How To Optimize Clinical Trials with Artificial Intelligence with Wout Brusselaers, CEO at Deep 6 AI
: [00:00:01] Welcome to the Outcomes Rocket podcast where we inspire collaborative thinking, improved outcomes and business success with today's most successful and inspiring healthcare leaders and influencers. And now your host, Saul Marquez
Saul Marquez: [00:00:19] Outcomes Rocket listeners. Welcome back once again to the outcomes rocket while we chat with today's most successful and inspiring healthcare leaders. I thank you for tuning in and I invite you to go to outcomesrocket.health where you could check out today's episode again. You loved it or you could check out our other episodes and leave us a rating and review as well as subscribe. We love hearing from you and can't wait to hear what you think. Without further ado, I have our outstanding guests. His name is Wout Brusselaers. He is the founder and CEO at Deep 6 AI. He's a strategic leader an influential change agent who persistently develops new opportunities to innovate grow and improve efficiency through rigorous analysis out-of-the-box thinking and a hands on operational management. He's done some really interesting things as been mentioned as top 100 most disruptive companies in the world. 2017 as well as won many awards including the accelerator enterprise and smart data category award done a lot. And so what I want to do is open up the microphone for Wout to fill in any of the gaps in the intro. Wout. Welcome to the podcast my friend.
Wout Brusselaers: [00:01:37] Thank you all. Glad to be here.
Saul Marquez: [00:01:39] It's a pleasure to have you. And so I wanted to ask you you know you're at Deep 6 AI. And you were at Health 2.0. We got a chance to learn a little bit more about what you guys were up to what got you into the healthcare side of things to begin with.
Wout Brusselaers: [00:01:55] Good question. And I wish I had a really nice suppy story about like passing away and hugging stuff like that in reality as befits a day tickled pony we were all that were analytical about it. We started our company dealing with the U.S. intelligence community. So we were in a different field altogether dealing with some of the biggest intelligence agencies and some of our clients. There are things going great until a little over a year ago actually almost two years ago no we had a projects and we had an awful lot of projects and then they mentioned to us like you know it's the next step for you guys to do is to hire a retired four star general estimate knocking on doors and you're going to grow fantastically. And so me and my co-founder we looked at each other like hiring a retired four star general becoming like a lobbyist to deal with the government never does just told us that solar companies that we knew that what we had been building was something that had much wider applicability. We were basically using accommodation of various routines to deal with massive amounts of high velocity high variety and high complexity data right to Variety data. Yes we felt there's a lot of opportunity to bring it into healthcare. It was a combination of us not willing to become our governments or shall I say clients or whatever rights are and feeling like we had a tool that had proved itself in arguably the most complex and difficult data environment in the world to deal with right intelligences look at all the data all the time in real time. Right. If they got the true from the false. If we can do that we can probably do something in healthcare as well which is every vertical. So we spoke to a couple of people in healthcare and got some really good feedback built a very early prototype of what we could do based on our platform. And then we applied to the TechStars healthcare accelerator got acceptance and from then we were all in.
Saul Marquez: [00:03:38] That is so cool. And what's interesting. Wout. Thanks for the background in the story about that. You find yourself in these moments and listeners we all find ourselves in these moments where you're faced with making a decision a decision between what you stand for a decision between doing something that you love and doing something that you have to and without. Take us back to that moment and tell us a little bit more about the thought process. The feeling everything that led to you just finally saying this is what we're going to do.
Wout Brusselaers: [00:04:07] I would say the key variable in that decision we're all honestly a couple of shots of vodka.
Saul Marquez: [00:04:15] I love it.
Wout Brusselaers: [00:04:19] I wish I had a better to read a good story before I do these things but that's great me. My co-founder we got this all for like the next level is going to be better called to do this whole thing and both of us kind of stepped out of the slick. I don't feel good about this. Neither do I. Are you going to go back and say yes are we going to go back. I say maybe because Rebecca said no. So we already had to looking at health similar opportunities we had some thoughts about it and we kind of took the garbos Salak dealt to Schultes. Are we sure about this that a lot of shots. Are we sure about this or that we felt like sufficiently inebriated and capacitate it's Do not worry about the consequences and go back and say look this is it.
