Riding into Healthcare’s Future
Episode

Sufian Chowdhury, CEO and founder of Kinetik

Riding into Healthcare’s Future

 

It’s time to change the wheels healthcare has been riding on. 

 

In this episode, Sufian Chowdhury shares how reimagining Non-Emergency Medical Transportation is Kinetik’s mission. When he started in finance, healthcare was never in his plans, but he grew a love for the industry through helping people. At Kinetik, they built a digital healthcare infrastructure that connects transportation services to patients. Sufian breaks down how they work as a connector between stakeholders through technology, with challenges and the next steps. He and his team know how to, as healthcare entrepreneurs, understand the marketplace and the needs of patients. 

 

Listen to this episode and discover how Kinetik is changing the wheels of healthcare.

Get The Latest In Your Inbox

SUBSCRIBE

Riding into Healthcare’s Future

About Sufian Chowdhury:

Sufian Chowdhury is a serial entrepreneur whose passion lies in improving the healthcare industry through innovative technology. Through his experience in healthcare consulting and entrepreneurship, Sufian has held multiple leadership positions in both the healthcare and startup industries.

Currently, Sufian is the Co-Founder and CEO of Kinetik, a venture-backed SaaS healthcare startup based out of New York City. Kinetik is developing innovative API & Platform solutions that connect key stakeholders in the non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) industry.

We envision a future in which the coordination and delivery of medical transportation will be so seamless that any patient, anywhere, can request a healthcare ride in real-time. To accomplish this, we have built the nation’s largest healthcare transportation infrastructure — one that digitally connects health plans, brokers, and providers. This enhanced level of connectivity significantly improves access to care for patients.

Sufian has over ten years of experience in management, fundraising, consulting, and technology, making him an excellent leader in the health tech industry. He has raised over $20 million for Kinetik to date, with Series A launching in April 2023. Under his leadership, Kinetik has grown from a company that started in the back offices of a local Brooklyn-based transportation company to a nationwide, industry-leading technology powerhouse. Kinetik has been doubling in size over the last couple of years, reaching nearly 100 employees, and has 10x revenue growth over the past year. Sufian leads with empathy and a focus on Kinetik’s core
values: Be Collaborative, Be Curious, Be Just.

 

Check out the ChatGPT conversation we had: 

What is NEMT?

 

NEMT stands for Non-Emergency Medical Transportation. It refers to transportation services that are provided to individuals who are unable to transport themselves to medical appointments, such as doctor visits, dialysis treatment, physical therapy, and other medical appointments. NEMT is typically used by individuals who are elderly, disabled, or have medical conditions that make it difficult for them to use public transportation or drive themselves. NEMT services are usually provided by specialized transportation providers, and may be funded by government programs, health insurance plans, or paid for out-of-pocket by individuals or their families.

 

How can I benefit from this?

If you or a loved one have a medical condition that makes it difficult to transport yourself to medical appointments, you may be able to benefit from NEMT services. By using NEMT, you can ensure that you are able to attend all of your medical appointments, which can be essential for maintaining your health and well-being.

 

Some of the potential benefits of NEMT include:

 

  • Access to medical care: NEMT can help ensure that you are able to get to all of your medical appointments, even if you are unable to drive or use public transportation.
  • Improved health outcomes: By attending all of your medical appointments, you may be able to manage your medical conditions more effectively and avoid complications.
  • Reduced stress: NEMT can help reduce the stress and anxiety associated with transportation to medical appointments, especially if you have mobility issues or other medical concerns.
  • Cost savings: If you have health insurance, NEMT services may be covered by your plan, which can help you save money on transportation costs.

 

To benefit from NEMT services, you can contact your healthcare provider, health insurance plan, or local transportation providers to learn more about available services and how to access them.

 

How can I reach out to my policymakers regarding NEMT in California?

