Empowering Doctor Patient Interactions to Improve Outcomes with Neel Mehta, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at EpiFinder

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Empowering Doctor Patient Interactions to Improve Outcomes with Neel Metha, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at EpiFinder

Empowering Doctor Patient Interactions to Improve Outcomes with Neel Metha, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at EpiFinder

Hey Outcomes Rocket friends, thanks for tuning in to the podcast once again. As a leader in health care, you have big ideas great products, a story to tell, and are looking for ways to improve your reach and scale your business. However there's one tiny problem. Health care is tough to navigate and the typical sales cycle is low. That's why you should consider starting your own podcast as part of your sales and marketing strategy. At the Outcomes Rocket, I've been able to reach thousands of people every single month that I wouldn't have otherwise been able to reach if I had not started my podcast. Having this organic reach enables me to get the feedback necessary to create a podcast that delivers value that you are looking for. And the same thing goes if you start a podcast for what you could learn from your customers. The best thing about podcasting in healthcare is that we are currently at the ground level, meaning that the number of people in healthcare listening to podcasts is small but growing rapidly. I put together a free checklist for you to check out the steps on what it takes to create your own podcast. You could find that at outcomesrocket.health/podcast. Check it out today and find a new way to leverage the sales, marketing and outcomes of your business. That's outcomesrocket.health/podcast.

Welcome back once again to the Outcomes Rocket podcast where we chat with today's most successful and inspiring healthcare leaders. Today I have the phenomenal Neel Mehta. He's the Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at EpiFinder Incorporated. EpiFinder is a healthcare software solutions and neuro spectrum differentiator differentiation company. It empowers doctor-patient interaction which we all know is very important to outcomes and provides a robust proprietary platform where it encourages patients to take ownership of their health through the Patient Portal. It provides the doctor a clinical decision support tool and bridges the communication gap through engagement and analytics. Neel is an empathy-driven Healthcare Futurist, Multifaceted Entrepreneur and Biomedical Informaticist with over seven years of experience in Digital Health, Leadership, and Healthcare Innovation. He loves to travel, he loves to hike, do yoga in the leisure time and he is an enormously dedicated individual on healthcare. So it's with that introduction that I welcome Neel to the podcast. Welcome.

Hi Saul, thank you for having me.

It's an absolute pleasure Neel. Now is there anything that I left out in that introduction that you want the listeners to know about you?

Wow that pretty much sums up a quick intro about who I am and what I have done to date. I just love healthcare and so thank you and I'm excited to continue our discussion.

Absolutely. Me too man. So as we take a look at the things that you guys are up to patient portals we're in this digital age where patients are now more empowered. We've got this divide of patients of hey you know some are millennials while others are medicare patients so we're dealing with very different populations. It's gonna be interesting to dive into some of the insights that you and your team have come up within this realm. But before we do Neal, what is it that got you into the medical sector to begin with?

Well that's a good question. I would say that I'm originally from India,grew up there, studied in London and also in Australia in Sydney and then eventually came to Arizona to pursue my higher education in Biomedical Informatics. So since that time I grew up my parents, my mom and dad always wanted me to become a doctor and I didn't want to. So...

Oh boy.

Yes.

You're a rebel you're a rebel.

So since I did my undergrad in bioinformatics since then the next logical step for me was to do something in my higher education especially in my graduate education to do something that I can connect to with the healthcare system, the medicine. And I decided to pursue biomedical informatics. So that got my mom and dad happy because the healthcare and I work and sit with the doctors and that got me happy because I wanted to do fundamental and applied science along with focusing on engineering and the innovation aspect in technology.

That is so interesting and Neel so you're applying your talents in this biomedical informatics field to improve patient outcomes. You've been at it for a while. What would you say today is a hot topic that needs to be on every medical leaders agenda and how are you guys applying that at EpiFinder?

