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Improving Dental Care Outcomes with Cutting-edge AI
Episode

Florian Hillen, the founder and CEO of VideaHealth

 

Improving Dental Care Outcomes with Cutting-edge AI

Are you ready for AI-enhanced dental visits?

 

In this episode, we dive into the world of oral health with Florian Hillen, the founder and CEO of VideaHealth, who discusses his company’s role in revolutionizing dental care through AI technology. Florian shares how his passion for healthcare and AI came together to create VideaHealth, which uses FDA-approved algorithms to diagnose dental issues from X-rays during regular dental visits, improving accuracy and trust in dental care. He explains the importance of preventative dentistry in avoiding invasive procedures like root canals and highlights the connection between periodontal disease and broader health problems like heart disease. Despite initial regulatory challenges, Florian expresses enthusiasm for VideaHealth’s role in standardizing dental AI and the broader potential of AI in healthcare and energy.

Join us for an insightful conversation with Florian Hillen about how AI is making dental care more precise and accessible!

Improving Dental Care Outcomes with Cutting-edge AI

About Florian Hillen:

Florian Hillen is the founder and CEO of VideaHealth, an MIT spinout and leading dental-AI company working with leading DSOs, insurers, and other companies in the dental industry. Previously, he conducted research at the intersection of engineering and social science at MIT’s Institute for Data, Systems and Society and at Harvard Business School. He also worked for McKinsey & Company and founded Ninu, a digital health tech startup. He holds two master’s degrees from MIT in computer science and technology policy and a bachelor’s in management and technology. He completed the first German State exam in medicine, as well.

 

Outcomes Rocket Podcast_Florian Hillen: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

Outcomes Rocket Podcast_Florian Hillen: 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! Welcome back to the Outcomes Rocket Podcast to another great episode. We’ve been exploring the concept of oral health more lately and what exactly it means to your overall health. Today, we have a conversation with the amazing Florian Hillen. He’s the founder and CEO of VideaHealth, an MIT spin-out and leading dental company working with leading DSOs, that’s dental service organizations, insurers, and other companies in the dental industry. Previously, he conducted research at the intersection of engineering and social science at MIT’s Institute for Data Systems and Society, and at the Harvard Business School, he also worked for McKinsey & Company and founded Ninu, a digital health tech startup. So he’s really a fantastic gentleman, originally from Germany and now here with us in the US. Florian, such a pleasure to have you here with us on the podcast. Thanks for making the time.

Florian Hillen:
Thank you so much for having me, Saul. I’m very excited to be here.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, I’m excited too, and it’s for two reasons. We’re going to talk about AI. We’re going to talk about oral health and what it means to overall health. Before we do, though, I want to really ask you, what inspires your work in this business?

Florian Hillen:
Oh, wow. Nice question. I sometimes say this is my life, and that was what I was born for. Maybe that’s a little bit intense, but originally, I’m from Germany and actually studied medicine for six years. I dropped out just before my MD to found my first company, which was in gynecology. I deeply care about healthcare in general, and then I was a consultant at McKinsey, and I consulted a lot in different health domains, partially also insurance and dental space, so that was super interesting. And then third, I conducted research at MIT where I dived, dove deep into the technology. And honestly, all of these phases of life came together where, five years ago, when I founded Videa, became incredibly clear that this technology will be disruptive, and then at the end of the day, … it’s like, what do you want to do with your life? And I decided I want to have the maximum impact with cool and novel technology, and so AI was the cool and novel technology. I truly do believe that our work can have a huge impact because we can help every individual to a significant degree. We can avoid that the patient has, instead of a root canal or an extraction or an implant, they maybe just have a tooth surface filling because AI caught diseases earlier. So it’s significant in impact, and then we can have it to over 300 million patients every year in the US alone and over a billion in the entire world. So if you measure impact in terms of quality, but then also quantity, I think the impact every, of my team members in this company is doing is incredible, and it’s very hard to match. So that’s why I founded Videa.