Saul Marquez: [00:04:55] Oh my goodness. Well you know that's pretty funny. And you just did. You got into the state where you just said OK this deep down inside if we're going to make this happen we're going to make something happen that feels good to us. And oftentimes what I feel like as leaders we spend too much time in our head and those shots of vodka potentially you know there's other ways to get there. That's one way which good for you. And there's other ways to do that as well. And so leaders the message that Wout is giving to us is that you have to make sure that you not only spend time in your head but you spend time in your heart when making big decisions like that. Would you say sum that up while, Wout.
Wout Brusselaers: [00:05:33] Yeah absolutely. I think you have to trust your gut to some extent right. And you have to be willing to come to a place where you can kind of balance the strategic with the opportunistic and sometimes you feel like you know what this is a great opportunity but strategically it doesn't really fit in the long term plan it doesn't make me feel good. And so you say no two things sometimes. The other thing like I said you know this is not exactly our strategy but the opportunity is great and I can still see how eventually it'll fold into our strategy. And then you can say yes two things but it's kind of having that broad framework that's is flexible and dynamic but it's kind of a compass. And like you said there's a moral component. There is a strategic approach. There's a lot of things that go into it.
Saul Marquez: [00:06:08] Yeah for sure. Not awesome. I appreciate that and appreciate the candid answer. What would you say. So today you know you guys how many years have you been in healthcare now. We're not second year second year so in the two years that you've spent in healthcare what would you say. The one thing as it relates to AI are anything that you feel in general healthcare leaders need to be thinking about.
Wout Brusselaers: [00:06:31] There's a lot of a lot of insights or thoughts I've been thinking about that a lot. The one thing that is honestly the most appropriate to us and to some extent Selsor because it's a business that we are running right so I'm going to focus on that is I believe that C-level or V.P level executives in healthcare should really think about how to optimize clinical trial and clinical research as a C-level opportunity for a hospital. And what I mean by that is that if you are leading a large healthcare organization today right you are taking care of patients you're doing Population Health to do so many things you should understand that one of the big is one of the big tools you have is to use your patient database and your talent on site to further clinical research. The reasons why right as well it is a great revenue opportunity with fee for service coming under pressure right you can no longer make more money by prescribing more MRI's or CTE scans. Yes you are going to either cut down or find other ways to monetize your knowhow and research is probably one of the best ways there too. Every time that you engage in research every trial that you conduct on your sides is an opportunity for your patients get access to cutting edge care. So you're opening up the door for drugs or treatments that are only available to your patients. Right. And it will probably take it over five to 10 years before going to be all the markets but that have oftentimes proven in earlier phase trials like Phase 1 and 2 that they are better than many older commercial drugs out there today and that's specifically through pharmacology drugs. There's about 800 oncology drugs that are now at various stages of trials that have been shown to her better than commercially available drugs. But the only excess you can give to patients for whom this could be life or death decision right is yet to local trials. So again you have the military capacity or aspect of this. You have the patient outcomes engagement's unsatisfaction. And then thirdly an organization that does a lot of clinical trials opens itself up to cutting edge thinking about what is the next wave of treatments right. How can we think more how can we learn more from what we do everyday. It allows you to build institutional knowledge base and basically disseminate all this thinking from the frontier of medicine. And it allows you to attract talent that is interested in that and is forward leading. I just feel like if you combine all of that it should be a no brainer for sure. Resealable executive spent more time thinking about how you can leverage your site to do more clinical research.
Saul Marquez: [00:08:45] That is a really interesting thought and as we approach the new age of healthcare it's important that the listeners you know if you are a an executive at a hospital you think about out of the box things to create new revenue streams especially when we've got this value for service coming instead of fee for service. Wout. What would you say right now the percentage of hospitals actually taking advantage of this type of leverage.
