Care When You Need It Most

Alexander Guastella, CEO of Quick’rCare

Care When You Need It Most

Leveraging on healthcare digital technology to solve major issues like physician shortage so they can focus on patients and give the best quality of care

Care When You Need It Most

Recommended Book:

Strategic IQ

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Care When You Need It Most with Alexander Guastella, CEO of Quick’rCare (transcribed by Sonix)

Welcome to the Outcomes Rocket podcast where we inspire collaborative thinking, improved outcomes, and business success with today’s most successful and inspiring healthcare leaders and influencers. And now your host, Saul Marquez.

Saul Marquez: And welcome back to the podcast. Saul Marquez here I have the excellent Alex Guastella. He’s the Founder and CEO of Quick’rCare, the intercepted digital platform that guides patients into immediate care facilities. Prior to founding Quick’rCare, he was a leader and advisor in startup organizations that ring a bell to your mind I’m sure, TytoCare, Medullan, Zocdoc and many more. Alex has also worked on strategies with healthcare organizations like Aetna, BlueCross, BlueShield, and HCA, to build technologies that positively impact the population. His passion is to solve the deepest issues in the current global healthcare system and he’s very involved with healthcare technology as an entrepreneur with 12 years of business development and technology deployment experience with providers and payers. He’s super passionate about fixing the terrible experience all people face when becoming a patient. And it’s truly a pleasure to have him on the podcast so that we could dive in further into this concept of consumerism and also improving the user interface of healthcare. So Alex, thanks so much for being with us today.

Alex Guastella: No, thank you for having me. So what is it that got you into the healthcare sector?

Alex Guastella: It was pretty simple I mean for me, I’ve always been intrigued with technology in general. Just ever since I was young, trying to create things, do whatever the case was. When I was in college I had the path of going to med school ended up ditching that as I helped start to build technology for health organizations. So I did that path and kind of set my focus on healthcare digital technology as opposed to being an actual healthcare provider.

Saul Marquez: Love it and you haven’t looked back since you’ve done some really cool work. What would you say, if you had to summarize it, what’s a hot topic that needs to be on every health leaders end and how are you and your team at Quick’rCare doing this?

Alex Guastella: You know I would say one is looking towards technology to solve some of the major issues like physician shortage or a nursing shortage. I don’t know if we can always believe that we have a lack there of professionals. I think sometimes we can say some technology can help solve that and then obviously some were maybe professionals if that makes sense. I think sometimes right now we go into especially a lot of health leaders if that makes sense. Kind of dive deep into, kind of the tried and true. We educate more we become more. But just because you educate more people to do something in healthcare it doesn’t always mean they’re good doctors or nurses or whatever the case is. So I think that if we can how have technology there to help us, it would really make organizations much less painful.

Saul Marquez: Yeah the power of tech. So how would you summarize what Quick’rCare does and provides, who do you guys provide it for, what value are you adding?

Alex Guastella: Yeah really we built a technology that helps the patient to star as opposed to just the health systems. So that’s why we really built it for when patient gets sick, they go online we actually find out that most people who have that kind of a critical patients but they’re more of an emergent emergency or an emergent type of patient. We’ll spend some around forty five minutes finding an immediate care facility or somebody to talk to like through telehealth or whatever the case is online, they’ll end up on seven different platforms to be able to compress that answer whether they should go to a facility or not. And so we’re really trying to really grasp the, grab the patient from that perspective and then guide them to the best facility. And that’s basically what we do.

Saul Marquez: It’s a frustrating process. The other day I was at my brother’s house and he’s just like “Man I’ve been trying to book an appointment with just to see a new primary care physician. And it’s taking me three days and it’s ridiculous like that” and it shouldn’t be that bad right.