Saul Marquez:
Hey, listen, I think it’s fantastic. Thanks for sharing your story. You start off as a physician, but you just couldn’t resist, right? You had to get in beyond the bedside. What can I do to make an impact? Look, now is the time AI is transforming the world. Quote from Andreasen, Software is eating the world. Well, it is eating away at healthcare more than ever, especially after COVID, and the adoption of technologies is huge. Tell us a little bit more. Help us unpack what VideaHealth does to really help the healthcare ecosystem.

Florian Hillen:
Yeah, absolutely. Just one correction. I actually dropped out of med school just before my MD.

Saul Marquez:
No, I get that. Yeah, yeah, yeah, and that’s cool. Hey, look, Zuckerberg didn’t finish school, right?

Florian Hillen:
Yeah, that’s right, that’s right. So I just wanted you to know. Honestly, with you, I think you can expand Andreessen Horowitz’s quote to AI will eat the world, so to say, and I think that’s what we are starting to see. What does VideaHealth do? We are the leading dental AI company automatically diagnosing and treatment planning dental disease in your regular dental visit. So you can imagine the, Saul, you are going through, your dental cleaning, or whatnot, they’re taking X-rays, our software automatically sources these X-rays. We have FDA-approved diagnostic algorithms, we detect cavities, periodontal disease, and showcases them through the dentist as well as to the patient. Now, what does that do? On the one side, we enable, together with the dentist, that the diagnosis is significantly more accurate. Like we, for instance, reduce the missed cavities by 43% while also reducing the errors, the mistakes by 15%, so that’s one aspect. On the other side, especially in dentistry, there’s always a little bit of suspicion of the patient. Do we really need that treatment plan? Is that needed? Should they get a second opinion? Well, now they’re getting an ad hoc second opinion by an FDA-approved algorithm, which is trained on 50 times as much data as a dentist sees in their lifetime right there, right then. So what it actually does, and we’ve been seeing this with all our customers, and we have over thousands of dentists using the platform right now or dental clinicians, also hygienists, etc, we are seeing that we can tremendously increase the case acceptance rate of the patients because we increase the trust in the office. That is really what we are doing. Now, to put this into the context of different types of AI, and we can go into all of this as deep as you’re interested in. There’s essentially there’s ranking AI, which is like Google or Netflix, right, recommending you TV shows. There is natural language processing, which is, for instance, your Alexa, What is the weather like today, or also ChatGPT. And then there’s computer vision, which is autonomous driving, or what we are doing, diagnostic algorithms based on dent imaging like X-rays. So this is really the domain we are in deeply.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, that’s fantastic, and thanks for segmenting these different things in AI. I’ve shared this in the past, a good mentor of mine, Chief Operating Officer at NuVasive at the time, Pat Miles, always told me the experts have the ability to give specialized segmentations, whether it’s golf, how a green works, or where a wine is from, or what AI is. The experts know how to explain these nuances, so thank you for segmenting that out for us. As you think about applications of your platform, talk to us about some of the wins you’ve been able to help, whether it’s providers or patients or both, achieve with your platform.

Florian Hillen:
Yeah, no, absolutely. I think what we are seeing is for dentists as well as for the hygienists, right? So we’re working with the dentists and the hygienists. We are enabling them to, on the one side, save time, because when they come in and they are like, they have so much to do, really. What our AI does, so it’s an AI-powered x-ray viewer, essentially, you can imagine that, so it prioritizes the x-ray images for the clinician. When they come in, they don’t spend time screening everything, they can focus on the areas which are really need to focus on, so we save time. And then number two, also, we help them in their busy day to not miss anything because we are all human versus the AI is not, and so that is really where the win-win comes in. So, the AI is never tired; it’s always the same performance. It is trained on massive amounts of data sets, which a dentist would never see themselves, but then, at the same time, the clinician has the entire patient information. He knows the patient, he can see the patient, he can talk to the patient, so quantitatively, he has much more information. So, the AI and the dentist together will come up with a much better diagnosis and treatment plan than either of them alone. So it’s a really supportive tool, that’s number two. And then number three, though, is really the patient. The patient, and I, by the way, was this Monday at the dental practice which uses AI. Everyone in my team goes through a dentist every six months, which uses AI, and it’s a phenomenal experience. So I would love to invite you to go to a dentist which uses AI. Where are you located?