So that's a great question Saul there a lot of hot topic out there and it all depends on which perspective of which angle each individual is facing that topic on a day to day basis. But for us it's all about access to the rewarding care to the patients, and from their home all the way to the end up in the emergency department to the intensive care unit to being in the hospital and so access to care is predominantly much more effective in U.S. of course we have issues but at the same time if you look globally there a lot of challenges when it comes to that meaning in the second world and the third world nations where the individuals have and don't have access to care to even see their family care doctor and the wait is so long that sometimes you have to wait up to two to six months. So I would say the way of our organization at EpiFinder behind the other poaching is that we have the rewarding digital health platform solutions to connectivity interaction between a patient and a doctor. So our entire goal is to empower doctor patient interaction while providing the tool which helps them to do that. So on the healthcare professionals side, we have a clinical decision support to have doctors to go through that process with the patients to identify a particular type of epilepsy syndrome based on the patients symptomatic information and the way the doctor receives those information is from the patient portal. So a patient gets the ownership of the health by using that tool and they are able to go to their day to day incidents or events or anything which they want to mention or take a note off and send it to the doctor before their visit. So now what it empowers the patient is to be what we call like that they are not anxious, they are not agitated, they are not like nervous to meet with the doctor because they have shared all of that information to the doctor before the visit. And for the doctor as they are always running out of time, they are seeing a lot of patients every day, now they have that information prior before they go and see the patient in the examination room or in the hospital unit. So this is where through the use of technology we are bringing back the human to human interactions which a lot of patients complains about.

Yeah that's a really great topic there and how we use technology to get that done. It sounds like you guys are focused in on epilepsy as a core area. How did you guys decide on that being the focus?

Yes the way we got into the world of epilepsy is really kind of the universal choice and the law in a way where my co-founder whose name is Robert Yao, he was misdiagnosed and bedridden when he was a medical student back in Chicago. And long story short, he ended up starting this huge need in Biomedical Informatics at Arizona State University and that's where he and I met and sat at EpiFinder and the way what he believed was a complex and difficult to diagnose conditions were actually built an algorithm to identify and help doctors to judge those patients and solve any present or the solution to a team of faculty and doctors here at the University. Two of the epileplogists are from Children's Hospital and Mayo Clinic said, "hey Robert you should focus on working towards building this algorithms for epilepsy, because there are 3.4 million people in US who have epilepsy, 65 million people worldwide and one in 26 Americans will have epilepsy at any given point in their lifetime." And what happens is that about get a 40% of the patients either go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed when they see the doctor for the very first time during the first visit. So the challenge is life is huge and it cost the U.S. healthcare system 15.5 billion dollars a year. On average, a patient is diagnosed or get a light medication after being in the healthcare system for about 7 to 10 years. So it's very challenging, it's very frustrating. And the reason behind all of this complication is not that doctors cannot identify epilepsy. They can, but there are 62 different types of epilepsy syndromes and seizures. So what happens is most of the time the diagnosis is this one epilepsy and it wasn't one particular type of medication but after two months you identify oh wait a minute he might have this type of epilepsy or this type of condition. And so it's like a lot of back and forth until you are able to identify that. So what doctors told Robert that night is that if you didn't build an app,a tool which they can use that in their hands while they see a patient in a while get on rotation. So in the clinic it will be very helpful for them to include the patients clinical signs and symptoms. And it should pop up that differential diagnosis for the patient. So we teamed up together, built a team and in nine months we were able to do that. So when we showed that to those doctors the only one word which came out of the mouth was "wow, this is phenomenal." Why it took them over 10 years to identify standardize and why a unique family of care we are able to do it so...

That's awesome.

That by the child's epilepsy.

Very cool. Very cool very clear to why you guys decided to do that. So now you've got a product. Have you released it in the U.S. or are you guys mainly working internationally?

That's a great question. So any time you build that digital health solution you have to go to at least two or three clinical studies. They are not clinical trials per se but there are studies to validate the effectiveness, the accuracy, the sensitivity and, the specificity of a tool. So we conducted the very first pilot Mayo Clinic study last year and here it's been or not their power tool was used in compare them to the gold standard which is out there today it's called EEG and adoptive to fathers is they are not always truly able to screen that patient even before they go into the epilepsy monitoring unit and they get that e.g. Sondakh. So when the digitals came out it was 86.8% accurate. So that's a massive shift compared to the current 60% which is out there. So now we see that every tool improves the clinical lead up diagnosis by over 25%. So that was really was initial study. So now we have undertaken two more clinical studies. One here in Phoenix with Phoenix Children's Hospital and another one with Boston Children's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. And to really prove a tool that it can be applicable in any hospitals or any clinical setting whatsoever, once we complete this three studies, once we go to the regulation aspect in terms of making sure everything is in compliance and also making sure that we need all the chapters, then we'll launch it here in U.S. In the meantime are looking for opportunities to have this tool applicable and available especially in the Asia market in India and China.

