Ep. #977 - AI in Health Tech
In today’s episode of Startup Hustle, we’re tackling AI in health tech and its implications on healthcare. Lauren Conaway and Navid Alipour give us a behind-the-scenes on what’s going on with AI and machine learning in healthcare. Our guest, the founder and CEO of AI Med Global, also talks about building a business using passion.
Covered In This Episode
The tech scene is pushing the limits of healthcare further. Emerging technologies like machine learning and AI in health tech are now becoming key players in detecting breast cancer and heart disease.
So what changes are brought about by these advancements? Are there regulations that help draw the line between privacy and tech? What does the future look like for healthcare?
Discover the nitty gritty of AI in health tech in this episode.
- Navid Alipour shares his journey (01:20)
- What AI Med Global helps solve (02:28)
- How did AI Med Global start? (06:18)
- Using AI to detect mammogram results anomalies (09:03)
- Factors that create a variance in results (13:31)
- The future of health technology (17:19)
- Striking a balance between privacy and regulations (20:43)
- What are immortal cells? (23:08)
- Privacy, artificial intelligence, and machine learning—and its blurry lines (24:04)
- The Chaos Theory (28:06)
- Regulatory guidelines in the health space (29:33)
- The story behind Navid’s startups (32:52)
- Mapping out genomes to detect potential breast cancer patients (35:31)
- Advice for other health tech founders (37:53)
As we become more advanced, there’s this convergence of life science and software. Computers are getting more powerful. There’s more data to process and train the algorithms. As we get better and better, this convergence happens. That’s where true precision medicine comes from.– Navid Alipour
The more knowledge you and your technology are capable of with artificial intelligence and machine learning, the more information you are able to take in. The better insights and actionable data you have, the more lives you can save. But we also have to respect that right to privacy.– Lauren Conaway
There’s a reason they’re going after this. Whether it’s impacted them or their family, they have that urgency every day to get up and move even one day faster. By doing that, you’re going to impact someone’s life. So we’re an incredibly mission-driven team.– Navid Alipour
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Lauren Conaway 00:01
And we are back. Thank you for joining us for yet another episode of the Startup Hustle podcast. I’m your host, Lauren Conaway, founder and CEO of InnoveHER KC. And I would be remiss if I did not tell you about our amazing episode sponsor. Today’s episode of Startup Hustle is powered by FullScale.io. Full Scale knows that hiring software developers is difficult. And they can help you build a software team quickly and affordably. And they have a platform to help you manage that team and make it super, super easy. So definitely reach out to FullScale.io for your software development needs. Now, let us talk about the order of the day. I am so excited to have you with us, Navid Alipour. He is the founder and CEO of AI Med Global and a leader within the AI space, the healthcare space technology space. We just have a really incredible individual here with us today. In fact, he was a top 50 honoree as a leader of influence in life science in San Diego by the San Diego Business Journal, which I think is super impressive. But, Navid, I just want to say thank you so much for joining us today.
Navid Alipour 01:08
Lauren, thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here with you.
Lauren Conaway 01:11
Oh, good. I’m so glad we’re gonna have some fun. But we’re gonna kick it off, right? And I’m just gonna ask you, Navid, to tell us about your journey.
Navid Alipour 01:20
My journey? You know, I like to joke that my wife and I are the black sheep of the family.
Lauren Conaway 01:27
And the reason I say that, you know, we’re gonna have to drill down on that, right?
Navid Alipour 01:30
We got to get into it. And it gets to what we do today. I met global people on the healthcare front. So my father’s a retired cardiologist. Both my brothers are doctors; her dad is a doctor; her stepdad, her sister, and we’re the two that went the path of business and law. But healthcare has been in my DNA, you know, in my family and upbringing. And I have the utmost respect for doctors and what they do to, you know, help prolong lives and save lives. Whatever disease or ailment any of us have at that moment in need. So that’s where, you know, it brings me to what we do here at AI Med Global, which is the umbrella company for the two companies. I co-founded Cure Metrics and Cure Match, where we help with our women’s suite products. We help detect breast cancer and heart disease from the same mammogram, which of course, I will talk about. It’s, you know, to the tune of 99% accuracy when it comes to breast cancer.
Lauren Conaway 02:30
So wait a minute. So you’re actually solving two problems because I have to tell you, my friend, as a woman, mammograms are not fun. They’re not fun. And so you’re kind of killing two birds with one stone.
Navid Alipour 02:44
You hit the nail on the head, in fact, heart disease and not to take B little breast cancer by any means. Heart attacks and heart disease, it’s called the silent killer amongst women, and 65% die on that first heart attack completely, automatically never knowing they have heart disease.