Saul Marquez:
Actually, I was in San Diego. I’m in Puerto Rico now. You got any offices in Puerto Rico?

Florian Hillen:
San Diego, no problem. Puerto Rico, I don’t know.

Saul Marquez:
It is the US. It’s a US territory.

Florian Hillen:
We might do, to be honest, I just maybe don’t know yet. We have it in every state except Puerto Rico. I don’t know.

Saul Marquez:
Help me do some research, and if not, let’s get you introduced to some of the people out here.

Florian Hillen:
Exactly, but to come to the third value is really from the patient experience. You all had this, like they’re saying, hey, you have your decay, or yeah, you have a periodontal loss, and it’s like these gray X-rays where you’re not super sure. And again, I just happened, this, to me, on Monday, and you are just not super sure about this, not that you don’t trust them, but you just don’t see it. Now, what they can do is they switch on our AI and it’s FDA-approved algorithms, so there’s a third party which validated it, right? And so now our AI picks up the decay or, for instance, radiographic bone loss, we see exactly the millimeter of bone loss you have, different color coding. And it’s incredibly understanding, so the patients really love it. We did a survey where 93% of patients said they would rather go to a dentist which uses AI versus not, and so on. So it’s a, it’s an amazing quantifier for the patient, which is a win-win situation. Like going back to why we found a company, Saul, this is one of the few technologies where it’s a win-win. It’s a win for us as a company creator. It’s a win for the dentist because what they can do with this is they save time, but also, they can work treatment right then, right there, so they can do with the filling now and not the crown, maybe, in the future. And then for the patient as well, because honestly, for me, for instance, I get the filling now, and I rather want to get it now than, in two years, maybe a crown.

Saul Marquez:
Oh, yeah, that’s right.

Florian Hillen:
Exactly.

Saul Marquez:
Listen, I have heard stories. I would say that’s probably like on a scale of not severe to severe, probably in the middle because you don’t want a crown, and if you need a filling, you need to get it. But then there’s like the cases where some sort of, okay, you got to help me with this periodontal disease, right? Periodontal disease that leads to some crazy need for surgeries in another part of your body. Like the mouth is a gateway to all sorts of other body conditions, and we need to address that. So I love that you guys are taking care of the common basic needs, but can you speak to any findings that have been big like that?

Florian Hillen:
Yeah, I don’t know, let’s talk about that.

Saul Marquez:
I’m curious. I want to know.

Florian Hillen:
Ask me anything, honestly. I’ve lived and breathed this for five years, so it’s a great question. So first of all, I do believe like early, prevent history, which we could call it preventative dentistry is really relevant because what struck me when I was in med school, I learned that 15 years ago, that every root canal or every implant could be avoided if it would be treated early enough. Cancer, for instance, you can never avoid, at some point, it will just happen that our cells mutate with age. In dentistry, it’s not the case, you can actually prevent all the big treatments. So I think there’s a very big impact on identifying cavity periodontitis early and treat it. And by the way, half of us of adults have periodontal disease which is undiagnosed and unidentified, and half of those also have cavities which are undiagnosed and unidentified. So of the two of us, I was just at the dentist, so one of us.

Saul Marquez:
It’s probably me. I’d better get to the dentist. Guys, I got to get there.

Florian Hillen:
Tell them about us. Tell them about us.

Saul Marquez:
And they better have Videa, otherwise, I’m not showing up. Or I just need to call you when I’m there, so you could just set up a time with them to set them up.

Florian Hillen:
We had, funny enough, like we had so many inquiries from like friends and family where they don’t have Videa AI yet and they sent us the x-rays and we ran them. Super quick to your question because.