Excellent. Now that's really great to know and and for those of you listening to the podcast today and you're in the process of figuring out your path to approval just know that you know it takes time but you've got to stay committed to your solution and see it through. It sounds like Neel and his team are very focused on that. Around the corner will be the time when they get it out there. But in the meantime it's showing upwards of 25% improvement in the diagnosis and appropriate addressing of epilepsy. So kudos to you and your team Neel for coming up with this great solution.

Thank you so much. And yes I agree with you. It takes a long time to bring a solution especially in healthcare out in the market because this is not a gaming solution which is not just a quit app. This is yet dealing with people's lives. So anything which is used, we want to make sure that we are doing no harm. And if you are doing something, it's upwards, and it's towards the benefit, towards improving patient outcomes.

Love it. Yeah absolutely Neel. And so can you give an example of a time during that process where you had a setback, may a setback that almost made you want to stop. What did you learn from that setback that you could share with the listeners?

Sure I mean there are plenty but one of the big ones which comes to mind is that we talk that Sessions helps the professionals will be a cakewalk after Mayo Clinic Study. But we realize that they have a great respect for that individual expertise. But what happens is that it varies across the board so others go and mount the other two will mean you've got the health deficiency as to the uniformity of care to patients. What we are doing is we are standardizing the beds the patients symptoms says collected we are sanitizing of the algorithm is working we are sending have the patient-doctor interaction takes place. So by doing that, our goal is to overcome the difficulty in adoption and we want to make sure that doctors love the use of a tool that we are not disrupting the workflow. But other than that we are supporting that existing workflow and providing a guided solution so that they feel more confident they feel at ease when they are using it in front of the patients that a lot of things we see in the news, we see it in day to day discussions and annualizations that yes we wanted to be the next great idea which disrupts the healthcare. But what I see is that it's not about the disruption rather than it's about existing, rather than it's about helping the use of rewarding better support solutions to the existing workflow. Because if you clear disruption if you want to replace doctors if you want to take away one of the processes which are out there. You're not making friends rather you are creating a way that, you're creating a lot of discomforts in the ecosystem.

That's a great call out and we are dealing with a healthcare system that has interests and ways of doing things and so the question is do you want to disrupt or do you want to make micro changes that lead to big outcomes? And we've discussed in previous episodes the importance of how application and implementation is the railway to innovate and healthcare to Neel's point. You really don't have to turn the whole system around to get some big results. And I think this is the picture that he's trying to paint here for us. Neel, if you had to point out the single greatest moment that you've experience in healthcare, what is that thing?

Wow that's a great question. I would say that earlier this year in 2018 back in March I was invited as a keynote speaker at a medical technology conference here in Arizona. And you're not have like sat on the panels and have I have logged some of my work but never an opening keynote speaker. Right. So that was a big moment a proud moment. As a Biomedical informaticist and Healthcare Futurist, I wanted to share a vision which is beyond me. Which is they about EpiFinder, which is something which should be all working how to be a doctor, be a patient, be a pharmacy, be a healthcare insurance company or pay anyone who is dealing on a day to day basis. I wanted to share something which is applicable with our lives and to them and what they share at the end of my talk, it's not about the technology itself. We don't you lack innovation. We don't lack technology around us. What we lack is access of the human inertia because human beings don't want to change unless they see an impact. Good outcomes by using something which are not used to and you can only make that possible by getting the buy in rather than enforcing it, rather than making it by creating penalties around it because you can do that but you would not get that actual bite. They will do it because it's a mandate. But how about we create something which they love doing it, which they can do it no matter where they are, who they are, or how they are impacting healthcare. And so last but not the least after my talk, one of the MD stood and like kind of upped the question and instead of questioning like my talk, he said "Neel you really hit the point hard. I've been a neurosurgeon, I've been in the industry for the world 35 plus years and every day a young kid will pop out and will come and meet with me like wearing T-shirt and jeans and say hey I have a new app for you without even thinking why it's beneficial to my organization and the way you articulated and made sure that this is a challenge for all of us to take back to our organization and think deeply that how we can focus on our workflow rather than focusing on bringing a new technology just because it's cool." And that was I guess a proud moment, not that because I was a keynote speaker, but it was very well received by over 300 people in the room.