Lauren Conaway 03:02
That’s right, because well, so this is something I’ve done a little studying up on. But for women, the symptoms actually present very, very differently, if at all, in women than they do in men. And for the longest time within the medical community. The male symptoms were kind of the default. And so women would seek medical attention and say I’m experiencing nausea, or I’m experiencing this effect. And it wasn’t recognized as a symptom of a heart attack. Is that right?
Navid Alipour 03:32
You’re so right about that. And with men, we tend to get good chest pain, shortness of breath, you go to the doctor, you know, they tell you how bad you’ve been eating and to exercise one of the poor ones. Now just getting all that statin reduces the risk of a cardiac event by 50 to 60%. But with being asymptomatic, they never know that heart disease until, unfortunately, potentially that first and last heart attack. So imagine if a woman goes to the age of 40 for her first mammogram and doesn’t know she has heart disease in the family. And from this mammogram, two for one, unfortunately, it’s not a comfortable procedure. You’re going through it anyway. But no new radiation, no new procedure, you also get a breast arterial calcification score, that’ll let you know that you may have heart disease developing early on and you know to go to your cardiologist now at the age of 40. Now that might be alarming and shocking for a 40-year-old that’s seemingly in good health. But that early warning that early detection is connected to decades of life. And so that’s where our cure metrics suite of products again, to prolong life and save lives, and as software and healthcare converging in San Diego, is really one of the epicenters of this convergence of software and life sciences. To prolong lives, we have to detect, treat and monitor so on our women’s side. Both products detect breast cancer and heart disease. And then on our decision support products a cure match. It’s for not just women. It’s for women, men, or children, unfortunately, that have cancer. And if a doctor wants to recommend a three-drug combination, there are literally over four and a half million combinations. So it’s beyond human cognition. And to process that, and that’s what we do, is it based on this patient’s specific molecular makeup of their cancer and all the drugs available? Here’s the recommended combination. And so that’s a decision support product, we then provide for them to oncologists to use in their decision making for the care and the treatment to provide for that cancer patient.
Lauren Conaway 05:42
Well, and just think, think about the increased positive outcomes of early detection. I mean, we all talk about, you know, anytime that there is a breast cancer awareness month or a health awareness, or I’m sorry a heart health awareness month, we always talk about that early detection. You know, and I mean, that’s why women do our self-exams and things like that. But can you talk to us a little bit about the kinds of outcomes you’ve seen, or I guess, the increased positive outcomes that you’ve seen as a result of this early detection? And then, I guess, recommended treatment options?
Navid Alipour 06:18
Yeah, no, I’d be happy to delve into that. So when we first started the company, you know, we came at this from an AI perspective first. Our data scientists are literally rocket scientists who have done work for NASA, JPL, and other institutions. And detecting what’s called anomalies in space weather, which I had no idea what that was. But it’s not detected early enough to reposition our defense satellites or telecom satellites. It can knock them out. And so they were able to help NASA get to 99% accuracy in detecting these anomalies in space weather. So when we met them out of UCSD, there was no business plan, no business product. They just said, Hey, where are these AI machine learning experts? Anywhere you can apply it to make a recommendation or prediction, forecast, or detect anomalies that don’t belong. There’s an opportunity to increase revenues, decrease costs, bring efficiencies, and we said, look, that’s great. We’re in San Diego, it’s a healthcare town. That’s a competitive advantage. What can we do in the healthcare space? And that’s where in the interest of time, we said, hey, can you detect breast cancer better than existing computer-assisted detection technologies? And very confidently said, yeah, we can do that. So we literally co-founded the company. And one of the first, of course, things we did was we went and talked to some of the top radiologists here in the country. And we got mammograms from, you know, top institutions. We detected breast cancer in some cases up to four years earlier than they did.
Lauren Conaway 07:51
Navid Alipour 07:55
Four years earlier. And so again, some breast cancers, some cancers, overall, whether prostate or breast or any cancer, some grow faster, they’re more aggressive, some grow slower. But that early detection is pivotal. And to detect it early on, the odds of survival are significantly higher in stages one or two, three, and four. And it costs much less the burden to the healthcare system, which, you know, constantly our healthcare costs keep rising. But to bring those costs down or to slow that down that rise. It’s a, it’s a, you know, hit two birds with one stone, we know we’d better care for the patient, and by detecting it earlier, and it costs much less, as well to the healthcare system overall. That, of course, at the end of the day, affects all our pocketbooks as we pay for health insurance every month.
