Empowering Women and Families to Take Care of Their Health with Paris Wallace, CEO at Ovia Health

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Empowering Women and Families to Take Care of Their Health with Paris Wallace, CEO at Ovia Health

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Empowering Women and Families to Take Care of Their Health with Paris Wallace, CEO at Ovia Health

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 slow. 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 and today I have an outstanding guest for you today. His name is Paris Wallace CEO and co-founder at Ovia Health, the leading women's health and technology company trusted and loved by millions. Ovia's Health fertility, pregnancy, and parenting programs empower women and families to take control of their health care and start families with confidence. Paris is also co-founder of Good Start Genetics. It's a genomics company focused on fertility and reproductive health. Good Start Genetics was acquired by Invitae and this is a stock market NVTA. Prior to Good Start Genetics, Paris spent his career starting companies and working with startups. He's a serial entrepreneur, a lover of health care and making things better in outcomes and so it's a pleasure to welcome you to the podcast, Paris.

Yeah thank you so much for having me. I'm excited for our conversation today.

Absolutely. Now is there anything in that intro that I left out that you want to let the listeners know about?

No. I mean you do a nice job of summing up. You know I spent my last 10 years really trying to improve the health care system for women and families. I'm really really excited about that.

Well it's an important mission to be focused on. There's definitely room for improvement and also a lot of good being done and so curious what made you decide to get in the medical sector and focus in this space?

Absolutely. Yes so you know I decided pretty early on in life and my career that anything that I spend my time on professionally I wanted to be with a company, an organization that really had a tangible impact and a positive impact on the world. So early on, there while I was in business school I started looking at really closely studying kind of impact investing in organizations and really thinking about where I could get involved and actually ended up doing a fellowship at the Kennedy School at Harvard. I'm spent a year studying Social Entrepreneurship and saw so many different models of social change from nonprofits to for profits and really made the decision and the realization that I thought the way that I could make the most change and really have a positive impact in the world was to create a for profit company that ultimately was in a business that could change the world. No improvement for folks so started good start while I was in business school with the idea of helping parents see if they're at risk asking a genetic disorder to their children but really taking next generation DNA sequencing into the clinic were the first company to do that on a massive scale. Really pioneers in the genomic diagnostic space that has now become a huge industry. And then on the data side with Ovia Health now helped over 10 million women something I'm incredibly proud of my team is incredibly proud of you know to help them do the most important work that they do in their life of starting their family. And that's really been an amazing place to innovate but also really positively impact the world.

Met outstanding. And so you definitely have found a great niche to make that impact on. Folk, Paris was actually named to the 40 Under 40 list in Boston in 2017. So the way you do this is by adding major value on scale. And he's doing just that. So Paris just diving into the health care system today. You know you guys are focused on women's health and so within that what would you say a hot topic that needs to be on every medical leaders agenda today and how are you guys approaching it?

Yeah I think when I'm out looking and talk with folks across health or a spectrum I think something that there's not a big enough focus on and there certainly should be especially with the way that the trends the prevailing trends in health care just consumerism and health and thinking about the patient as the customer and how do you design solutions for those people as payers and also as patients. It's been a massive shift in who is paying for health care and whether dollars are coming from. Each year a larger and larger percent of those dollars but also frankly just a larger and larger percentage of the responsibility for one's health care is falling on that patient or back consumer. Yet the industry as a whole is still designing solutions for providers for payers and not necessarily for this end user who now more likely than ever and especially going into the future as is likely going to be paying for that service and likely going to be the one who's responsible for the follow up. So I really think how does the industry change how do we really embrace consumers, rethink the role that they're going to be playing in the ecosystem going forward, and start designing solutions but allow them to be more educated about their own health care and better navigate the system whether it be on the payment side or even the treatment side where these users are getting more most possibility.

I think that's such a great highlight. Paris Sandy had a previous guest say that the user interface to health care is broken and it presents many opportunities for entrepreneurs. And so you're definitely highlighting that point as well. Can you give the listeners an example of how you at Ovia or at one of your other companies have improved that user interface?