If you would like to reach out to your policymakers in California regarding NEMT, there are several steps you can take:

 

  • Identify your representatives: You can find out who your state and federal representatives are by visiting the California Secretary of State’s website or the United States House of Representatives website. You can then find their contact information, such as their email addresses, phone numbers, and mailing addresses.
  • Research the issue: Before contacting your representatives, it’s important to educate yourself about the issue of NEMT in California. You can research the current laws, regulations, and policies related to NEMT in California, as well as any proposed changes or initiatives.
  • Craft your message: Once you have a good understanding of the issue, you can craft a message that expresses your concerns and priorities related to NEMT. Be sure to explain why NEMT is important to you, and how any proposed changes or initiatives may impact your ability to access medical care. 
  • Contact your representatives: You can contact your representatives by phone, email, or mail. Be sure to provide your full name, address, and contact information, and identify yourself as a constituent. You can then share your message, and ask your representatives to take action to support NEMT in California.
  • Follow up: After you have contacted your representatives, you can follow up with them to see if they have taken any action on the issue of NEMT. You can also continue to advocate for NEMT by participating in public hearings, attending community events, and reaching out to other stakeholders who may be interested in the issue.”

 

Outcomes Rocket_Sufian Chowdhury: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

Download the “Outcomes Rocket_Sufian Chowdhury audio file directly.

Outcomes Rocket_Sufian Chowdhury: 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 with the Outcomes Rocket. I want to thank you for tuning into the podcast again today. I’ve got an exciting conversation with an entrepreneur. His name is Sufian Chowdhury. He founded Kinetik in 2017 and has just completed $20 million of Seed Funding and recently launched into Series A. His passion for helping others while building a business is the perfect combination of skills that really all healthcare leaders can benefit from. We’re going to be covering the areas of care that they work with, which is really non-emergency medical transportation for low-income patients, and I’m excited to have him here today. So, Sufian, thank you for joining us.

Sufian Chowdhury:
Saul, thank you for having me. I’m excited.

Saul Marquez:
Absolutely. Same here. Now before we dive into the value prop and the awesome work you guys are up to at Kinetik, talk to us about you, what is it that inspires your work in health care?

Sufian Chowdhury:
I got started in healthcare about ten years ago, and when I started my career in finance, I had no intention of going into healthcare. But I think it’s something that grows on you as you work in the field, as you see all the inefficiencies and inadequacies and just services that outright could be so much better for tens of millions of people. You kind of gravitate towards it and you want to solve issues and problems in a more practical manner. And given all the bureaucracies and technicalities around entering the marketplace, it takes a ton of perseverance to do this, but it grows on you. And when you see the problems, you want to be one of the pioneers to solve issues, especially on a local level.

Saul Marquez:
I love that. Yeah, I couldn’t agree with you more, Sufian. It’s that mission that sits at the core of healthcare, sny busines, right? I mean, it just powers you up. And so as we think about Kinetik and the work that you guys do, how would you say the business is adding value to the healthcare ecosystem? Tell us about what you do.

Sufian Chowdhury:
Yeah, absolutely. So Kinetik, what we’ve built is a digital healthcare infrastructure for transportation. What that means is those who are transportation providers and the recipients of these services, which are mostly members and patients who need these rides, we connect them digitally. Historically, prior to Kinetik, it was basically a telephonic, fax, paper communication, it was just really rough to get a patient in touch with the right transportation provider. And so that’s what we’re really solving for, making it easier for members and their insurance companies to find the appropriate mode of transportation for the member. And then for the transport providers, we have a payment solution that allows them to get paid on time for these services that they provide.

Saul Marquez:
Fantastic. It’s a turnkey approach. And look, I’ll just say it because people are thinking it is okay, so what’s the difference between you and an Uber or Lyft?