Lauren Conaway 08:46
That’s absolutely incredible. And I mean, for years, what an achievement I can’t even see. I’m sure that you can extrapolate the data, I certainly can’t, but I can’t even imagine how many lives you have the potential to save with this technology. Now I want to talk about technology. So you have chosen artificial intelligence as a piece of your interface, and you were talking about, you know, you’re pulling in, you know, mammogram results and results. I mean, essentially, you kind of had to build a system from the ground up, and you had to teach your AI how to detect these things, how to find these anomalies. Talk to us a little bit about what I’m fascinated with.
Navid Alipour 09:31
And so, in the suite of artificial intelligence products that are different technologies, so many people at this point have heard of NLP natural language processing. So our Siri technology, obviously, is NLP AI. And many people have heard of machine learning, which is what we use on the cure metric side of the business. There’s also this notion that you know, the day He knows of the 21st century’s oil. Well, many people don’t know, but Venezuela actually has more oil than any country in the world. But they can’t get their act together to get it out of the ground and refine it and turn it into gasoline. So you can sit on the biggest, most valuable pile of data in the world. But if you can’t get it out of the ground and refine it, and clean it in a structured manner, to then get outputs out of it, it’s completely useless. And so, one thing we’ve excelled at is how to clean the data. So how those mammograms are collected and structured, at the end of the day, as you know, we hear about robots and AI taking over the world. We’re nowhere near that right now. You still have to train the algorithm. This is breast cancer. This is fatty necrosis. This is an implant, and this is calcification, and if you’re training it to detect breast cancer, everything else is noise. So our data scientists have to clean that to train the algorithm to detect just breast cancer. And then our other algorithm is the one we named cm NGO where you go to our cure metrics website, which the AI Med Global website also drives to that cm angio is the product of the AI tool that specifically detects calcification, so you do have to with machine learning training to exactly do what you want. And so, at some point, though, there’s a diminishing rate of return. If you say Navid, here’s another 10 million mammograms. Do you want them? Of course, the more, the better. But once we’re the level of accuracy we are, there’s that diminishing rate of return. Now, an AI tool that many people have not heard of, which is what we use on our cure, match side, is called KR, our AI, which stands for knowledge representation and reasoning. And where that’s different, it’s the same technology behind GPS essentially, okay, if you and I were in the same city, and we were to map one second after each other how to get to the airport, we’re not going to get the exact same results, because traffic patterns are always changing, right. And so that’s where machine learning doesn’t do that. It’s that knowledge representation and reasoning, in that input, and that curation of that use of that data engine and search engine that allows it to get more and more accurate. And so that’s why our co-founder, an amazing lady, her name is Dr. Kurzrock has KURZ rock, K rock. And if you look her up, you’ll find a ton of content on her truly being one of the top oncologists in the world. And being Canadian by birth, you know, she always said, you know, cancer is like a snowflake, and that no two snowflakes are ever the same. Cancers are never the same. So machine learning is not the best optimal AI product to recommend the best combination of drugs for that patient-specific cancer. Right, that’s where the KR, our AI, comes in, where we take that person’s specific NGS panel, and that stands for next-generation sequencing. Now, we don’t do that part. We don’t want to. There are labs that do that, public companies, private companies, where to the layperson, I say it’s like the 23andme of that person’s specific cancer, they take that, and they, unfortunately, already have cancer. It’s been detected in the biopsy, using predominantly aluminum machines, but there are other companies that make the machines as well. They will sequence it and produce their report that says, This is the molecular makeup of your cancer, whether it’s solid cancer or a blood cancer liquid biopsy.
Lauren Conaway 13:31
So it’s very individualized. I was gonna ask, like, one of the things that I know, you know, each human body is kind of like a snowflake or a fingerprint, you know, you’re never gonna see the same. And so you’re training over time, you’re training your systems, you’re training the AI to look for different densities of tissues and things like that. What are some of the other factors that can create variants?