That's awesome man. Congratulations on that. Sounds like it definitely struck a chord especially with this neurosurgeon. And you know this theme does come up often on the podcast we talk about the importance of understanding our end customers needs. And prior to going and building the next shiny object or technology making sure that you listen and that you listen carefully before you start building and getting that feedback that you need to Neel's point to aid their workflow not to try to replace it. And so love that you shared that it's super exciting congrats that you had the keynote too. I'm sure that was fun part of what you had to do out there.

Yeah and it was a great moment for me to bring together all of my experience and all the things we do and I've led in healthcare in a quick 15 minute talk. So that was concise, precise and it was action-able orientated.

Love that. So tell us about an exciting project that you and your team are focused on in EpiFinder today.

So current project one of the projects which are Search Me is to understand the true economic impact of epilepsy. We are in a healthcare sector but we have fallen behind the courtroom in a sense that we don't calculate the cost. We don't calculate the impact of any changes or any new innovation or invention which we'd bring out in the marketplace. So what we are looking to do is identify that if we are able to identify a correct epilepsy for that patient in the post wizard child that would look like how much the adult will be able to save for that patient in particular for the pay of in particular and also benefit pharmaceutical companies because of the medication. In fact in in terms of the devlopment and what the new Bloxwich they're bringing out in the market if they are used by the patient had some that was there. Hopefully they are more effective. So we're building economic models from various viewpoints to really prove that because CNN backed him that's a tool for everyone who lives in what the patient or the payer or the farmer or the provider or the hospitals. And you know I'm from India, there are 12 million people in India who have epilepsy and about 1 million people high because of epilepsy each year not just two hours each year. And it's because that they don't have access to care. They don't have access to a tool but they are able to connect with a doctor. They don't have access but they can share what's going on with them. Now involvement in a case where he felt comfortable. Typically they are home not in the hospital. So we are feeling forward to work in the area and bringing about a positive difference in people's lives not only in the U.S. but globally.

That's awesome Neel and I could definitely hear the passion in your voice. It's backed by hard numbers of people that you are looking to improve their lives and so keep up the great work my friend. It's great work that you guys are up to.

Thank you. I appreciate that.

And so now let's turn. You and I are building a medical leadership course and what it takes to be successful in the business of healthcare,the one on one of Neel. And so we are going to write out a syllabus here with your help. I've got four questions for you lightning round style followed by a book that you recommend to the listeners, you ready?

Yes.

All right what's the best way to improve healthcare outcomes?

So there are multiple ways. But from my viewpoint I would say like taking into consideration of every stakeholders interests just what you are talking about. You know you have to look into who is our customer, who is our target market and then rewarding the uniformity of care in any specialty. It doesn't have to be epilepsy because that's where we are focused as a product but build in other products build in cacer, build in diabetes because by rewarding uniformity of care now you can bring about an informative and engaging discussion between different doctors who might have different viewpoints. But at the same time they know that they are doing it because they are putting the patient at the center.

Love that. What's the biggest mistake or pitfall to avoid?

This is for all the entrepreneurs who are out there just like me because we all have seen the movie pulled up names and they talk about if you build it they will come. That's how we started at EpiFinder three years ago. That's where the cool next gen app of a label for a doctor at any point that they can use from any anywhere at any point and all the doctors will say yes and we'll start making money. And it's not the case we have to really understand every individual in that ecosystem and design and align the technology so that they are receptive of that change and of that new habit or method that they have to implement into the day to day lives.

What a great message. How do you stay relevant as an organization despite constant change?