Sufian Chowdhury:
Yeah, absolutely. I think, if you look at the way Uber and Lyft are designed, these are network companies and transportation network companies. They don’t necessarily focus in on any particular domain. They’re really just providers of transportation services. The challenge with the market that we serve, they require higher levels of care. So if the driver is not properly trained to escort a member who’s on a wheelchair into the vehicle properly or out of the vehicle properly or through the doors of a healthcare facility, if they’re not adequately trained, then they won’t be able to provide the service that the member needs. If you look at, you know, rideshare companies and drivers, oftentimes when they’re addressing even healthcare needs, one of the biggest challenges for them is that the driver doesn’t even know that this is a health care ride. And so for us, it’s to ensure that the drivers and the transport providers know that this patient or this member needs extra attention. The drivers need to be trained, they need to be compliant and certified, you’re dealing with health care patients, et cetera. So there’s a level of compliancy that ride shares inherently don’t accommodate, and it’s not to their fault or doing, it’s just they’re not made to serve the health care industry in a way that’s needed.

Saul Marquez:
Man, you just knock that one down. I love that.

Sufian Chowdhury:
They are our partners, though.

Saul Marquez:
No, that’s great.

Sufian Chowdhury:
We love them.

Saul Marquez:
No, no, for sure. And look, I mean. I say that in a good way, right? Like you addressed my question in a really, really good way. You’re specialized and you are health care and that’s what you do. And your drivers and the people that work at the company, that’s what they’re focused on, and that’s why it’s different.

Sufian Chowdhury:
You’re right. For us, as the digital technology company, we don’t necessarily train the drivers, we’re not a transportation-based we integrate with existing transportation bases. So in this industry, non-emergency medical transportation is about an $8 to $10 billion marketplace, and it’s primarily covered by Medicaid. So those who are on Medicaid insurances, there’s a high chance that they’re qualified for it. And Medicare Advantage is also starting to offer these services for their recipients and beneficiaries. So it is specialized and it needs to be covered by your insurance. And it’s administered on a state by state level, there are over 20,000 transport providers that provide the service. There are 2 to 300 million rides that take place every year. And so we don’t necessarily do the service-based component of it. We simply connect the service providers. We connect the health plans.

Saul Marquez:
I’m with you now.

Sufian Chowdhury:
Transport companies, and we connect the transport companies with the drivers, so we’re really a connector technology.

Saul Marquez:
Got it. Thanks for clarifying that. Yeah. So essentially you’re connecting the experts with the experts and it’s all health care. Yeah, fantastic.

Sufian Chowdhury:
It’s all digitally integrated and connected. And you can track every ride the way you do when you request a rideshare ride.

Saul Marquez:
Love that. Thank you for that. And how would you say what you do, you and the team do their Kinetik, has improved outcomes or made business better?

Sufian Chowdhury:
Yeah, absolutely. So one of the status quo that we’re challenging today because of the fragmented nature of this marketplace and because all the stakeholders operate in their own silos. If you’re a Medicaid patient, you need to request these rides upwards of 72 hours ahead of your appointment. So in a world where, if we want to go to a restaurant or we want to go see our friends, we’re one click away from getting that ride within a few minutes. However, the folks who really need this level of care, they need to request these rides 72 hours in advance because the system is broken. That’s the status quo that we’re challenging and our goal is to collapse that time to, as simple as a few minutes where you request it similar to your rideshare experience. But it’s a medical appointment, so you could choose whether it’s a wheelchair or gurney or whatever the mode of transportation is. In real time you get that as opposed to waiting 72 hours in advance to get these rides.

Saul Marquez:
That’s game changer. I mean, if you go from 72 hours to a few minutes. Wow. Like that’s.

Sufian Chowdhury:
That’s what we’re trying to do. And it takes a lot of effort because it’s health care and highly regulated and it’s bureaucratic and you have to go state by state. So the challenges are there. But when the mission is strong enough and you have a great enough team, you can throw it in and take it over.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, man, I agree. And by the way, folks like, I mean, just enjoy connecting with Sufian here, we had a little chat before the podcast. His team’s in the room with them, so that was a shout out to his team in the room. You can’t build great companies without great teams and had a chance to meet several of the folks on his team, really impressed with what they’re doing over there. So you mentioned that, right, Sufian? Like without challenges, you just can’t do it. So talk to us about one of those biggest setbacks you’ve experienced and a key learning that came out of it that’s made you guys better?

