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Peer-to-peer Collaboration to Achieve Clinical Mastery
Episode

Josh Wildstein CEO at Figure 1

Peer-to-peer Collaboration to Achieve Clinical Mastery

What happens when social media meets education meets healthcare? In today’s episode, we hear from Figure 1’s CEO, Josh Wieldstein, sharing how the company is democratizing medical knowledge and sharing information from real cases. 

Access to information has been a topic widely discussed recently, and when it comes to medical knowledge, sharing it may help solve cases faster. Josh shares how Figure 1 is creating a network worldwide, their on-demand services and products, the importance of peer-to-peer support, and 

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Peer-to-peer Collaboration to Achieve Clinical Mastery

About Josh Wildstein

Josh brings over twenty years of digital health experience to his role as CEO of Figure 1. Hired in late 2016 to build Figure 1’s monetization efforts from the ground up, he spearheaded the successful go-to-market strategy, revenue growth, and creation of a client roster featuring many of the world’s biopharma firms. In late 2019 he assumed the role of Figure 1 CEO. 

Before Figure 1, Josh held leadership roles at WebMD (early days through IPO), Q. Wild (digital health consulting), and Accenture. He has a BA from Union College (NY), a Master’s of Health Administration, and Masters of Business Administration from the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA. 

 

Peer-to-peer Collaboration to Achieve Clinical Mastery with Josh Wildstein, CEO at Figure 1: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

Peer-to-peer Collaboration to Achieve Clinical Mastery with Josh Wildstein, CEO at Figure 1: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Saul Marquez:
Hey, everybody, Saul Marquez here, with the Outcomes Rocket, so glad you tune back in. Today, I have the privilege of hosting the amazing Josh Wildstein, Figure 1 CEO, he brings over 20 years of digital health experience to his role as CEO at Figure 1, hired in the late 2016s to build Figure 1’s monetization efforts from the ground up, he spearheaded the successful go-to-market strategy, their revenue growth, and creation of a client roster featuring many of the world’s biopharma firms. In late 2019, he assumed the role of Figure 1 CEO, before Figure 1, Josh held leadership position roles at WebMD, early days through their IPO, Q Wild Digital Health Consulting and Accenture, he is just an incredible leader in healthcare, hot his BA from Union College, Masters in Health Administration and Master’s of Business Administration from the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University in Atlanta, just an incredible leader in healthcare and I’m super excited to connect with him and share some of the things that they’re doing at Figure 1 with all of you. So, Josh, so glad you’re joining us today.

Josh Wieldstein:
Thank you, Saul, what an introduction, I appreciate it.

Saul Marquez:
Absolutely! So, you know, it’s hard to, number one, get monetization efforts off the ground. A lot of times you get great ideas and just figuring out how to connect the dots on bringing the revenue in in a way that has value to the market is, is a challenge, so I’m excited to talk to you about that, for sure. But before we dive into that, I’d love to hear more about you. What is it that got you into the healthcare business?

Josh Wieldstein:
Sure. I, initially, when I got out of college, you mentioned Union College, I thought I would be an aspiring hockey announcer, I had always loved sports and I actually grew up in Atlanta, but went to Union, which is in upstate New York and was a hockey broadcaster, came out of college and did that for a year in the minor leagues and realized that the reality of that is very different than the college kind of dream of it. And so I always had a pretty good head for business, I come from a family of physicians, and my dad used to always tell me that the, the business of medicine is totally screwed up, you should go check it out because there’s lots of opportunity. And so as you mentioned, I did that, going to graduate school here in Atlanta, actually, while I was still able to to do the announcing. And then in the early days of the internet, I started at WebMD and kind of stayed in the kind of health tech, if you will, we called it digital health back then, business ever since. So seeing lots of changes and lots of growth.

Saul Marquez:
Love it, yeah, you know, it’s cool to hear that perspective from a physician family to say, hey, there’s so much that could be done here, and that’s what you guys are up to it at Figure 1, so why don’t you help level set and tell us a little bit about what Figure 1 is doing and how you’re adding value to the healthcare ecosystem?

Josh Wieldstein:
Sure, thank you. So, Figure 1’s an interesting company, the kind of short sound bite that you might read from some of the press that we’ve had, we call it the Instagram for doctors, but it’s really much more than that, it was started by three gentlemen in Toronto, and I know, and it was really meant to democratize medical knowledge, meaning that the idea is that if anybody in the world was to fall sick, you know, just, so if you and I were to fall sick today, we’re probably going to get pretty good care. But if we had the exact same ailment in other parts of the world, we may not simply based on a lack of information or a lack of knowledge. And so the idea of Figure 1 is really modern kind of peer-to-peer knowledge sharing, we’re HCPs, healthcare professionals from all over the world can upload cases either to share information or to give back to the community, or in many cases, to try to get action, whether that’s to get help or to give help, and so it’s really kind of a, interesting, modern kind of knowledge sharing platform, is how we like to call it.