Navid Alipour 13:55
So that’s a fantastic question. This is real precision medicine, true precision medicine. And the fact is that there really is no, let me take it a step back. And increasingly, it’s being said some more and more cancers shouldn’t be identified by the organ of the body, it’s found that it shouldn’t be really identified by the molecular structure. So that’s where, you know, Merck, a big pharma company has a fantastic drug called Keytruda. Well, Keytruda was initially meant for lung cancer patients, increasingly, it’s been found that it’s useful on other cancers. And so that goes to show that it’s not the organ it’s founded with the molecular makeup. So as we become more advanced in this convergence of life science and software, their computers are getting more powerful. There’s more data to process and to train the algorithms. And as we get better and better this convergence happens. That’s where true precision medicine comes from. And we say, well, why should this patient get the same treatment as the other when no two cancers are the same. So by getting their cancer biopsy sequenced by the labs that then produce that next generation sequencing panel, we can truly recommend the best combination based on the specific molecular makeup of that person’s cancer. And again, cancer is a nasty, nasty beast. We want to really make it more like diabetes or HIV where it’s not a death sentence anymore. And many people live with these diseases and ailments for decades. And so the goal to be realistic is to, as oncologists say, increase the PFS in the OS, the progression free survival, or the overall survival. So that’s really what we’re trying to do is to detect as early as possible, and then recommend the best combination of drugs as early as possible to then prolong that patient’s life, save that person’s life. You know, the PFS on iOS?
Lauren Conaway 16:05
What an absolutely powerful thing that you’re doing. I mean, I just, and I’m going to be perfectly honest with you, I do not know the numbers on this, and perhaps I should have, but I do know that heart disease and cancers and in particular breast cancer, you know, they’re they’re killers of so many, I don’t know, anybody who has not been touched by, if not one, it maybe even both of these of these very, very deadly conditions. And so I’m just so impressed by what you’re doing. Also, I’m gonna give you some props. Are you ready to be? Here it comes. I’m right. One of the things that you are excellent at, you’re very, you’re very good at explaining very dense topics. Clearly, you’re doing a great job. But I love the fact that you keep on breaking down the jargon, like I really appreciate that, you know, you’re like, hey, that’s what it stands for. And I’m like, Ah, thank you. That’s excellent. Because I was wondering. So thank you for that.
Navid Alipour 17:02
Lauren Conaway 17:04
All right. Well, so let me ask you this. I am very curious. You mentioned a couple of points that, you know, maybe our technology has not quite caught up to where we would like it to be or where we see it going. What do you see in the future, maybe even the near future for the evolution of your particular AI, or maybe even the technological landscape, the health tech landscape in the work that you’re doing?
Navid Alipour 17:33
So again, that opens up a rabbit hole, we can go down for hours.
Lauren Conaway 17:42
We’re not gonna hold you to any of it’s just like, let but I would love to hear it. Hear your thoughts.
Navid Alipour 17:49
So there’s, there’s two, two topics I’ll hit on there. One. The law is always behind technology, whether in healthcare or any other industry, technology advances first, and then the law catches up, whether it’s in cryptocurrencies and regulating it.
Lauren Conaway 18:08
Like right now, in crypto, it’s the Wild West cannabusiness, also Wild West, that’s not even necessarily technology. But yeah, law definitely has, it tends to need to catch up to societal sea change, which is what we’re talking about here.
Navid Alipour 18:24
So that’s one one area where, and again, this is never going to change, because technology is always going to advance faster. And then the law needs to catch up to, you know, whether to regulate or protect us or make sure that bad actors and bad apples don’t ruin the use of that technology. And so that’s one aspect that and by the way, the regulatory bodies, like the FDA are actually doing a fantastic job in accelerating the use of digital technologies, digital health and artificial intelligence, precision medicine, genomics, this convergence that’s happening there. They’re doing a very good job. I know, it’s easy to knock down government entities, but they’re moving very fast. On the other front in this, again, it’s healthcare, but it also ties into national security elements and other privacy components. There’s a balance to strike between privacy and population health. So in China, they don’t have any privacy. Right, and they will take all your information in the competitive advantage they may have long term if they have more data to process to train algorithms faster. Whether that’s for new healthcare technologies, or that’s the social credit score they have where, you know, you bought movie tickets, but you had, you know, three beers instead of two beers. You can’t go watch the movie, right? And that’s why they don’t want people to use cash. They want to track what you spend money on and, and so there’s a balance to strike. And I think what, you know, we need to always, you know, look to do here is what is that level of privacy versus population health? And do we get, you know, allow the person to the individual level to want to share that information? Or not. So if you come to me and are to say, you know, give us your data, your genetic information, and we want to use it for research to come up with new drugs and diseases, by the way, you have a variant for this, of course, the natural response is, well, yes, I want the salt because, you know, God forbid, I have this disease and, you know, 20 years, but then there’s other components of, of, you know, losing that our genomic information is, is gold, right? It’s, it’s, there should be ownership to that, to some degree of, then individuals benefiting from sharing their information. And that’s, that’s obviously, a whole, you know, different path to go down. But I think that’s where it’s exciting. And it’s scary, how fast we’re, we’re moving here, as, you know, computers get faster, the, you know, constant process, all that information and collected is, you know, accelerating. But then you have to strike that balance between privacy and, and of course, then, you know, the regulatory needs on the health care front to protect the populace at large.