Sufian Chowdhury:
I mean, every step of the way. Six years ago, I started this company six years ago and every step of the way, it was challenging. The initial challenges that we faced were trying to digitize local mom and pop shops. These are local transport companies who own these, their providers who own their companies for 10, 20 years without having to digitize. And you have this company come around and say, hey, I want to digitize your operations. They’re like, get out of here, what are you talking about? We like our processes. And so the challenge there, if it’s not digitized, there’s no way we could track these rides in real time, there’s no way we could track payments. And that’s because you deal with it. A lot of folks in this industry who service it, service it for decades, who have serviced it for decades, don’t necessarily want to go and learn new technology and adopt new technology. And so that was our initial challenge, trying to digitize a non-digital marketplace. And you have to get the buy in of the rideshare companies who say, why are you or let’s do exclusivity. But our thing was, if we do exclusivity with you, we’re doing a disservice to the members who need it because we want to give them accessibility to as many vehicles as possible, it’s closest to them. And I think we had our rideshare partners buy into this vision, we had local transport companies buy into this vision, and now we’re starting to see some of the largest health plans in the country buy into our vision, so that’s amazing, every step of the way. It was incredibly challenging raising funding to support this. We had to go to investors to say, hey, this isn’t a 1 to 2 year plan, this is a 10 year plan. And to have the shareholder base that we have and we’ve raised, like you said, $20 million in funding and we’re raising a Series A, we’ve actually officially about to launch the series A.

Saul Marquez:
Nice.

Sufian Chowdhury:
It takes a lot of buy in. And, you know, every step of the way it takes a lot of convincing folks to see the world through your prism.

Saul Marquez:
That’s great. Thank you for that. And look, folks, if you haven’t realized, like the conversation here with Sufian, you now understand your marketplace. I mean, he’s clear, right? It’s a 8 to $10 billion marketplace, understand the opportunity, be clear about your vision. 72 hours to a few minutes. He’s been in this for six years, that’s clarity right there. And so definitely listen to this conversation because there’s so many gems embedded inside of it if you’re a healthcare entrepreneur. And so, Sufian, as you think about the progress made, the challenges overcome, what is it that you’re most excited about today?

Sufian Chowdhury:
Just excited about taking this product to market. It took us six years to build the technology and infrastructure. We have over 250 customers on the payment side, we’ve just launched with a couple of our enterprise clients. And our enterprise clients are the health plans who are now going to take our application. We’re launching our mobile app that’s coming out in 2024, which will be very exciting, you know, if you qualify for it and if we are working with your health plan, you’ll be able to download an app and request these rides. So just seeing this vision come to life, like you said, over the course of a decade, it’s in the hands of tens of millions of people, it’s incredibly, incredibly exciting.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, it sure is. And, you know, great things take time and want to give you kudos, Sufian, for doing what you’ve done and assembling the team that you have because we will benefit from it, all of us. So look, I just want to say thank you. This conversation’s been really great, but I also know it’s just the tip of the iceberg and what people could know about you guys and how they could interact, get more information, so why don’t we conclude by you giving us a closing thought and then sharing the best place that the listeners could get in touch with you and the team for more info.

Sufian Chowdhury:
I’m very active on LinkedIn, so if you just search Sufian Chowdhury Kinetik, you’ll see me there. Our website is www.Kinetik, K I N E T I K, .care. We’re launching a brand new website that’s coming out next week, so check that out.

Saul Marquez:
Nice.

Sufian Chowdhury:
And then for everybody else, I highly suggest if you are on Medicaid or if you know someone on Medicaid or if you know someone who needs transportation services, incapable of driving themselves or paying for these services, talk to your local legislators, talk to your local officials to say, hey, we need change and we need digitization and we need new technology in the space to come and help us get to our medical appointments on time.

Saul Marquez:
I love that. And hey, there’s got to be like a way like, what if people don’t know where to go? Is there like a link or.

Sufian Chowdhury:
Yeah, I mean honestly.