Florian Hillen:
I want to hear it. I want to hear it.

Florian Hillen:
So there’s a huge important topic about medical-dental integration. And so periodontal disease, gum disease, for instance, is highly correlated and also has a causal effect to hypertension, heart diseases, and diabetes. And so that is huge because how you can think about this, Saul, is periodontal disease, gum disease is bacteria in your brush, essentially, right? And all of this you have here, your arterial, your arterial fasciitis, and all of that, exactly. That is directly correlated and connected to your heart. So these bacteria go down, and so you see actually the causal effect between both, so it’s not just heart disease caused gum disease, it’s also gum disease can cause heart disease and diabetes. And so that is, by the way, why we are called VideaHealth. Videa means in Latin to see and to improve, and Health, overall health. So we do not believe that. Yeah, there’s something behind that. We don’t believe that we only help in treating dental disease. We do believe we can have a huge impact on overall health as well.

Saul Marquez:
Drop the mic, Florian. Drop the mic. That is good. And I love the vision because it’s big, right? And it does speak to that connection, that mind-body-mouth connection, that is really very real and the science proves it, right? The connections between all the things that you just mentioned. So appreciate you sharing that. One of the biggest things that we learn from is not our success, but our setbacks. Why don’t you talk to us about one in particular that stands out and that you’ve learned the most from that’s really helped you get to where you are?

Florian Hillen:
Oh, wow, there’s so many. I can tell you, maybe just chronologically, the first big setback was, so I graduated from MIT, I did a lot of research in that domain, so I published papers and stuff, and I dropped out of my PhD. Again, it’s a theme. And so I just raised the first $1 million, which was for me, coming from Germany, like, Wow, that’s so much money. And we are like, I hired the first four people, we are like five people in a free office of MIT in Boston, and we were like, okay, so let’s build this algorithm, and let’s get it cleared by the FDA. And so we had a call with the FDA, we prepared, we … put it into it three months, right, lots of work. And then, right at the beginning of the call, they said, Hey, by the way, we don’t have a dentist on staff yet, and we are not really sure how and when, and if we regulating dental AI. We are really focused right now on radiology, breast cancer, etc. And so that freaked us out because that meant at that point there was not a clear pathway of how we should get this FDA cleared, and we knew that it was important to be able to sell it and to be able to use it for patients and to be able to get the trust, right? So that was a tough one. And then what I learned from it, though, is, so we kept going, we believed in it. And also, to be honest, the FDA is an amazing regulatory body and so very rational, right? They are actually in the service of us, the citizens and patients, and so if you can give them enough evidence that this is actually improving patient care, they will work with you and help you. So we put together a lot of proposals, etc., how we can get this kit and why is this relevant, and put together preliminary studies and had a follow-up meeting and then they said, all right, like this plan seems legit, let’s do it this way. And then we even found a predicate device, etc., and they helped us with this, actually. So that was awesome, and I think what I’ve learned from it, and honestly, I applied this over and over, and I would encourage everyone in this audience to apply from that, but never accept a No, really, if you really believe in something.

Saul Marquez:
I love that. That’s such a great message, Florian. And to that note, one of the ones that I’ve heard is N O is actually if you’re in it, it’s K N O W. So you just need to get people the K and the and the W to Know, for that No to turn into a Yes.

Florian Hillen:
I think that’s how I wired my entire life. That’s why I wasn’t, that’s why I moved from Germany to US.

Saul Marquez:
Man, I love it. I think it’s so great. And by the way, I love stories like yours where you literally come to the US, and you say, You know what? I’ve got a vision, and you get after it. And some of the immigrant stories are the best, and so I’m excited for what you’re doing for the world with the work that you’re starting here in this country. And another innovative spot where it’s tackling oral health to get to overall health, so big kudos to you, too. As you think about what you’re most excited about, Florian, in the company, in today’s world, what would you say it is?

Florian Hillen:
Wow. Oh, man, that’s so much. Can I answer both?