Lauren Conaway 21:33
Absolutely. Well, so. So we’re gonna drill down on that in just a minute because this is leading me and I hope you’ll come with me on this journey. But this is leading me to a conversation that I don’t think we thought we were going to have, but I’m totally into it. I’m very excited. But first things first, I do. I am also excited about today’s today’s episode sponsor. Y’all know how much I love Full Scale. They are huge supporters of innovators. They’re an amazing technology company led by our Startup Hustle founder, Matt DeCoursey. But really what they do is they help people create technology. And they know that finding expert software developers can be really, really difficult, but it doesn’t have to be with Full Scale. When you visit FullScale.io You can build a software team quickly and affordably. They’re a knowledgeable team, they’re gonna hold your hand through every step in the process and make sure that you feel supported. You can use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs, and then see what available developers, testers, and leaders are ready to join your team. It is that easy. You can visit FullScale.io to learn more. Now, Navid, we’re gonna hop back into this conversation. So I’m gonna ask you. Have you ever read a book called The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks? I have not. Okay, so it is a fascinating, very well written journey, and it is about a woman named Henrietta Lacks. She was a sharecropper, I believe in 1930, she was a black female sharecropper. And she is actually responsible for what we call immortal cells, folks, cells that are able to replicate. And they are very useful in scientific application, because when the cells replicate, you can then manipulate them, and then you can test on them. And so Henrietta Lacks is the genesis of the immortal cells within the scientific community. And so the problem with this is her cells were taken from her without her consent, we’re talking about privacy, we’re talking about the autonomy of the body, and access to things like records, while Henrietta Lacks had none of that her family has not benefited from the billions of dollars that the pharma industry have made off of her cells. And it’s a huge controversy, and it’s a problem. And so I mentioned Henrietta Lacks, because I want to ask you about Navid. That was just a little bit of context. Yeah. But where, where do you find that line? We’re talking about the line between privacy and then knowledge, really, because the more knowledge you and your technology are capable of with artificial intelligence and machine learning, the more information you are able to take in the better insights and actionable data you have, the more the more lives you can save, really. But we also have to respect that right to privacy. And where do you think that line lives?
Navid Alipour 24:37
Wow, that is a great question. And I didn’t know the name. And I haven’t read that book. But I have heard of the story. It was in the news recently. Yeah.
Lauren Conaway 24:48
It’s a great book. It’s written by a woman named Rebecca Skloot, and she’s a journalist and she had she actually had to gain the family’s trust before they would even talk to her because they, they learned rightfully so feel as though they’ve been so screwed. by the system, you know, but if fascinating book, highly recommend it, but I apologize, I continue adding it to my list.
Navid Alipour 25:08
So I’ll definitely want to add that to my reading list. So I don’t think there’s a perfect answer or solution, I think it’s a balance, we need to continuously look to strike as a society. And there’s a law that passed, I think it was last year, it was called the 21st Century Cures Act. And so the Cures Act essentially says that we all own our own data. So if you contact your doctor and ask for your X ray, MRI, blood work mammogram, and they don’t give it to you, huge penalties, right, so we have that now it’s our data, whereas before, it was harder to access. And the benefit of that, and this opens up so many opportunities for entrepreneurs, to help deliver better health care, and also to monetize that data even better, where you and I could benefit from sharing our information. So if you chose to share your genetic profile, and that you had something very rare in that profile, that can be very valuable to a Pfizer or Merck or a biotech to develop a drug, well, you should get paid for that. And if they want to collect more X-rays or images, I do believe that they need to get to a point where the patient can be the individual, not the patient, you don’t have to be a patient. But there are opportunities to monetize our data. And at the end of the day, we’re software, our bodies, our genes, it’s software, and as we learn more and more about our bodies and our genome, it’s I think, the 21st century is, you know, the advancements are going to come in the healthcare space and encrypted increasingly, there’s a term called Wellness science, wellness science could be what we do, or wellness science can be you take this probiotic, because Lauren, this is specific to your genetic profile, and you know, you need more magnesium.
Lauren Conaway 27:18
This is going to help you regulate your, you know, gut flora, or whatever it is, yeah, like, but we’re responding very specifically to, to what is contained within you.
Navid Alipour 27:28
100%. So science fiction becomes a reality, right? And there are movies made on this front, but it’s a truly brave new world in some ways. And it’s scary. I mean, at one point, you know, then you need, you know, people with PhDs in AI ethics to, to then say, you know, is it right to clone someone?
