Interview with Matt Sinderbrand
is committed to unlocking the value of complete health data by empowering the only stakeholder with access to all of their health information: you, the consumer.
Hi Matt! Could you please introduce Betterpath and how, over the past decade, the Consumer-directed Exchange was developed?
If data is the new oil, Betterpath is the refinery.
Over the last five years, my company has built and launched technologies designed to solve two problems. First getting medical records out of their silos, and the second is making the data in those records machine readable.
Our goal from the outset was to use comprehensive longitudinal medical information about chronic disease patients to predict long term treatment outcomes based on cost. When we started on this we thought big data was the answer, we learned quickly that was not the case, big data is crude, messy, unrefined and what it essentially needs is to be extracted from its current state into vehicles of value.
Our goal with consumer directed exchange is to motivate people to capture collect and maintain their long term health history and authorize its use for research and commercial purposes.
We believe this is the only way to move the health system forward from the institutionalized acute care setting into a more holistic long term outlook that's required in order to create rigorous scientific research that will enable us to learn what treatments work best for whom when and why.
Who have been some of the biggest partners of Betterhealth? Have you partnered with any medical institutions, for example?
As an entrepreneur working in digital health, you have to orchestrate partnerships in order to move your project from fledgling to functional.
Healthcare is notoriously institutionalized and maintains the status quo wherever it can. It's really refreshing to find other people quote-unquote crazy enough to believe that your idea is worth pursuing and, essentially the right role to enable you to do your pilot project or to give you access to the populations you need to conduct the research you want to pull off.
For me finding partners for Betterpath has been rather easy in recent times. Really we have quite simple pitch right. Get all the medical information in one place and make it accessible for research for commercial purposes.
So now we're going out and finding partnerships with other companies who are essentially look-alikes to ours and a company that is going out and helping individual patients collect and control their medical records and authorize their use. This is really who we seek to partner with and the goal is to create almost a cooperative approach that will allow all of these companies come together under a single critical mass and essentially upend the current data brokerage cycle that is essentially done in the dark. We believe that when enough people have participated in this critical mass that we're going to be able to orchestrate data products that are better than the standard right now and it all comes down to motivating people to care about their health data. So talk to us.
What have been some of the biggest technical hurdles throughout the development process of Betterhealth? How did you overcome these challenges?
People ask about Betterpath technology, my answer is usually it's not about the technology, and you know, people get tired of hearing that but I'm going to keep reiterating it because I truly believe that you know, for us to be successful, it's more an activity of human behavior modification than it is any fancy technology.
The tech that we built over the last four years is rather gross, I would say. We essentially go to the lowest common denominator of the health system when it comes to medical record retrieval and normalization of the data that is located in those medical records.
The challenge really is getting access to the raw information we need but to get that information out in an addressable format, this requires a significant amount of human effort, there's no way to replace that. So the biggest challenges for us were always based in human behavior.
We invented these technologies to capture and structure medical data from any format into a set of concepts that could be fed into a machine learning pipeline and actually create a longitudinal view of what's going on with this individual patient and what's going on with certain cohorts of patients based on their treatment. What we didn't realize is that the only way to get access to that raw information was to go directly through the individual consumer. So the only one who knows where they've sought care and the only one who has the ability to grant us access and authorize us to use that data in an ongoing way. That's why we feel it's it's incumbent upon us to compensate them for that access and use it almost pay them as if they're doing a job, so the technical hurdles are really nil.
What we need to do is figure out how to get people to care.
What has been the response from the medical community regarding BetterHSA?
So having been involved in many direct consumer efforts in digital health you recognize that a lot of the barriers towards people adopting your technology and connecting their medical information into a repository. These barriers are based in trust and so we came up with the savings account as a way to massage that trust. And essentially, we believe that since consumers are already familiar with managing their finances through a mobile app that we want to use that familiarity to take the consumer and really enable them to collect and contribute their health data, almost as if they would a financial asset, so we believe the savings account presents an opportunity for consumers to invest their data into different research initiatives, or commercial activities. And because of financial mechanics of the savings account allow individuals to create these investment opportunities for themselves, we really believe that it's kind of a perfect marriage of health and wealth and because we are focused on enabling consumers to control their health data as an asset, we believe that this modality that we've built through the savings account really does create that opportunity.
Now the medical community has responded favorably but the financial community has been a much bigger fans of this idea. And so we're beginning to talk with different banks and different financial institutions around what it looks like to launch the better HSA within their populations.
What's next for your work with Betterpath? What are the main projects, partnerships and services you'll be focusing on throughout 2019?
Betterpath has a number of longer-term initiatives speeding up right now, but it's our savings account or consumer-directed exchange, a lot of these longer-term things are really in the moonshot category. Throughout 2019, my goal is to take the accumulated knowledge and technologies that we've built over the last four years and enable other companies to access this wisdom essentially to shorten their timeline from the discovery phase which is oh shit! How do we get these medical records out of their silos and make the machine-readable? to actually utilizing that information in a relevant way.
We believe the only way to get towards this golden scenario where all patients are in control of their complete medical record is to enable other companies to support that goal and luckily for us, we've been around long enough to watch kind of the second wave of these medical data autonomy initiatives come to the fore.
This time they haven't had the word blockade attached to them and that's all well and good. We're not so concerned with the technology piece as we are with the user acquisition and more importantly data acquisition piece.
So our goal throughout 2019 is to partner with these other companies that are enabling consumers to capture and control their medical data by enabling these companies to access our technologies that we so painstakingly built over the last four to five years.