Saul Marquez:
It’s amazing, you know, and there’s so much great knowledge available, why not give it to physicians that could use it worldwide? And so access is a big thing here, and leveraging technology to help remote and less fortunate areas of the globe get access to this type of care is, is key. Talk to us a little bit about how what you offer is different than what’s out in the market today?

Josh Wieldstein:
Sure, I think it’s a pretty unique platform that we have. I don’t know a lot of other folks that are really focused on kind of collaboration all through the lens of the real-world case, we like to say and Figure 1, the, the cases’ the atomic unit of what we do. And so really, it started off as an English-focused product, started in Canada, the United States scaled out to other English-speaking countries like the UK and Australia, and really, the value is in the real world learning. And so over the length of the company’s history, we generated or had users upload over one hundred thousand real world cases. And these are coming from users that just through word of mouth, have registered and joined the platform in 196 countries. So over two million HCPs specific comments on these cases, and so the beauty is twofold, one is to be able to share knowledge not just in the United States and Canada, but in other parts of the world, as you mentioned. The other beauty of it is to give the, the healthcare professional, which is completely overloaded, busy and this was before COVID, it’s 10 times so now, a very simple, safe, and secure way to be able to collaborate, and so especially in the times of COVID and even in other pandemics, we were seeing cases from all over the world where HCPs were looking for help in understanding what was going on and through a platform like ours can, very quickly, get information from some of the best clinical minds in the world.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, that’s, that’s very unique and, and folks, if you, you’re obviously, you know, picking up here what Josh is saying, but there’s so many visual components to, to the offering if you are curious, it’s actually Figure the number 1.com, Figure1.com, so the platform is really revolutionizing access, and also, you know, this whole idea of standardization, right? Like we really have so much variability in care in our system, forget about globally, it’s about being able to level set on that front. Talk to us about some of the outcomes, improvement, and even business results that you guys have been able to make happen.

Josh Wieldstein:
Sure. So it’s a pretty interesting platform and, really the main kind of thrust in terms of outcomes is twofold. One is kind of improvement in people’s understanding about how to either identify a condition or treat a condition, and so we, we’ve seen everything from rare diseases to kind of distribution of clinical guidelines or updated information. You know, people can’t really keep up with all the information that’s out there today, and so being able to see how others are treating these kind of cases in real time, especially in places where you may practice is really terrific. In terms of the collaboration, we have an ability for physicians or HCPs of a certain type to request, we call it paging, but request help from others to kind of help them either figure out what might be going on or push them in the right direction. And so we’ve seen incredible improvement, number one, these paging cases on average are solved, and I’ll put that in quotes because it’s up to the kind of original poster to declare them solved in forty-five minutes and in a hospital, that’s almost impossible. And then in terms of outcomes, we’ve had a tremendous number of people who are able to find solutions, so roughly 40 percent of the unsolved cases that I mentioned turn into actual diagnoses that lead to improved outcomes from folks through the platform.

Saul Marquez:
That’s super interesting. And so talk to us, Josh, about how users interact, who are the users? You know, is it hospital system signing their doctors up? Is it individual physicians? Talk to us about the breakdown there.

Josh Wieldstein:
Sure. So it’s a free product for anybody in healthcare, all you have to do is come in and sign up, verify your credentials, which we do in 100 countries around the world, we have really everybody who wants to learn healthcare on the platform, we have roughly, you know, we have almost all the medical students in many countries around the world who come in and want to see volume all the way up to some of the top physician minds. And so we have physicians, residents, a huge community of NPs, NPAs who are looking to improve knowledge, RNs all the way down to random types of folks like veterinarians, lots of dentists, anybody who wants to learn and improve or share information in healthcare is welcome onto the platform. And so that kind of creating this closed network, we feel like it’s really a safe space for folks to be able to talk about and share information, not just around these specific cases, but even other kind of attitudinal things that are happening in healthcare, burnout or ways to deal with, you know, accountable care and these kind of changes that you see in practice.

Saul Marquez:
Got it, wxcellent. And so walk us through the the model, then Josh, what’s the monetization piece there?