Lauren Conaway 27:52
So I’m a huge Jurassic. I’m a dinosaur fan. Jurassic Park fan. One of the things that Ian Malcolm, you know, Jeff Goldblum is saying is that we were so busy thinking of whether we could we never stopped to think if we should.
Navid Alipour 28:08
Our weeks, and we love the Jurassic Park movies. And by the way, you remember that scene where he drops the water and asks Which direction?
Lauren Conaway 28:23
He’s trying to explain chaos theory.
Navid Alipour 28:26
So chaos, we use chaos theory and our algorithms to train them. And it truly is amazing. You know, what, like you you can’t you cannot you can guess there’s a probability which where the water’s gonna go, but at the end of the day, you don’t know.
Lauren Conaway 28:42
Well, yeah. And I mean, a huge part of your work must be like probability modeling and delay and all of that. But I mean, honestly, I have a huge smile on my face right now. Because I’m just like, hey, we get to geek out. I’m a huge science fan. I am absolutely a layperson. So again, thank you for explaining things so well as we go along. Now, all right, for the next question, we talked about ethics. And so I’m actually very, very curious. There are all kinds of ethics committees and ethics boards that form around these new industries. And in particular, I would imagine that health, you know, going back to that privacy thing, health is a is a huge part of that health tech, you know, trying to establish those guidelines, but not just that the social mores that establish what is right and what is good as we innovate or disrupt industry, right. So talk to us about what have you done, what work have you done and what work have you done? How have you established your own ethics and your own ethical paradigms? That’s the word I’m looking for.
Navid Alipour 29:54
Within the healthcare space, of course. There’s a lot of regulatory guidelines. And so we have to abide by all that whether it’s HIPAA privacy laws. So when you know a woman comes in for that mammogram, and whatever machine the hospital has, for example, it could be a G machine, a whole logic machine, a Fuji doesn’t matter. Our software sits on top of that machine that the imaging center hospital bought. And we’re 100% on Amazon’s cloud. So that image is anonymized, it’s encrypted, sent gets sent up to our AWS cloud and our machine learning algorithms do their magic and sends it back down all in on anonymizing encrypted. And so we’re very, very mindful of that. And we have our ISO 13 485 certificates, which, again, it’s necessary to do business in Europe, for example. So with Europe’s GDPR laws, they’re even more stringent. Right? And so, you know, we’re looking at what we’re doing at a global level. Of course, we focus where we are first here in the US, but cancer and heart disease certainly doesn’t know borders or boundaries, and neither do we. And so we’re looking at doing business to deliver better care at a global level. And we have our, for example, our clearance in Brazil, with our visa clearances, it’s the college equivalent of their FDA. So we abide by all the regulatory bodies and the rules in place to really value that person’s private health information. That’s paramount for us.
Lauren Conaway 31:35
Absolutely. Well, I really appreciate that. So one of the things that I and this is just something that I’ve heard, I actually have no first hand knowledge of it. But one of the things that I’ve heard is that med students, you’re you’re assigned a cadaver when you when you start, and one of the things they often have ceremonies to like introduce you to the cat cadaver and thank the individual for donating their body to science, thank you for allowing us to do this work with you. And that’s always really impressed me. So anytime I hear of a health tech startup are a health related endeavor, that prioritizes the humanity of the work, you know, it’s such a as, as you say, like you, you have a healthy respect for the people who are contributing and for the people that are building this game-changing life saving technology around. So I think that some thanks are due to you. I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge and honor that. Thank you. Very, very cool. Now talk to us. Talk to us a little bit more about the what’s the what’s the word, I keep on thinking tactically? And that’s not the word I’m looking for? What is the user experience, like the user side of both, both of your startups?