Alex Guastella: No it shouldn’t. And this is a part of like what technologies in my prior life. We obviously help solve that issue there and they’ve done it. We and they have done an hour phenomenal job of being able to help start to solve that but I still go to new cities all the time or talking to people I’ve never heard of it. It’s the company that sees millions of patients a month. And so it’s crazy that that’s even a problem. But one of the things that very recently that I thought was was quite interesting or the study done that the millennial generation and I just want to caveat I am actually of millennial myself more on the older side but the millennial generation is a start of people who actually don’t go to the doctor in general for things like physicals and I actually think that’s where like telehealth will actually help maybe either replace or soothe where we can use telehealth as our general physician for everyday checkups or other cases and then we do see this kind of rise in urgent care, topping in the US specifically. And so I think that that’ll kind of be the like the bridge of the two right when you get really sick you end up in one of those types of facilities when you’re generally just trying to get your wellness visit or your updates or just give more information to your doctor. You know we can do it virtually and make it pretty painless.

Saul Marquez: Now a lot of things are changing in telemedicine you know.

Alex Guastella: Sure.

Saul Marquez: As having a chat with somebody else and we’re talking about how clunky it still is where if you’re licensed in one state, you can’t provide telemedicine in another state. Yes the US and it just kind of like we’ve got some work to do. And the fundamentals of the licensure and where you could provide practice but definitely some promising stuff there, what would you say Alex is an area or an example of how Quick’rCare is made a difference? Give us a success story.

Alex Guastella: One of our partners or health as measured believe that more customers and more partners which are our partners would be their health systems or urgent care providers. But one of them was having a big problem with kind of one over utilized facility centrally located in their area. And then the other three just weren’t getting enough patients and not just getting the patients, can they route those patients from either the downtown area that realized facility to the other and within just about six months we were able to see a 30% shift to two of the other facilities and actually were able to lower the wait time. And then one of their main facilities and it actually worked out really I mean within just six months. We do that do many algorithms on our end and really just kind of like visual marketing towards the patients so that they can make a better decision or a strategic decision. So you know they made up drive an extra two miles to get to a facility but they don’t wait right where if they go to this other one you’re gonna wait two hours and so that generally is a pretty big cause for a lot of hospitals really being able to kind of NSA track new patients and that’s always what people kind of think is the default but it’s really being able to look at a whole population and try to route patients to other underutilized facilities so that then doctors can focus on patients for a longer period time so they can get the best quality of care.

Saul Marquez: Super interesting approach there. So yeah I mean you take a look at yourself and you go to the physician if your provider’s guiding you to a place where you’re going to get better service better care, why not. And it’s oftentimes the invisible things that happen behind the scenes that really make a difference. So what would you say your organization’s doing right now to really kind of highlight those things right.

Alex Guastella: Yeah. So right now what we’re doing and we’re kind of in that growth phase where we’re trying to get more partners as quickly as possible. But you know one of the things that we’re doing is a lot of outreach on the patient side. So what are they doing online and then going to their specific target. So that’s like Facebook or whatever but then actually showing them more or less like ads that show them with the closest weights are when they’re sick even track them when they’re writing things on like Facebook or whatever that says “oh I’m not feeling well” we hope that we can at least deter them from making a bad decision either that bad decision being weighing too long or I always use kind of a weird situation. But you know I’m a big proponent of technology and healthcare twice now in two years. I try to use telehealth and gotten zero result and then not even told where to go afterwards. And I think that’s sometimes because when you’re sick, you’re hoping to get an answer and you can’t. So we’re really trying to find the patients that are doing that so that they at least have us as an option and that you know our goal is to that we don’t have to do as much educating I think over the next like three or four years our level of having to educate will drop drastically.

Saul Marquez: Now that’s super interesting and so you guys have been building, Alex. And so you’re building the company, you guys have made some strides, you still looking to grow some more. What would you say one of the setbacks you’ve had and what did you learn from it?