Josh Wieldstein:
So this is really something that I think is kind of unique to what we’ve been able to do at Figure 1, like I mentioned to you, Saul, as you know, I was at WebMD a long time and Attune, and I was asked to kind of come in and help build this model, there were two things that I thought were critical from my experience. One was do no harm, meaning we have a very robust community of healthcare professionals, and I didn’t want to kind of do anything that would make them feel like suddenly the, the platform is, is only about generating dollars because that’s a big piece, but more important than that, I felt like there was a unique way to evolve how our clients, which are pharmaceutical companies or medical device companies, could interact with professionals, healthcare professionals, that was very different than what had been done in the past. And so on many platforms that you might see, like a Medscape, or Docximity, or others, a lot of it is about kind of display branded pharmaceutical ads, that’s the same stuff that we were doing in 2003, and when we talk to our users, we understood two things that were really important. One is that most of them didn’t want to hear directly from the pharmaceutical companies themselves, but two is that most of them did want to understand from these firms, but in a way that was respectful to their profession, how to leverage their drugs to improve the outcomes for patients. And so what we did was we took that information and went to some of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world and said, we think we have a different way that we’ll get these people to communicate with you and learn the things you hope they will learn, but through kind of the lens of Figure 1. And so that’s really focused on two parts, one is making sure that the quality information that we’re giving over is exactly the same as what they’d expect on the platform organically, meaning it’s all still done through the real world case, and then two is, to try to make it more of a modern approach, meaning pharmaceutical company, speaker dinners or MSL visits or what have you are typically very dense, lots of PowerPoint slides, lots of information, our users want the information presented in the same kind of robust but quick, kind of, snackable way, they might get it anywhere else. And so that’s really our secret sauce, if you will, is taking kind of a deck from our clients and putting it through the Figure 1 car wash, so to speak, so that the outcome is exactly the same quality of science that’s being articulated, but in these kind of bite sized snackable ways, and so that’s really what’s worked for us.

Saul Marquez:
That’s really cool, that’s really cool. And I would imagine a lot more scalable than some of the dinner efforts that are typically done.

Josh Wieldstein:
That’s right. So both scalable in terms of the ability to reach people faster and more effectively and also much more cost efficient. You know, when you hold these dinners, you know, they’re expensive, you don’t know necessarily what people are taking away from another than having a meal and talking to their friends, you know, with our kind of a solution, you know, I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily meant to be a replacement, we’ll see, but it’s meant to certainly be an alternative that is unique and can be consumed on demand when you want. And so in addition to just the way that the speaker dinners have worked, a big part of it is just, you know, hey, can you be at this place at 7:30 on a Tuesday? And with kind of some of the ways that we’ve created complementary products, you know, they’re on demand, when you want it, how you want it, much like a Netflix or some other kind of content that way.

Saul Marquez:
That’s fantastic, that’s fantastic. Thanks for for educating us on that, Josh. And you know, I think it’s important really the stakeholders you touch, it’s worth kind of summarizing, so on the one hand, physicians looking for best ways to, to work and find solutions to their problems, great platform. If you’re a pharma company looking to best position your technologies, another great platform to do that, it’s it’s important to highlight that, did I miss anything, Josh?

Josh Wieldstein:
No, I think that’s basically, I mean, I think the beauty of our platform is that, you know, it’s got kind of two components to it. There’s the organic side, which is essentially modern, peer-to-peer education, where the HCPs are educating each other, and then we have kind of stepped in, Saul, recently by expanding that kind of content through podcasting, we have a very popular podcast or through videos that we made around cases. So that’s one component, the peer-to-peer piece, and then for the pharma companies, it’s just about being in the conversation, but in, in an organic kind of native way that will allow the goodwill between the pharmaceutical firm and the physician to go up because you’re finally helping them treat their patients more effectively with the information they want to know, versus creating friction in the relationship, you know, by continuing to kind of give them a lot of the information that they don’t find to be very valuable.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, very cool. And is that the DDX podcast?

Josh Wieldstein:
Yeah. So DDX …. Yeah, so I appreciate you asking about that. So we’re curious like everybody else, this is probably two years ago about podcasting, and we felt like many of the physician-focused podcasts that are out there are very similar to speaker dinners, they’re an hour long sometimes, two or three physicians talking about very medical topics, we wanted to see what would happen if again, through the lens of the real world case, we took a more storytelling approach and so on our own initially, with a partner, we created six episodes of season one, where we took six fascinating cases out of Figure 1 and presented them almost like a mystery diagnosis, if you will. So there’s a physician host, and then as an example, one of the cases from the first season was a patient who had a seizure every time he did a Sudoku puzzle. And so it gets presented as kind of an interesting edutainment, if you will, and so that first season was downloaded over two hundred thousand times by people through the various platforms. We then expanded and decided to do a second season, which was focused on dermatology, again 6 episodes, we do this with a partner and really fascinating contents, and then we just completed our third season, which was all around rare disease and again, six episodes. We have two more seasons completed that are coming, but what we find is that it’s a fascinating combination of kind of the best of Figure 1 but through the audio format. And so when we look to try to expand the platform, we basically said, how do we take Figure 1 and put it in these other ways so that people can still get what they like from it, but in the different kind of channels?