Navid Alipour 32:52
So a great, great question. So at the end of the day, we have to let me take a step back. We constantly remind ourselves that there’s a patient at the end of this, right, and that patient could be ourselves, it could be our loved ones. You know, statistically, one out of two men get cancer, one out of three women, heart disease is the number one cause of mortality in the world. And so, you know, these are the two top causes of death in the world. There’s a patient of theirs, and it’s going to be one of ourselves, our loved ones. With that said, we have to also then look at, you know, how are we going to get this to use to market faster. And the metric side, that’s you could say, it’s easier in the sense that, you know, it’s already built into our, you know, our ecosystem that, you know, a woman of a certain age comes in every year for a mammogram. So, that’s already being done. The imaging centers already have the machines, a radiologist or you know, that’s, that’s their job. But there’s a shortage of mammography ERRs and radiologists in the world and even in the US, although we’re better off than most places. But we want to get the technology in the hands of those doctors to then be able to deliver better care for their patients and their practice of medicine. Again, we’re providing the technology. It’s the doctor that has to practice medicine and has the license in that specific state to take care of that patient. On the cure match side of the business. We offer our report, which is a decision support tool for the oncologist. However, it’s, you know, on that part of the business, it’s kind of as Wayne Gretzky says, skate to where the puck is going. We can go work directly with an oncologist, we can work directly with the labs that are already doing the sequencing. We can work with the insurance companies and, you know, to require an NGS panel and a combination therapy report to say you know, why do you want us to pay for these drugs in this treatment? Why is it right for this patient? And of course, we have patients, they have cancer, they Google, they find us and they come to us directly. And then we ask them, of course, to put us in touch with our oncologist. So that we can get their next generation sequencing panel and use that as our input, again, to produce a report based on their specific genetic, molecular profile of their cancer. So we always look to include the doctor and the provider, because they’re the one that’s going to decide what treatment to give for that patient.
Lauren Conaway 35:33
Okay, so I do, I’m going to ask what I hope is a very, very quick question, but I’m just very curious. So we’re talking about mapping genomes. And so one of the things that I do know is that in breast cancer, there is a specific gene or gene, it’s the is it the BRCA, something like that very clear genetic marker that not only is it likely that you will eventually have breast cancer, but it is it’s an extreme likelihood, you’re gonna get it. And so often, you know, when women choose to have their genomic information mapped out, if they find that they have this gene, they’ll get it, they’ll get a MysTech. mastectomy, and it is just as a preventative measure. Now, my question is, as you are mapping for the individual, are you then able to inform the health profile of family members like children and genetically related people?
Navid Alipour 36:33
So the short answer is no.
Lauren Conaway 36:38
Just curious. It was just in my head?
Navid Alipour 36:41
No, it’s a good question, but not based on what we do, because we’re only we cater our report to that specific patient. Now, if they end up finding out that they have this gene, of course, then armed with that knowledge, their daughter, their sister, their cousin, or their half sister, right, can know that, hey, there is a risk that you have this and then you go in and get that genetic test done. In fact, someone very close to me did that very thing, because they had a, you know, a close relative that had breast cancer at an early age. And so they went and got the genomic test, and thankfully came back that, you know, they don’t have that. But that’s where knowledge is power. Not just for our own health, but the health of our family members and loved ones.
Lauren Conaway 37:32
Okay. Well, we’ll say so now I’m going to ask a little meatier, greedier question. And my question is, is it for the folks listening at home? I’m going to ask you as a health tech founder, what advice would you give to other health tech founders out there as they look to start building their businesses?
Navid Alipour 37:55
Up? Wow, there’s a lot to kind of peel back on the layers of the onion there, so to speak. I mean, all
Lauren Conaway 38:03
all of the like, honestly, because this is a topic that is so fraught with, like interesting avenues. I know, I’m asking you questions that are like, 20. Past.
Navid Alipour 38:12
It’s great. And I know, we have a limited amount of time, and I want to give you as much stuff.
Lauren Conaway 38:17
So far and you’re doing great.
Navid Alipour 38:21
Thank you. So I think the most important is that, of course, this is someone who has a personal, you know, skin in the game, there’s a reason they’re going after this, whether it’s impacted themselves or their family, they have that urgency every day, to get up and move even one day faster. Because by doing that, you’re going to impact someone’s life. So we’re an incredibly mission driven team. And every day, how can we do this one day faster, because someone will benefit from that. So just having that internal desire to do that is critical. Secondly, there are increasingly more and more ESG investors, right? Whether environmental, social governance, and, and there are, you know, more and more investors that want to make a social impact. They don’t just want to make a profit. They want to do good, whether it’s in the green energy space or in the healthcare space, you know, with us. And so I think it’s important to find the right investors, be they institutional or family office or individual, that it’s not just about making money, right? It’s like they want to make an impact. And, and thankfully, there are, you know, you know, more and more folks, I want to do this and you know, yeah, follow the money, unfortunately, is a big aspect of it. And, you know, healthcare represents 20% of the US economy. So there is obviously, you know, money to be made. If you can deliver Knology that can help people live longer and have a higher quality of life. But you gotta have that internal drive that you’re making an impact. You’re not just developing a, you know, delivering pizza faster app or a dating app or walking your dog app, like you’re talking about people’s lives.