Wout Brusselaers: [00:09:12] Today it's mostly the academic medical centers right that are big on research because it's basically in their cultural DNA which is so about 10 percent I'd say roughly 600 are doing a lot of research. But if you look at the numbers in recent years where you see the biggest growth in bringing new trials and of course the benefit from the law of small numbers right. If you have zero trust to start with if you add one or two it's a great percentage wise increase but if you look at that there's a lot of growth in smaller hospitals and clinics in either community hospitals that realize that they have access to patients to a demographic of patients that typically don't frequents academic medical centers. If you think about Ali you have Cedar Sinai. A very well-known and very prestigious accounting center. But most of the patients that gold are fairly or a certain demographic are fairly well-off they can afford to go there or their insurance can't afford to send them there. There are so many older patients of an interesting background who get to afford to go to Hugel to community hospitals but they are typically the patients that the pharma companies are thinking about the most. A lot of basically long term diseases right the lifestyle diseases just cardiovascular visas are typically frequenting these populations more than the more affluent patients at the AMCs.
Saul Marquez: [00:10:24] Yeah that's very fascinating. A unique idea for share and appreciate you sharing that I think it's very unique. Haven't heard that one on the on the show before you know we typically run into things like population how are chronic disease management or you know the usual suspects. But this is definitely an out-of-the-box thoughts. Appreciate you mentioning that.
Wout Brusselaers: [00:10:45] Thank you. I would call it like democratizing access to clinical trials right. Opening it up to some of the underrepresented populations and demographics because those are the people who want to sell to eventually. And if you can actually do trials of your drugs will only get better.
Saul Marquez: [00:10:57] Totally totally. Yeah because the base sample of people that you're trying them onto is also very right. You can measure for different effects on different people.
Wout Brusselaers: [00:11:07] Absolutely and that is the basic premise of precision medicine right. You're going to get really into the specific patient and if you kind of represented patients when you're testing or building those new treatments you're never going to be all together.
Saul Marquez: [00:11:17] Totally, hey Wout. Give us an example of how your company and you and your and what you guys are doing have created improved outcomes.
Wout Brusselaers: [00:11:25] So it depends on your definition of outcomes in what we do which is basically applying artificial intelligence to a wide variety of clinical data right to find and match patients clinical trials much faster an outcome that we measure is how many patients can you find for trials and Holland as a ticket to find us patients. If you have a target say for a trial and I'm going to use a real life case right now that we did at executer Sinai we had a principal investigator API who was doing a study for a biomarker for non small cell lung cancer. She had spent 12 months to find 23 patients for her trial so she could test whether by working groups publish the results and try to commercialize this which which is a great step forward. So after 12 months she only had 23 patients where we met with her the very first time she shared her inclusion and exclusion criteria. What do these patients need to have and general to have for them to be of them to a trial. She shared those with us. Eight minutes later we had entered them in our software we had run our program against clinical data of the patient database that we did just had we had found 58 matching patients for a trial including the 23 the jury recruited beforehand. So we literally took an effort that had taken over many many bolds dealt to a couple of minutes.
Saul Marquez: [00:12:37] That's impressive. And after validating the patients everybody met the mark they were qualified yes.
Wout Brusselaers: [00:12:44] Of the 50 yes. Basically what we did is we were told more than 58 we probably had somewhere in the 80s or something. And as you went through them our software what it does is it takes a first step at algorithmically matching patients to trials. So say look this is what the right things should be about. And then we give you a tool to basically have a human user validated. So it's a synergistic or a Sentara approach. You you the machine intelligence directs to go to the best results.
Saul Marquez: [00:13:09] Very cool. I love that. That is a result that is an outcome. And So yeah that's really interesting. And so again I go back to provider leaders if you're thinking about going this route it just makes so much sense to if you don't have the expertise and the ear wanting that break in is something new. Why not partner with a company like Wout, to help you get there faster and more efficiently. That's a really cool cool thought. Can you give us an example of a time when you've had a setback or a failure and what you learned from that.
Wout Brusselaers: [00:13:43] Today are going to be longer than that.