Alex Guastella: Yeah. So one of the biggest setbacks that we’ve have is I’m a big advocate for build it later. You know if that makes sense. So a lot of technology companies do that and I wouldn’t do it to you know do that have that strategy unless you know it really made sense and that’s kind of been our strategy. But what we have in the middle of this year had migrated to a whole new stack which has not been the most fun. So we haven’t had any issues with data or anything along those lines it just really getting acclimated into the new technolog,y watching it properly, and in built inside of that is we actually have proprietary technology that uses A.I. to take your symptoms as a patient as opposed to you making a decision up front but taking those symptoms and giving you a decision from an algorithm perspective works great from production perspective. We haven’t fully on live with that just because it’s been very hard at this point but we’re getting there and we’re just kind of working through it. And for us it’s kind of always being optimistic and from a sales perspective or a business perspective, we don’t sell that today or we actually we try to say it really expectations. So we don’t want to kind of promise the world and not be able to deliver.

Saul Marquez: Yeah. And so let’s dive deeper into that. So when you say build it later.

Alex Guastella: Sure.

Saul Marquez: What do you mean?

Alex Guastella: So if I just give you example to make it easier right. So our lifecycle as a company our first kind of like nine months or so of a platform was just a simple search directory for patients to find immediate care. So that’s we listed only urgent care facilities and emergency rooms and even community care facilities.

Saul Marquez: Gotcha.

Alex Guastella: So that’s all we did for a year and then we even when after about nine months that year to get on some early customers and we didn’t even have the software. So we saw a software platform to the hospitals that allows patients to hold their spot on line. We didn’t build it quite yet. We would go out and get a few partners we would actually give them the entire landscape of what the strategy is when we want to go live. We had about 10 customers or 10 early pilot customers. That’s all kind of commit. And then once that was we finished building the software, launched it, and allowed to go live. We primarily did you know I think in technology a lot of people do that. It’s a you don’t want to get into a waterfall situation where you’re building because you think people want it and then you go to launch and nobody wants and you’ve spent all this money and time. And so that’s one thing we didn’t want to have to do and we also didn’t want to have to go out and raise a lot of capital to kind of always be rethinking the wheel. And so we that was kind of our strategy. You know whether people liked that or not but that’s what we chose to do.

Saul Marquez: Yeah. No I love it man. I’m clear on it now. And I think it’s it’s definitely a smart way to go. You know if you build it they necessarily won’t come out. But if you sit around and you ask the right people, you meet them where they are, then you’ll figure out where you’re going to get traction and then you build it.

Alex Guastella: Oh absolutely. And we’ve seen that not just in healthcare but especially in consumer facing technologies from around the world. Lots of big investors will come in and invest in these in these founders. We saw a big one in healthcare about two years ago where they’re building this really cool little devices and then they never had any customers and they realize that commercialization is so much different in healthcare it’s much more price sensitive especially when it’s not fully covered by insurance and things like that. And so it’s you just lost 40 million dollars because of that and I get that you learn a lot of things through that aspect. I couldn’t put myself to have to cost investors if people didn’t want to buy it and say hey listen guys. No no don’t want buy what we have we have to completely pivot but we’ve only got half the amount of cash now at this point to the pivot. Now that’s a hard conversation.

Saul Marquez: Yeah for sure. So how about on the other side of the coin here Alex. What’s one of your proudest experiences to date with Quick’rCare?

Alex Guastella: Proudest moments, I mean being able to onboard people pretty quickly and get them to be successful. I mean that by not having a long cycle of employees having to kind of figure out what you know how the strategy works especially the sales side. And so we’ve done a really good job of interviewing you know we’re really strong on our interviews we do a lot of calls. I mean some people think it’s almost ridiculous at this point but you know we want to be as sure as we can. I don’t want to waste somebody else’s career as long as ours and our time and money. And so today if had we’ve been able to hire some really good people and they’ve been able to do deals or if they’re not in sales be able to kind of execute their jobs at that point very quickly and what we’re really excited about that.

Saul Marquez: Now that’s great. What would you say one of your most recommended interview tips is?

Alex Guastella: Don’t always ask the obvious right. So I don’t just ask like what would you do in this situation what would you do in this situation? So I think that’s a big and if action objective a saccharin that’s kind of caveats that ask things that are kind of like left field so you’re not always talking about what they do for work but seeing how they got to why they they do what they do. I think that’s really important especially in a startup because I don’t think in any really early stage startup, you’re going to ever find silver bullet type of candidates because you had those guys to cost a lot more. And at the end of day even those guys if you’ve got them on board may not work out because they’re used to certain luxuries. And so I think finding things like grit and perseverance and understanding are almost more important than just the skill set itself.