Lauren Conaway 40:17
So do it fast and make sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons. Yeah, and I would like to add, you know, the Right Reasons piece, you know, I do not have a health tech startup, but I can tell you that as we all know, and as we talk about often on the show, entrepreneurship is hard. It’s really hard. You’re gonna have nights where you are screaming at the sky and white-knuckling it and, you know, can I pay my employees? And what’s the next step? There’s no roadmap, and it’s really difficult. So if you have that core of purpose, for me, at least, and I imagine it sounds like for you, as well, Navid. Like, that’s what gets me through, you know.
Navid Alipour 40:58
I read somewhere years ago, what’s the definition of an entrepreneur, and it was someone who was delusional.
Lauren Conaway 41:07
See, I was thinking you were gonna go, like, if they’re problem solvers, they’re gonna go that route. But that’s not where you went.
Navid Alipour 41:13
You have a certain era of delusion that you’re going to go against the grain and develop something that is not there or maybe isn’t required that it’s needed. And there are so many reasons to quit and go work a nine to five job and, you know, pocket and clock out. But if you’re a clock watcher, you know, you then are stamping.
Lauren Conaway 41:40
Saying like, don’t do this work, don’t do this work.
Navid Alipour 41:43
Right, and don’t work for it. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Lauren Conaway 41:47
There’s nothing wrong with doing something comfortable and getting that city paycheck.
Navid Alipour 41:53
For, you know, some people have that innate risk tolerance, and drive to do that. But if you don’t, that’s okay. My wife is not an entrepreneur, she does not want to take risks. And, you know, so many people just want the nine to five and sleep at night and, and have the weekend and go back to it on Monday. And that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Lauren Conaway 42:16
Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, that was fantastic. And now I’m about to ask you the human question. Okay. I’ve actually been thinking about this, and I’m gonna ask you a slightly more serious human question than I typically do. Because usually, they’re really dumb. But what I’m going to ask you is, if you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
Navid Alipour 42:38
Wow. I wasn’t doing this. You know, it’s funny that I say this because it’s so different from what I’m doing. But I’ve always thought it would be very fun to have a restaurant slash bar. And, you know, I like to interact.
Lauren Conaway 43:01
What type of cuisine, though?
Navid Alipour 43:05
I would have to say I would go just like your American Bistro. Right. So you have a wide selection for your guests.
Lauren Conaway 43:17
There’s a lot of flexibility in there, for sure. No, I love it. Because that leaves you with all kinds of avenues that you want.
Navid Alipour 43:24
And I think it gets like I like to have, like, you have given someone a good time. And you know, you’re impacting their life. Right. So I think there might not be in the healthcare sense. Maybe instead of helping detect heart disease, we might cause heart disease by selling them the cheese.
Lauren Conaway 43:43
Yeah, honestly, I think that would be a really good follow-up, though. Like you’re gonna hurt healthy options, right. I feel like that’s the thing that you would do. All right. Well, hey, Naveed, I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to chat with us. To explain a lot of things, my head is so full of knowledge. And I, I’m pretty sure that after we hop off this call, I’m gonna go down a Wikipedia rabbit hole and just do a whole bunch of Googling and learn a little bit more. And I just want to thank you for that. Thank you so much.
Navid Alipour 44:12
Well, thank you for having me, Lauren. It was a lot of fun. Thank you.
Lauren Conaway 44:14
Good, good. All right. Well, you know what else is a lot of fun, friends? I’m going to tell you: it is hiring software engineers, testers, or leaders. No, I’m just kidding. That’s not really that fun. So Full Scale can help take that off your plate. Full Scale has the people and the platform to help you build and manage a whole team of experts. When you visit FullScale.io, all you have to do is answer a few questions. And then your platform is going to match you up with fully vetted, highly experienced software engineers, testers, and leaders, and into an entire team at your disposal. At Full Scale, they specialize in building long-term teams that work only for you. You can learn more when you visit FullScale.io. And friends, I’m gonna go ahead and point you to Matt DeCoursey and Matt Watson are fearless leaders and fabulous founders. They have a whole how to build a tech business series. And I want you to keep an eye out for that. So definitely look that up wherever you listen to the podcast, wherever you’re listening right now. Keep an eye out for those episodes because it’s a really insightful look at how to build a tech business. Both Matt Watson and Matt DeCoursey have been very successful, so they are definitely the perfect people to listen to as friends. We are so grateful that you take the time out of your busy schedules to listen to us. We hope they get a lot out of it. Please give us feedback. Let us know how we’re doing. Feel free to offer up suggestions on topics that you want to hear about, but definitely keep coming back. We are very happy that you do, and we will catch you on the flip side.