Saul Marquez: [00:13:45] Yeah it could have. Yeah I'm kidding. Yeah exactly.
Wout Brusselaers: [00:13:50] Well if you're in a startup it's a rollercoaster ride right. Yes. Up and down. And you're always chasing your next high your next success. So there's always something we do extensive postmortems and we do extensive what I call like a b testing what works what doesn't work. One of the early things that did work is what we wanted to do originally going to market was using our platform which is basically that using a clinical data to find patients and learn more about patients much faster right. Our original purpose had been to build a platform that uses that for political decision support. So what we were going to do is basically say we use our software to build a patient's graph. Every patient data that we see we take all of the data from different sources that EMR pathology reports Juber registry's devices basically anything we can get our hands on. We dig we unified it into a graph. So patient becomes like an adult dimensional vector with all the symptoms diseases outcomes treatments genomics by which all the data points on there. Once you have a patient represented as a grass right you can search and match that and compare that to other patients. So all the data that you have about a patient becomes analyzable whereas today most of the data is in documents it's in written notes and traditional stroke and I'll deal with that right. So we felt like we had a very powerful platform that we were looking for the right use case. And we thought once you represent the patient as a graph you can go to your doctor a lot like Hey so based on the graph that I have of you there are over 5000 patients that look almost the same as you do on the dimensions that are really important the symptoms that brought you into the basal those that are 5 missions over the last a year or something that's that's physicians like me have seen these were the diagnosis that were there. These were the outcomes right, or the treatments that were prescribed for a diagnosis these were the outcome so they can have a very statistical approach to how do other patients respond to things very similar to you. We felt like it was almost like a crystal ball where you can see your own future. So six months from now I can expect this if I take this treatment or that if I take a lot of treatments we thought that was brilliant which goes to show that we didn't know that much about healthcare. Because when we started talking to a lot of physicians and executives at the healthcare organization said look you know that's great but that's science fiction that's going to take too long to validate if you're a startup you don't have the time to play around with this takes you 18 months to sell to an organization and you probably will run out of cash before you do that. So a major pivot for us was to move from local decision support and land on something that had a much shorter sale cycle is still very effective and high for an organization which is a clinical trials matching.
Saul Marquez: [00:16:15] Beautiful man that's so great. And I love that you guys are just very serious very very tuned in to what's needed. And you know what I find Wout is an entrepreneur side of things. It's that tenacity to be able to to say all right this is not working this sale cycles way too long. They are why is not there for the organization. I got to pivot and a lot of people get stuck there. What advice would you give to the entrepreneurs listening to this looking to make an impact in healthcare to make a shift like you guys did.
Wout Brusselaers: [00:16:47] Well there's a couple of things going into that. One thing is you cannot afford to fail right. If you want to fulfill very fast so you can move on in startups right. The typical thing people say time is money for startups is the opposite. Money is time. You only have a limited amount of dollars and that only buys you short amount of time so you can feed the team. Basically if you do all that you only have that amount of time you know that you have to hit certain milestones before you get run out of money which means you have to learn to sell and other things. Thinking back from that right if by X I'm going to run out of money which means I have to do a sale by way and that means buy sell psycho's this year. Basically you have to be ruthless about selecting the options that are going to work. You have to be facing reality. Is this working. It's not working. Am I losing time. What I basically tell our team now is the cult of daily accountability is what I'm doing today going in the right direction. If it's not working right and sometimes it takes a while it takes two to three weeks or more before you know everydays to measure some kind of progress. Yes and if you started to see that evidence is accumulating that's pointed to the wrong direction right are saying this is not working. Don't hesitate to pull the plug and try something else.
Saul Marquez: [00:17:50] That is on point. Wout. And so listeners are an entrepreneur take that to heart. You got to be very tuned in. You got to be ruthless you've got to be in tune with the timelines and be sure to deliver on those timelines and if you get negative feedback fail fast and make it happen. Great words of wisdom there wow. Thanks for sharing that. A little bit on every of the listeners here on the outcomes rocket says pretty pretty great. Appreciate you doing that. Tell us a little bit more about a proud moment that you've had so you walked to one of the setbacks. Tell us about a proud leadership moment in medicine for you.