Saul Marquez: Love that. Yeah. You know one of one of the things that I look for when I hire is hunger. You can’t teach hunger.

Alex Guastella: No. And I always hate that. I hate to use my self, I’m definitely not somebody who likes to boast myself but I’ve always always been a very hungry person not just in terms of just making money which is obviously I’ve been more in the development side by just being successful. And I will say trying to have perfection. I don’t think you ever get to that point but always trying to learn more and do more right. And so I knew what it was like to have that in me. And I still do. And I kind of look for that as opposed to you know always talking to somebody that has all the expertise under the sun but no real drive to help us grow.

Saul Marquez: Love that man. Now a great tip and for all you folks listening looking for people, think this is some some great information that take on with you to make sure you get the right candidates in the right seats. Alex so this is great man. You guys seem to be doing some really interesting things here. You’re getting people funnel into the right care scenarios. You’re you’re helping providers really sift through the what could be a complex process of putting patients in the right place, putting them in the right place. What’s an exciting project that you’re working on?

Alex Guastella: Our biggest one right now is kind of are A.I tool that I kind of mentioned earlier for us that’s kind of our linchpin. We really believe that using A.I. technologies and not to use buzzwords and that’s what we do. We actually understand early have the team to understand it conceptually and from a production perspective. But being able to use certain things that help assist people so that you know I mentioned just just a few minutes ago about education in the industry. Urgent care is not that new of a method to get treatment but it’s also the widely misunderstood and in a way not a lot of people understand that they can go to an urgent care when they’re sick or what an E.R. does. I mean really I would just like we use the E.R. default as our mechanism but there’s really so many things that can happen for a patient. So we said if we can help guide a patient through A.I they don’t have to like educate themselves while they’re in that forty five minutes when they’re sick, we’ll just help them make that decision. So that right there, being kind of the assistant to the patient is really what we’re highly passionate about I think. Once we can release that we’re going to really be excited for the next next step of our company.

Saul Marquez: That’s awesome man. Well congratulations on that work. And it sounds like it’s definitely going to be a driver for what you guys do in the next chapter. Let’s pretend we’re building a medical leadership course on what it take to be successful in healthcare startups. It’s gonna be the one on one of Alex. We’re gonna write a syllabus. I’ve got five questions for you and we’ll follow that with your book recommendation to listeners. You ready?

Alex Guastella: Sure.

Saul Marquez: All right. What’s the best way to improve healthcare outcomes?

Alex Guastella: I really do believe listening to what the patient’s saying and doing before making a decision. So using technology to be able to capture all that so that the doctors can actually have all the information as opposed to just like board for surface value.

Saul Marquez: What’s the biggest mistake or pitfall to avoid?

Alex Guastella: This is actually a really good one. I’m not being humble or vulnerable and I say that because I preach it in every day, (1) every company should act as if they’re vulnerable because it actually makes you not just going to look over your shoulder but look at where you prefect and make you not be the expert but the always being the one trying to be educated and being humble. I think by being humble it really gives you the opportunity to not look at yourself but look at the company or your strategy as something much bigger than yourself.

Saul Marquez: That’s great man. And how do you stay relevant despite constant change?

Alex Guastella: I’m always reading up on everything. Every day I do a daily like 10 to 15 minute search of what’s going on. Everything comes through my RSS feeds but just to see what changes are going on in my prior life. We did our work with payers or was able to be in the payer industry for a little bit and understand kind of like what payer method of going to market is and on the opposite side and knowing what the Affordable Care Act does for a lot of people. So I think there is a lot of things that stem from our politics of healthcare that helped make those decisions. So I make sure I’m always keeping on the what’s going on and even interjecting and being a voice as much as I can. It keeps me at a point where I’m always kind of knowing what’s going on even if I’m not the full expert on it of course that I know that either a our core business doesn’t get affected or if there is a place where we could be affected that we know that we could have a pivot or whatever the case is.