Yeah absolutely. You know one of the big problems in health care is data interoperability. Right. So there's all these amazing data analytics tools that exist but there's not a data set for them to be used against that can really forward science and understanding. So in Ovia we came up with this really simple idea which is we will create a great platform for users that's really delightful and we'll ask them to share their data and then we'll use that database to do core research on women's health really to get the outcomes. So you know we start, we launched us about five years ago. Fast forward we now have the largest data set that's ever been collected in women's health over 15 billion data points across and million women and we're using medical guidelines and machine learning to really understand the fundamental biology for women's health and how to promote outcomes in a way that's totally unprecedented. Right. And it really started from that design thinking of not saying hey how do we access information that's in EMR maybe across different platforms and then reformatting something that we can scale. You know we said hey you know we now about 40% of the pregnant population in the U.S. on our application we're using the data from those users to do real time analytics giving that information back to the users and they're changing their behavior based on that. So we really are able to practice kind of this population like medicine based upon putting the consumer at the middle and designing a solution around that user fundamentally and treating them as both the you know the payer the provider and the patient. And they've really been able to respond to that new way and we never do things to really unprecedented.

What a great example. And you know so was this the vision from the beginning? Did it evolve? Maybe you could walk us through the journey because that to me is very interesting.

Yeah. So we really started out with this vision of wanting to become the platform where women and family went to make their most important health and life decisions. We believe that to build a really meaningful engaging health care experience you need to go everything from what color do you paint your nursery and what are the hot baby names this year to is that symptom normal. And how do I avoid preamps here. Preterm birth and everything in between. So you know we started with a direct consumer applications became kind of the number one digital health brand for millennial moms. Build the database around it started using analytics to really understand what that data was telling us in a way that no one had ever been able to do before. Turn that into outcomes and results for our users which we then were able to take those outcomes and results and engagement and start working with payers and employers and provider organizations to help improve the outcomes for the users. But at the same time just have a completely delightful understandable experience for those users that they wanted to interact with everyday.

It's a stressful time and there's a lot of questions and you guys made yourself the friendly place to go and the users responded so you know as folks as we as we approach this topic of health care consumerism it's more than just a topic it's the reality right. I mean we're used to going onto Amazon, click and a couple of buttons, getting some recommendations on what we find relevant and the speed at which it all happens. It's just critical that we align to that in the health care space. And I love Paris's message here. Him and his team are doing this so definitely a lot to be learned from Paris's words of wisdom here. Paris how about the other side of things. Tell us when you had a setback something that didn't work out the way you wanted it to. What you learn and what you do differently as a result of that?

Yeah I mean a great example is from my first business could start genetics. You know we were really committed and really excited about how the next generation gene sequencing was going to change medicine. You know really revolutionized medicine this way when the first generation of gene even concerns were coming out right after the Human Genome had been sequenced for the first time and we were really scientifically incredibly motivated. And I think you know ultimately the mistake that we made was not going out and talked to enough doctors and realizing that although clinical accuracy was important and the technology was important there were other things that they wanted to do with their patients things around turnaround time things around out-of-pocket pay for patience insurance that were not going to be reimbursed for that direct to patient reporting on that we just missed. So we launch a test that was absolutely the gold standard in the market and continues to be today but didn't have some of these other features that folks came out and I think everyone would readmit this now that with a much lower quality test. But that had some of the features that really made as attractive in the market. And they were able to you know effectively compete with us whereas if we had both had the gold standard test as well as some of these features early on there would have been no way to compete with us. And that was a big lesson that I took on to Ovia and really thinking about you know making sure that we stayed cool really really close to our users really really close to the folks who are paying us. And you know it's not about what we want to sell them. It's about what they want to buy and really and making sure and what they want to use and really making sure that that we stay close to those folks and we're making the right decisions for them not just right decisions now based on the technology or based on other prevailing trends.

Man that's such a great call, Paris and what comes to mind is that not sure if you ever read the Blue Ocean Strategy?

I have not read that.

You haven't? It's a great one and he lays out a really cool Buyer Utility Map. So it takes you from start to end the buyer experience and then the six areas of utility and then just kind of plotting yourself on a map and it's really kind of thinking through this paradigm. The lesson that you learn and it's easy to say from the outside versus when you're in the trenches right. And so it's so cool to hear about your story what you've learned and now how you're applying it and the structure for those listening that at Paris it's Blue Ocean Strategy it's the buyer utility map. Put a link to it on a show notes but it is a concept that's cost companies billions of dollars and it's all the help companies help billions of people and make billions of dollars. What a great great thing to share.