Wout Brusselaers: [00:18:28] There are quite a few. Luckily because we have a strong team and I feel like I can take pride in their accomplishments which means I don't have to do much myself. One of the problems we had was at South by Southwest last year when one we won the enterprise data world which was great. We were basically we met with Vice President Joe Biden which would not be an experience that was beyond my expectations. I tend to be a bit of a cynic and think like oh yeah fine we'll be doing Joe Biden whatever but when you actually meet a guy and he talks passionately about what he stands for in the moonshot effort to cure cancer I want to be super impressed. So there was all of that but I'm probably the most important moment was when I got off a stage at South by Southwest where I was talking about or connect one cancer which was one of the events and I had actually a cancer survivor who just came up to me and told me like I love what you're doing what you are doing really makes a difference for people like me. And this was a highly educated very very impressive woman who was a stage 3 cancer survivor. Her husband wasn't oncologist she was highly informed that everything which she told me I am trying to get into clinical trial because I know that is the way for me to beat cancer. And what I do today is I go to websites where I type in my type of cancer that I have with even simple genetic information. That's what I get back in terms of matching trials. I got a hundred and forty trials that I might be eligible for. Which means that I have to sift through a hundred and forty trials which means in many cases they sent me to a website were asked to take a survey or asked to be on a phone call or actually have to go and meet with a trust coordinator and then they start deciding whether I'm eligible adults sort of takes me many many months to each adult and then differently. We get all the roads in distress because of this with our software tree or fourplex you will know in minutes whether you're eligible for trial or not which for these people saves you so much time and allows you to focus where your time is spent. That was really troubled when she'd basically validated our idea that this would make a difference. Until then it was a business right and it's really for us like we were doing this. To make this. But when you meet a person legs we were completely blown away.
Saul Marquez: [00:20:30] Yeah yeah it just gives it that much more meaning and validation that it's actually on point with what the market needs.
Wout Brusselaers: [00:20:37] Absolutely. And also with what. What can be really be a life or death situation for individual person which is incredible in a way. I mean if you're a physician probably use it every day you can make a difference in a person's life. If you're a startup it's a privilege to be able to do that. Totally. And to me it's a great motivation for the entire team. I mean everybody was was when I mentioned at oyer and right away I spoke about this first of all we also won the award. We met with US President Joe Biden but that was like to listen to that. It was all about this person we met where he said You guys are making a difference for us.
Saul Marquez: [00:21:08] Yeah that's highly impactful highly impactful and that's awesome man. Congratulations on that. On that whole that was a great day wasn't it.
Wout Brusselaers: [00:21:16] It was amazing. It's hard. If that's such a step it's like how are you going to stop that. Like I mean I got a lot of work to do now actually. Wow.
Saul Marquez: [00:21:26] Tell us a little bit more about a project that you're focused on today.
Wout Brusselaers: [00:21:30] We have a lot of different projects that we're doing. There are what I called the research projects and the technology projects. There are more like the use case projects one of the things that we're trying to do right now is to basically create a let's call it a marketplace right which is a public platform where all the stakeholders in clinical trials which means hospitals that are sites that conduct trials. Sponsors are pharma companies medical device companies that are running the trials right CROI which are facilitators under subcritical trials but also patients really build a platform and all of those interact where they can basically find out about trials or find out about sites or find out about sponsors or about patients so they can all share their data. And that's a big stumbling block of mismatching patients the trials and spending many months to do that matchmaking we will to make sure that becomes completely effortless and it happens in minutes or a matter of days. Will that really crush that whole timeline by bringing everybody on the same platform.