Saul Marquez: Yeah for sure and what would you say one area of focus that drives your company is?

Alex Guastella: So I would say just understanding the patient mentality now that we’ve able to collect more data not even just through our own technology but through other technologies and understanding where what patients are doing not just when they’re sick but every day lives of their health or well-being. That’s something that we want to be the partner of for everybody. And we we hope that in the future where we can be much more respected on for that as per say any of the other technologies that we can build because that’s really true intelligence because I always use the phrase that every person is an expert in their own healthcare. And I think that we forgot that especially being in the medical industry that a person even though you’re giving them a diagnosis, they’re always, they feel like they’re somewhat of an expert at what they know what they’re feeling and then unless you could feel it. And so by technology we can capture something that we can capture it all of course. I mean let’s we, start to wire into people’s brains and understand their feelings. But I think if we get to you know good 50% of it I really do think that we build a better world of healthcare.

Saul Marquez: Love that. What would you say your number one success habit is?

Alex Guastella: I think by being able to take calculated rests there there’s those who believe you should always be working 24/7 and I’m not saying I don’t do that. I’m not saying I don’t have nine to five hours, I’m not working just Monday through Friday, but I do calculate myself to have rest or breaks. I have two little children and I’ve been married for over seven years now. Those are bigger accomplishments in my life than anything I can build or be part of. So I want to be be there and be part of that as well as being able to build the next great thing. So calculating those rest times myself and my family and so that we could at least rejuvenate ourselves when we need it.

Saul Marquez: That’s awesome man good for you to have that balance. And what would you say your book recommendation to listeners is?

Alex Guastella: There was a book I read it’s not one of them but the more famous books in the startup world. And there’s quite a few that people always reference and I get tired of there’s one called Strategic IQ. It’s actually a book that I read quite a few years ago at this point but I always think about it every now and I even chopping to look through some chapters I’m an. But it really helps you build kind of a more strategic thought process on everything you do and understand the difference between the size of your organization as opposed to bigger organizations right and how that certain skill sets or certain strategies between the two could really help each other and especially when you’re selling to a much larger organization or church yourself helps you really understand why it takes them so long to buy or implement or whatever the case is and how you can help kind of maneuver yourselves around. So I’ve read that, I went one time really really fully but I always reference it back and forth just cause I think there’s a lot of good in there.

Saul Marquez: Great recommendation Strategic IQ. Folks you know you could reach out on the web but just go to outcomesrocket.health and you’ll find the interview with Alex. Just type in quick’rcare into the search bar it’s quick’r with an apostrophe R, quick’rcare you’ll see that the entire transcript, the syllabus we just created for you as well as all the links to the awesome things that Alex has shared today will be there for you. Alex this has been a blast. I really have had a good time chat with you. I’d love if you could just share a closing thought with the listeners and then the best place where they could get in touch with you.

Alex Guastella: So I would say a closing thought as you know if you’re building a business or you’re looking at building something specifically in healthcare, I really do believe that no matter what you do you should think about the patient first before anybody else. Because even if you’re building something that’s better than to hospital corporations or care corporations everything that they do is for patients as well as on treatment. And so that should always be top of mind. So that really can help you develop a better outcome for yourself and for your company. And anybody could reach out to me. My corporate e-mail, it’s alex@quick’rcare.com.

Saul Marquez: Outstanding Alex. Hey, really appreciate you sharing your thoughts on this emergency care versus immediate care space and then how do we deal with the millennial generation that doesn’t spend time doing for the most part primary care visits. I think there’s a it’s a niche that’s worthwhile of your approaches and I’m excited to hear how you guys do with the A.I. algorithm when it comes out.

Alex Guastella: Yeah. Thank you very much.

Thanks for listening to the Outcomes Rocket podcast. Be sure to visit us on the web at www.outcomesrocket.com for the show notes, resources, inspiration, and so much more.

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