Interview with Michael Wasser
Founder & CEO @ BloomAPI

Bloom enables secure, cross-organizational communications which ensures key information is where it needs to be when it is needed without getting in the way of physicians. Since starting, Michael built a team of 6, raised $2.4M, and formed meaningful relationships with many large healthcare organizations including insurance, healthcare systems, and independent physician groups. He founded BloomAPI in 2015 after having written and launched its first open-source implementation in 2013.
Hi Michael! Could you please introduce BloomAPI and what led to your founding the company back in 2015? What did the first year of the company look like?
BloomAPI was founded back in 2015 and, it was back then, it was primarily focused on actually developer tools in healthcare. So, software developer tools and healthcare. We, from that, we learned a whole lot and, I think today we look completely different than we did back then. So, today we're, I'd say, we're mainly focused on communications and healthcare. So, things like Facebook Messenger or Slack or, other communication tools but, very specific to healthcare. Over the course of the last couple of years, we learned very rapidly from each iteration of our company and that, is sort of what we did primarily in the first year was, we signed a bunch people up. We just talked to them non-stop, learned from it, iterated throughout products and, started over again. But, we also were based in San Francisco back then. Today, we're based in Seattle so, it's pretty different, I'd say from what we look like today.
Of the services currently offered by Bloom, which was the most recent addition? What has been the response to BloomVideo?
So, the most recent addition has been a feature that we've called Teams. And, it's a little different than most other chat applications people are used to. So, in healthcare, there's a lot of cross organizational communication. So, I want to talk to the specialist down the street and, I'm a primary care doctor, I'm in a hospital and, I need to get the meds list from their primary care physician. So, there's a lot of cross communications between organizations that happen by fax today. And, the idea is that, with Teams, you can't, today send messages cross organizationally, you need to know who you're sending to. And, Team might be like, the record released department in a particular hospital. So, instead of needing to know specifically who you're reaching out to, you can say, Hey, I'm just going to reach the Records Department. Similarly, within a hospital let's say, there's a group of people where one person is on call. A Team is a way to send a message, Hey, you know, somebody is having a stroke, somebody from the neurology team who's on call, can you look at this? You send it to the Team, the neurology department, and they are self-organized so, that they can actually root the message directly back to a particular person. So, our video features, I'd say largely as a separate note, our video features are also very largely different than are, impactful rather to, a set of users that traditionally might like, they might wait a long time to send medical records. And, Video actually is then frequently used to say, Hey I'm just gonna look at the scan like, I don't have access to your system but, I want to look at your scan or, I want to do a face to face meeting with a patient in another hospital or, I'm going to do a face to face meeting with somebody that's in a rural area that doesn't have access to health care otherwise. So, there's been a lot of positive usage of a BloomVideo as well.
Who are the ideal clients/users of Bloom - hospitals, patients, independent practices, etc.? Who have been some of your biggest clients to date?
I'd say there's a lot of different types of health care users that actually are very meaningful to us today but, typically, it's the ones that will interact with a number of other physicians in their communities. So, we'll see a medical group maybe with 400 employees. Maybe it's a primary care group. They will actually then, invite other people in their neighborhood. So, the hospital down the street that managed insurance plan, that's in their region, the specialists all surrounding them. So, it's actually a lot of the time, it's these hub organizations that have the biggest impact on our community of physicians and actually then, make the whole network more valuable. So, you know, I think that, while they mean themselves may not always be like names you recognize. They'll put us into places, into hospitals and, big hospitals in all over the U.S., at this point in Texas and, New York, in California and you might say, Hey, you know, this individual practice works really closely with this big hospital system and then, all of a sudden, people in the hospital system are using it as well. So, I'd say, ideally, right now, we try to cater to the most or the people that are in a sense these hyper connectors and healthcare.
What has been the response from the medical community regarding Bloom? What are some of the most innovative ways the platform has been used?
So, I mean, I'd say, largely it's been a positive response from the medical community to our software. One of the most interesting use cases that I've come across and, meaningful to me as well, has been groups of neurologists in particular. So, in neurology every minute matters, especially if somebody is having a stroke. So, the hospitals will get notified of possible stroke patients inbound from an ambulance before, they even arrive. At the hospital, though, they'll do things like clearing off the CT table, preparing various teams, like the anesthesiology or, ICU or, anybody else that might possibly be involved in a particular procedure. So, once the patient is there things happen as fast as is possible. So, this is very highly dependent on communication. And, despite this, you would see that most organizations, in this area today, still communicate with phone calls, where they'll say something like, you know, it takes an average of two minutes and 38 seconds for me to tell somebody else about the case that's currently ongoing. Whereas, with Bloom Techs, what they'll do is, they'll just add the person to the conversation and, they'll have the whole history of what's already happened. So, we're seeing some pretty big impact in these high-velocity use cases and, those are some of the most interesting and potentially, the most impactful ways that, Bloom is being used today.
What's next for your work with BloomAPI? What are the main projects, partnerships, and tools will you be focusing on in 2019?
You know in 2019, I hope that we're going to be growing a lot of new functionality that, I don't think has existed in health care before. Mainly focused on larger organizations such as hospitals, hospital systems in general. There's a lot of cross organizational communications that happens today and, most communication tools that, to date, in a hospital setting have been more cumbersome than, they've been helpful. We think that, at this point, we've seen enough people using our application to feel that, it's no longer something where you'd say, Hey this is a burden on the workflow. This is something that genuinely helps everybody that's involved. And, we're going to be investing very heavily on getting into these larger organizations and, features and, functionalities that, I think are very specific to the larger organization. And, don't look like any communication features you've seen in other domains in the past. So, beyond that, I'd see more and more of these larger outsides of hospitals organizations. So, for example, communities of home health care organizations or, medical billers or, other organizations where there's a lot of cross cutting communications and, that's where I hope to see us grow the most in 2019.