Yes I mean I think absolutely resonates and that's still that's the next barrier with health care is for folks big health care companies to actually start designing things with the patient in mind not designing things that physicians will use for their patients not designing things that payers will use for their patients but actually designing things that patients want to use that also have utility for payers and providers. I think that's something that that's an approach that we've taken that shouldn't be novel. But isn't the health care system right now.

Yeah. Now that's super interesting and yeah you know you got to keep all of the constituents in play folks and Paris and his team know how to do that. They have a sweet spot for this. What would you say one of your proudest leadership experiences in health care has been to date Paris?

Yeah I mean I think I'm only a leader because I have a fantastic team behind me and I think the biggest milestone that we've celebrated so far and at the Ovia and something so huge pride in the accomplishment and also the team that it has allowed us to get there is to have over 10 million users. Right. So if you think about it there's 4 million births a year in the U.S.. We've been around for about six years. We have about two and a half years worth of all the births in the U.S. have used the Ovia platform to help them do the most important work that they do in their life that should start their family and to be able to have that big of an impact, to be able to help people during this time in their life really get better outcomes and make it easier. And how many lives were saved with our technology across those 10 million folks. It's just such a meaningful accomplishment for myself personally having started this with three other folks and you know been around a table to have that level of impact and have a team that's really dedicated to seeing that impact in the world. It's definitely my largest accomplishment as a leader.

That's awesome man. Congratulations. And for the listeners Paris that are either pregnant or act with your service.

Yes so you can you can go on to the App Store. We have three apps- Ovia Fertility, Ovia Pregnancy, Ovia Parenting. We also have solutions for providers, for payers, and for employers. So you know on the employers side we're really focused on improving the way that families are supported in the workforce. Well from the outcomes perspective as well as from the employee perspective when we love working with employers on it.

Love that. And from a provider perspective, you also have a solution?

We do. Yes so we're starting to work with provider organizations to really be a digital platform that providers are using to continually monitor their patients and to become relevant in their patients digital lives to improve outcomes and engagement with their provider.

Outstanding. You know folks this is a great example of just mastering what you offer and just offering it to all in our health care system. There's a lot of stakeholders. So whether you be a provider payer or a patient family there's definitely a way for you to take advantage of the solution that Ovia as put out there so appreciate you highlighting that parents. Tell us a little bit about an exciting project or focus that working out today?

Yeah I mean we're really really focused on building this employer and provider business right. The end goal is to obviously improve the way that families are supporting the workplace but at really surround our users with all of the resources they need whether it be their employer benefits their insurance benefits their providers where they can get access to all those resources inside of our application to really make a meaningful impact on their outcomes on their pinnacle outcomes as well. As you know making it as easy as possible to transition from employee to working parents successful working parent this is a transition that's incredibly hard in the U.S. for a variety of reasons. Hample from you know negative health outcomes because people are not getting guidance from care to workplaces that are well intentioned but don't necessarily have their benefits programs designed in a way that are easy to use or understand for the target population. So helping companies solve this and seeing what it means to our users when these things are solved is just absolutely tremendous the impact that we're able to have. And something are really really excited to continue. This is growing incredibly quickly will grow 200% this year because it's just you know I think obviously we have an amazing solution but a lot of it is just it's a huge issue out there and it's something that employers are realizing they can really do something meaningful in their employees lives during this incredibly high stress but really happy time. So they're seeing what we're doing and say I want to be part of it I want to be part of this movement.So

it's been really heartening to see that that outstanding parents and employers today are one of the largest economic stakeholders in this. So if you're an employer looking for a way to support your employees not a solution to think about. Kudos to you and your team my friend this is truly exciting and talk about just finding that tipping point where you're offering that value to patients and then also even to the payers whether it be employers or insurance companies. You've taught us a lot. I love to just summarize it together with you today. Let's. And you and I are building a medical leadership course and what it takes to be successful in the business of medicine today. It's the one on one of Paris and some of their. Some of us with you. I've got four questions. Lightning round style followed by a book that you recommend to the listeners. You ready?