That's a great question. I would say that just like the pretty face always in this case talking with you. But I'm very grateful and very supportive of my business partner Robert and our 23 team members who worked day in and day out to bring this technology to life. And so we all do like a quick cuddle every day and have weekly team meetings where we discuss about new changes, new updates. And so I listen, I hear from them, I showed up a couple of things which I read on social media on various healthcare blogs has seen touch with Health 2.0. They really amazing organization which brings about new things which are coming out in the market. And along with that lot of updates from CTC from hid.com and places like that.

That's awesome. What would you say an area of focus that should drive every company in healthcare? What is that?

One focus which we live it and believe is that we are passionate about making a difference and succeed by million peoples lives globally for epilepsy as our first step. And then are starting clinical studies with the two clinics as I mentioned before. So we are focused on making sure that our stakeholders are happy, we are creating a study which is unbiased and randomized so that is a natural outcome and not just because we wanted a good number or a good name out of that, you are putting patients at the center so that's the focus which drives all of us every day.

What book would you recommend to the listeners, Neel?

I would say that I will recommend my very good friend's book, he just was on his second book. It's called The Connection. In fact his name is Goidie Boston and he just turn thirty I'm turning thirty in like the next six months. So when it comes to like inspiration, motivation, he's a great individual. So what he really talks about in this book is, you know when everything is siloed you know human health is siloed. So when you bring different stakeholders into the mix you'll build a solid connection. Of course you have to put it in a way that you know you're not creating any means but make more lends and it's logical and rational as well as emotional, especially in healthcare. So he talked about that he talked about his life story and what he has done so far and how is like making a difference in people's lives. Of course, it's completely if somebody broad book but it's applicable in healthcare as well.

Great recommendation, listeners check out all the things that we discussed today by going to outcomesrocket.health/epifinder and you'll be able to find the show notes the transcript links to the book that Neel shared as well as a link to his company EpiFinder. You're going to find all that there outcomesrocket.health/epifinder. Neel before we conclude, I'd love if you could just share a closing thought. And then the best way that the listeners could get in touch with or follow you.

So I would say that you get into healthcare. But be really patient and listen from everyone who is involved and make sure that you are not just putting your interests at the center because in healthcare especially it's not about the person who's buying or paying for it. It's getting the what do you call the fact of the benefit. Someone else is paying for that, someone else is using i,t and someone else is getting the benefit. So they are not like some black chevy in out. But at the same time the more time you spend the logical steps you take and the connections which make, will help you succeed in healthcare. And I would say the best way to reach me is LinkedIn. My name is Neel Mehta and type Healthcare Futurist after my name so you will be able to find my link. And also you can follow me on Twitter, it's I believed Neel my first name, my last name Mehta and 14.

Outstanding Neel and listeners will provide links to Neel's email as Twitter everything there on the website. Neel, this has been a blast. I really appreciate you spending time with us today and congrats on all the amazing work that you and your team are doing for epilepsy. I think it's great to have a company as energetic and focused as yours on on this particular area. So thanks again and looking forward to staying in touch.

Thank you Saul for having me and thank you everyone that Outcomes Rocket.

Hey Outcomes Rocket friends, thanks for tuning in to the podcast once again. As a leader in health care, you have big ideas great products, a story to tell, and are looking for ways to improve your reach and scale your business. However there's one tiny problem. Health care is tough to navigate and the typical sales cycle is low. That's why you should consider starting your own podcast as part of your sales and marketing strategy. At the Outcomes Rocket, I've been able to reach thousands of people every single month that I wouldn't have otherwise been able to reach if I had not started my podcast. Having this organic reach enables me to get the feedback necessary to create a podcast that delivers value that you are looking for. And the same thing goes if you start a podcast for what you could learn from your customers. The best thing about podcasting in healthcare is that we are currently at the ground level, meaning that the number of people in healthcare listening to podcasts is small but growing rapidly. I put together a free checklist for you to check out the steps on what it takes to create your own podcast. You could find that at outcomesrocket.health/podcast. Check it out today and find a new way to leverage the sales, marketing and outcomes of your business. That's outcomesrocket.health/podcast.

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Best Way to Contact Neel:

@neelmehta14 

Link to Check:

https://www.epifinder.com/

Check this out:

https://outcomesrocket.health/podcast

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