Saul Marquez: [00:22:25] That is awesome man. That is really interesting and I'm definitely going to be tuning into the things that you guys are up to because that's awesome. And listeners here and after the lightning round with the syllabus that we're going to do you're going to be able to wow is going to share whereas Web site is best placed to follow what they're doing. So Wout, we're here getting to the end. So appreciate your working with us to keep this super interesting. Right now we're going to do is I have four questions for you. Lightning round style. We're going to build a syllabus and what it takes to be successful in medicine. It's the 101 or the ABC of Wout Brusselaers. And so what. I've got four questions for you. First one is here. What's the best way to improve health care outcomes.
Wout Brusselaers: [00:23:10] Looking at data. One of the big issues that you have today is that there is no big data on healthcare. You have massive amounts of little data that are all locked and fragmented the individual files one of the reasons why they are locked and fragmented is because most of the data is unstructured and it has VHI and they're using. You can weed out the VHI you can bring all that data together. And like I said before every time you treat one patient you can learn from millions of other patients have gone through the same thing. I think that is going to be a game changer.
Saul Marquez: [00:23:37] What is the biggest mistake or pitfall to avoid.
Wout Brusselaers: [00:23:40] In general I think being complacent thinking that's the way the things are happening today is the way to should be.
Saul Marquez: [00:23:46] How do you stay relevant as an organization. Despite constant change allowing yourself to change as well. Finally what's one area of focus that should drive everything else in your company.
Wout Brusselaers: [00:23:55] Good question. It's hard to boil it down to one thing because I'm thinking it's a metric for us in a way. It's user growth. I feel like if we are convincing our users if we find people are signing up and are buying into what we're doing and are growing we must be doing something right. All the other feel all the other things fall into place if we get that right.
Saul Marquez: [00:24:15] Love it man. Beautiful. What book would you recommend to the listeners. Wout
Wout Brusselaers: [00:24:18] That's a hard sell because I change my favorite book almost every week.
Saul Marquez: [00:24:23] Give us that week's book.
Wout Brusselaers: [00:24:25] This book a book as I've been incredibly impressed with have actually is a book called a second hand time by a Russian alter called Svetlana Alexievich she won the Nobel Prize in Literature years ago and what she has basically done for years she has been chronicling the daily reactions of people or of all those generations of people as they transition from communism to today's hyper capitalism in Russia. And you really see the old line of people that were completely sold on one idea and one ideal of a society and how they felt betrayed by that or in some cases validated by that and how they had to deal with change. It's really interesting on a personal level but also as a startup it talks about change and chasing her ideas as a human and at the most macro level. She calls herself a chronicler of the soul which is kind of what exaggeration. It's a very intelligent and very in-depth analysis of just human beings and everything I think it's an amazing book.
Saul Marquez: [00:25:20] Love it. What a great recommendation. And so listeners don't worry about writing any of this down go to outcomesrocket.health/wout that's w o u t like Shout and you'll be able to find all of the show notes as well as a link to this book. A link to his company and all of the amazing things that we've talked about about where here to the end. If you can just share a closing thought with the listeners and the best place where they can get a hold of you.
Wout Brusselaers: [00:25:48] Well first of all thank you for listening. If anybody is listening apart from the two of us I hope they will. They are with me. That's awesome. Please seek us out right. Please come and see if we're making good on our promises of what was already given to our users. Go to www.deep6.ai full of us subscribe to our newsletter and keep motivating us. We are able to witness today. We are all in the same boat we're all trying to get more better healthcare to people faster. It's a daily struggle and we're blessed to be able to contribute our thing to it.
Saul Marquez: [00:26:22] And what's the best place they could get a hold of you or follow you.
Wout Brusselaers: [00:26:25] Probably our website. We have a newsletter on their feet under it kind of lists everything.
Saul Marquez: [00:26:30] All are wonderful so listeners they have it sign up to their website. Get those updates. These guys are really thought leaders in what they're doing. So wow. I just want to say thank you once again and looking forward to keeping up on the progress that you guys make.
Wout Brusselaers: [00:26:44] Thank you and thanks for hosting us here.
: [00:26:50] Thanks for listening to the Outcomes Rocket podcast. Be sure to visit us on the web at www.outcomesrocket.health for the show notes, resources, inspiration and so much more.
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