Saul Marquez:
I love it! I think that’s awesome, folks, we’ll add a link to the DDX podcast, DD is a short for differential diagnosis, and some of the titles are really neat, searching for zebras, among other attention grabbing titles there, so make sure you check that out. Man, Josh, what would you say you’re most excited about today?

Josh Wieldstein:
I think really the thing that has me the most excited, especially as kind of a grizzled veteran who’s been in digital health a long time, is that we really see tremendous appetite for kind of a more modern knowledge sharing approach with content that typically has not been updated in the way that it’s been distributed for a long time. And so I think what started out is kind of focusing on peer-to-peer sharing, which is certainly, you know, a lot of what we do, has now taken on this kind of broader approach, which is the, the ability to share knowledge and to learn in medicine is more important than ever, the amount of information is more than ever, and people are expecting to be able to keep up through the same kind of modern approach that they see in every other part of their life. And so we’re looking and excited about broadening our horizons to be able to deliver those kinds of things in a way that is really appealing to, to the healthcare professional.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, that is exciting. So as you guys have been building the business and things are working, what’s one of the biggest setbacks you’ve experienced? What did you learn from that? How have you guys become better as a result of that?

Josh Wieldstein:
Yeah, I think the hardest thing for us really has been after, you know, the company grew very rapidly through word of mouth, and that was really based on some press that we’ve received, as well as just kind of an initial buzz of the kind of platform. What’s been harder since then is trying to get word out to people that didn’t quite hear about us the first time. And so really, as a small startup, that’s been our biggest barrier. And when we talk to physicians, if they don’t know Figure 1 and they hear about it and they see it, they get very excited. And their first reaction is, why haven’t I seen this before? And so really, you know, you’re talking about a very difficult niche market, of very busy people. And then obviously in COVID, it’s even more so, and so that’s really been the biggest challenge. And so we’re really now to answer your question about how we’ve become smarter, you know, the company really in its many early years, never had marketing as a function, it was always kind of just grassroots. And now we’ve kind of taken on a more formal approach of trying to reach folks wherever they are. The good news is we’ve organically generated tons of usage out of these medical students, and now they’re all graduating to become residents and such, so that’s nice, but we still have more to go.

Saul Marquez:
Love it. Well, folks, there’s an opportunity here for you to check out Figure 1 or share Figure 1. Josh, how do they do that?

Josh Wieldstein:
Just go to Figure1.com, as you mentioned Figure, then the number 1, just like in a medical textbook, see Figure1, that’s where the name came from. You can see how the app works, you can get access to DDX, you can see some of the content and some of the top medical names that we have, that write really great information for us, and you can sign up for the app.

Saul Marquez:
Beautiful, easy enough, and we will also leave you all links to be able to just click and get there. Make it easy for you. Ok, Josh, this has been awesome. Thanks for educating us, I’m definitely going to be checking this out and sharing it myself, but leave us with one closing thought and the best place where people can reach out to you.

Josh Wieldstein:
So if you just go through the Figure1.com and send in an email, it’ll get to me and really my, my closing thought would be that now more than ever, I think, if you’re a healthcare professional, you need a way to be able to very quickly try to get collaboration amongst your peers. And what we’ve seen historically, whether it was Zika, SARS, MERS, and even COVID, is that we’ve seen all of those cases on our platform organically, the sooner we can all as a community, identify what’s going on and share information, the better off everybody is. And so I would hope to continue to be able to do that in the future.

Saul Marquez:
Love it. Well, thank you, Josh. This has been a super interesting interview, thank you for the work you’re doing to bring the level of care up in the world and certainly excited to see the continued growth you guys are doing over there. Thanks again.

Josh Wieldstein:
Saul, appreciate it. Thank you so much.

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Things You’ll Learn

  • How a single platform is creating access to medical knowledge worldwide. 
  • The importance of improving access to information worldwide. 
  • If people want to learn, they will find a community. 
  • Users like the information given to them concisely and in biteable chunks. 

 

Resources

  • Connect and follow Josh on LinkedIn.
  • Discover more about Figure 1 on their website.
  • Follow Figure 1 on Twitter.
  • Listen to the DDX Podcast here.