Yeah.

All right. What's the best way to improve health care outcomes?

I think the best way and the lowest hanging fruit is just data right. Being able to actually deeply understand your users or your patients or your members or your employees in a data driven way that is replicable that is applicable across the entire population huge opportunity there that very very very few companies are actually taking advantage of.

Love that. What's the biggest mistake or pitfall to avoid. Make sure you deeply understand the user of your product or service and that you deeply understand the buyer of your product and service they may be the same person. But in healthcare a lot of times there are two different people and you need to design for both of those folks with a deep understanding of them.

Very wise. Folks listen because some good stuff. How do you stay relevant as an organization despite constant change?

I think that it kind of sets a little bit too far with the last answer. I think it's really understanding the user right. If you want to know where the market's going if you want to know what people are going to want next year five years from now ask them if you have that relationship built in and you have this kind of virtuous cycle where you are continuously learning about those folks who are using your product and buying your product. You're going to be able to stay ahead of where those needs are and you're going to be able to continue to iterate the product in line with what their desires are. And you know I think that is absolutely key in ensuring that you are up to date and doing what you need to be doing?

Love it.

What's one area of focus that should drive everything in a health care organization?

Yeah again I guess this is that refer.It's your users. As soon as you design something that you don't know the users are going to love you're gonna make a mistake and they got this great advice. When we when we first started doing digital product design someone said keep asking the question until you know what the answer is going to be because you've heard the same answer some times. I think if you if companies were going to go out and actually be able to do that you could avoid so many mistakes and so many billions that are wasted on products that no one wants or no one's ever going to use.

Love that. You know what your user wants. And is your user the one that buys it. Great message here Paris what would you say your favorite book that we'd add to the syllabus listener.

Yeah. So I'm going to be a little intriguing here and I'm actually going to talk about a podcast because this is a podcast so presumably you were both reading books. Podcasts are dancing to this how I built this which is an NPR podcast. Absolutely fantastic. They tell the stories of entrepreneurs who built huge companies like Patagonia or BMB and they talk about you know really a very I would argue simple customer understandings that these entrepreneurs came to that led to these gigantic companies. And I love it because it shows that you know this stuff doesn't have to be super complicated, it's folks just really digging in to customer, really understanding what their needs are, having some insights about the trends of where the world's going. You put those together and you're really able to build a huge company and I think you know being in health care and technology on this side there's so much we can learn from the pure tech folks on the other side and this is a great way to hear from some of the best entrepreneurs in the world and what they did to really build companies that we all use everyday.

Love that. What a great recommendation. Paris and you know as a podcaster, I'm a huge consumer of podcasts as well and I love that you made this recommendation. It's been recommended to me before but I've never actually listened to it. So I am now going to listen to the first episode today. Thanks to you .

Great.

Thank you very much. And listeners take a look at that too because it sounds amazing. Before we conclude Paris, this has been fun. If you could just share a closing thought and then the best place for the listeners to get in touch with you.

Yeah I mean in terms of closing thoughts I think this is the time to do it and health care there. You know it's the largest industry in the in the United States and things need to radically change over the next decade for it to be sustainable. It's that one thing that everyone in the country is going to use. At one point or another. And if you can figure something out we can really make a huge impact on people's lives in the way that you can. Any other industry and really together we can have a huge impact on the world and the way that people are living in it. So I really would encourage people I know it's really hard and it's slower and harder and sometimes it's like less and the other industries. But this is the place to be. And it's just getting started. We're just at the end of I think at the end of the first stage and that gets the really really exciting part. And health care and innovation therein. In terms of getting in touch with me, Paris Wallace you can find me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, I would love to answer any follow up questions. I'm sure more about what we're doing a lot of mentoring young entrepreneurs thinking about these these things or anyone who wants to talk about consumerism and health care. I would love to have that conversation with you.

Outstanding Paris, you gave me goosebumps with that closing thought. So a word of encouragement to all of us listening to this Paris thank you for spending time with us and looking forward to seeing more you take this company and the next ones that you get involved with in the future. Thanks so much for all you do.

So thanks so much for your time today I really appreciate it. Take care.

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 slow. 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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