Saul Marquez:
State by state to, right?

Sufian Chowdhury:
Yeah. So like if you just literally google NEMT services and put your insurance name, it’ll take you to where you need to go. It varies state by state and payer by payer. So just Google it. I mean, ask ChatGPT probably it’s.

Saul Marquez:
Okay. How should you leverage that? What should, what should people ask ChatGPT to find the answer? What should they ask?

Sufian Chowdhury:
Yeah, I’d say what is NEMT and how do I benefit from it and see what it says? Probably an answer, I fed it.

Saul Marquez:
Oh, hey, can we look it up real quick? I kust kind of.

Sufian Chowdhury:
Let’s do it.

Saul Marquez:
Okay. Okay.

Sufian Chowdhury:
What is NEMT?

Saul Marquez:
Okay. And how do I benefit from it?

Saul Marquez:
We’re on chatgpt? I’ll pull it up. That’s okay. Let’s do it. Okay. Hold on. It’s loading. Okay, here we go.

David:
You might have to write the whole acronym out. So, what is non-emergency medical transportation. I could try it on my end.

Saul Marquez:
Try it. Let’s see who gets it done first. My internet connection is kind of slow. And folks, you’re going to get the answer here, but kind of fun. We got to use this stuff, you know, and I’ve been talking to folks about ChatGPT. If you’re not using it, you’re missing out.

Sufian Chowdhury:
Yeah, I think everybody should embrace all these AI tools. It really we’re at a hundred or so employees and we’re looking to not hire as much. If we don’t have to hire, we don’t need to hire. And I think these AI tools are just game changers.

Saul Marquez:
I agree

Sufian Chowdhury:
So I’m going to search on what is not.

Saul Marquez:
Is it NEMT?

David:
Yeah. NEMT, Non-emergency medical transportation.

Saul Marquez:
Oh yeah, yeah. No, I asked it what is NEMT, NEMT stands for non-emergency medical transportation. Cool. It’s there. And then what else? What? Like, how can I?

David:
Yeah. How do I benefit from this? Wow. Good stuff.

Saul Marquez:
By the way, folks, I’ll share this output from ChatGPT afterwards. Yeah, it’s all right here. And then how can I reach out to my, what did you say, policymakers or?

David:
Policymakers regarding NEMT or changed to NEMT? It’s actually pretty cool. And I use this tool to find all sorts of things here ….

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, this is great. So I typed in California and then boom, it gave me the answers.

David:
California’s big market. New York’s a big market.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, I’m in California. Okay, guys, we’re going to share this. But, like, like, I mean, look, the bottom line is the answer will be in the show notes because ChatGPT gave it to us. And of course, David teed it up. You got to ask it the right questions. But look, David, the future is bright with entrepreneurs like you and the teams that you assembled. So I want to thank you so much for being with us today. Folks, just a reminder, everything that we talked about today, including Sufian’s. Website, which is Kinetik.care, and all of the resources, including the ChatGPT outputs, will be there for you to review. So Sufian, I really want to thank you for your time today and congrats on the progress.

Sufian Chowdhury:
I appreciate it, Saul, Thank you so much.

Sonix is the world’s most advanced automated transcription, translation, and subtitling platform. Fast, accurate, and affordable.

Automatically convert your mp3 files to text (txt file), Microsoft Word (docx file), and SubRip Subtitle (srt file) in minutes.

Sonix has many features that you’d love including upload many different filetypes, collaboration tools, automated translation, transcribe multiple languages, and easily transcribe your Zoom meetings. Try Sonix for free today.

 

Things You’ll Learn:

  • Some people gain a love for the healthcare industry through working in it. 
  • Usually, transportation in healthcare required a lot of traditional methods of communication. 
  • Healthcare transportation requires drivers to be trained to handle patients. 
  • The difference with Uber or Lyft is healthcare transportation services train their drivers to manage care through their offers.
  • The non-emergency medical transportation is about an $8 to $10 billion marketplace. 

Resources: