that you have to scale your care resources to cover a larger population. Lastly, an interesting statistic with regards to consumer brand engagement in healthcare. Healthcare companies are actually performing very poorly in this category. I think the Net Promoter Score (NPS) for most healthcare systems are in the low teens and when you look at some of their consumer counterparts like Amazon or Google, each of those brands is well above the 70s and 80s. So I think there’s a huge opportunity to enhance patient experience, especially as we are preparing for this consumer trend in healthcare.”

Ibaraki:
“Can you explain the meaning of the scoring system NPS?”

Rai:
“The NPS is a Net Promoter Score and it’s used by marketers to determine the stickiness of a brand within the consumer’s mindset.”

Ibaraki:
“Can you go further into the solutions to the pain points?”

Rai:
“What we are focused on here at Jio at the very least is taking some of those persuasive elements of consumer technologies: elegant design, intuitive interfaces, the ability to integrate with wearables, sensors, to poll data ambiently, and the ability to share that data securely through your mobile interface. I think all of those digital touch points deliver healthcare in a context that is familiar to the patient. I think that with the advent of product diseases you really have to focus on giving your patient tools that focus on prevention or management of day-to-day chronic ailments. Those things, though very small steps, add up to a large component of the behavioural healthcare costs that impact the system.”

Ibaraki:
“What will healthcare look like in 2 years, 5 years, 10 years?”

Rai:
“I know that you are a big fan of big data and machine learning, and I think it’s going to completely transform all aspects of healthcare, everything from diagnostics to the delivery of healthcare. Second, I think that primary care is going to completely drift into the cloud, so once where patients used to go in to see their General Practitioner, that entire interaction is going to happen through digital. Last, I think that the consumer trend is going to cause a greater degree of competition within the space which will allow a patient to access health plans that have greater benefits and different benefit styles.”

Ibaraki:
“There is so much attention globally towards many areas including healthcare. Can you share your views on the United Nations and the ITU, and their efforts?”

Rai:
“One of the sustainable development goals for the UN is good health and well-being, and obviously the ITU is focused on connecting the world through the web, so I think those two go hand-in-hand. Our vision is really to be the best way to access healthcare and we’ve even started exploring some opportunities in Southeast Asia with a few hospital systems. I think the great thing about digital healthcare technologies and the UN Sustainable development goals is that those digital technologies facilitate the reach and access of healthcare. I don’t think that there’s been an opportunity like that in the past where you could be in a rural village and be able to access healthcare without having to go through the tremendous pressure and strain to travel or visit more urban areas.”

Ibaraki:
“There are now over 140 ‘unicorns’ (a start-up that has a valuation of over a billion dollars), why do you think this is happening?”

Rai:
“I think it’s because a lot of those companies are targeting the consumer so your market is enormous. Also, it’s about bringing those traditionally offline businesses online. It’s going to be a challenge to keep pace with this rapidly evolving business model, and when start-ups anticipate them and embrace them early on, they’ll leave the traditional industries far, far behind in the dust.”