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Give me both.

Florian Hillen:
The company, I’m most excited that I do believe I support the diagnosis and treatment planning in dentistry will become the standard of care in the next two years. I do believe that in two years, even in Puerto Rico, you are going to your dentist, and they will have our AI in there to just give you a second opinion. And I think it will free up the time and enable dental clinicians to spend more time on the patient-doctor and clinician relationship, so I’m extremely excited about it. Really, like so excited. I think the number two, I’m excited about everything else which is to come, which is all about automation of redundant tasks, back office stuff, …, claims submission, notes, etc. Which again, we’ll just enable all this stuff in the dental practice to spend more time with the patient rather than sitting in a back office clicking through charts for an hour per patient, right? So super excited about that. Now, you asked me about the world. I’ve been, so to say, in AI domain for over ten years probably, and I’m honestly like super excited where all of this is going. I think with ChatGPT and all of that, I’m obviously a technology enthusiast, I truly do believe that there are huge opportunities in healthcare and energy in particular, where actually our AI systems will enable us to reach to new heights. Which also, we honestly really need, we need to figure out our energy problem. We need to figure out how to reduce healthcare costs. We need to figure out how to be more equitable for that across the entire society, and so I think right now is an incredible time for society. I’m so excited. I know, you know, this question, like, when would you have liked to live? I think right now is the time to live.

Saul Marquez:
Oh, man, I love that. That’s so great. And I couldn’t agree with you more, it is the time, now is the time. You all are looking to make an impact. This is the channel you need to keep listening to because we got guys like Florian lighting it up. I would tell you, Florian, do not drop the mic. Keep that mic close to your mouth, and you keep talking about what we have to do, because we got a lot of work to do, and I’m glad you’re behind this company doing it. Look, before we conclude, I’d love to just recognize you for the work that you’ve done and also give you a chance to share a closing thought for the listeners before we conclude and best place they could get in touch with you.

Florian Hillen:
Yeah, I think closing thoughts, obviously, if you’re in healthcare or even in dentistry, I would love for you to reach out, give you, give us feedback, give us ideas, thoughts. We always look for collaborators, and so everyone can reach out on the www.Videa.ai, V I D E A. And then closing thoughts for everyone who is listening is, I think it’s a scary time to some extent as well, with all the change which is happening. And I think sometimes it’s good to take a step back and see, is the change maybe even a good one and something we’re excited about and also see the opportunities in that, and try it out. And I think people will see that we will live in a better future.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, no, I love that. Florian, thank you so much for that closing thought. And folks, you could go visit Florian and his team, Videa.ai, or your local dentist. They’re very much likely to have the platform there.

Florian Hillen:
That’s right.

Saul Marquez:
And if not, ask for it because they should.

Florian Hillen:
You should get a second opinion, 100%, Saul, that makes sense.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, so second opinions if you’re curious, because by the way, like who hasn’t gone and questioned, Do I really need that? I know I’ve sat in the chair and said, Do I really need that? And so if you’ve had that thought, maybe you’re listening to this podcast while you’re getting mouthwork, check out the show notes, click, and take some action. Now, Florian, this has been great. I definitely will be keeping up with you and your company, so appreciate you visiting with us.

Florian Hillen:
Thank you so much, Saul.

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Things You’ll Learn:

  • AI has the power to make a significant impact on healthcare, improving accuracy and reducing errors. 
  • VideaHealth’s AI has reduced missed cavities by 43% and increased patient trust in treatment plans.
  • The combination of human expertise and AI gives both clinicians and patients a more comprehensive understanding of dental health, leading to better treatment outcomes.
  • Preventative dentistry allows for early identification and treatment of dental issues, having the potential to prevent more invasive procedures. 
  • AI’s role extends to automating redundant tasks in dental practices, enabling clinicians to allocate more time to patient care and improving overall efficiency.
  • Innovative technology is revolutionizing the dental industry by automatically diagnosing and planning treatments for dental diseases during regular dental visits.

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