As a blogger and generally curious person on the loose in the streets of NYC, I have the opportunity to bump into interesting people doing interesting things in the Alley. For me, the most important question to ask is why.
Here’s my interview with the founders of digital health startup and Zahn Innovation Center member Nexhealth -a company focused on care communication and coordination and, above all, changing the healthcare experience.
- What is Nexhealth? How did you come up with that name?
Nexhealth is a platform for doctors and patients to stay connected outside of the clinic. Doctors prescribe patients the Nexhealth app so that patients can track their condition progress, learn about their condition, gain feedback and stay motivated. Nexhealth analyzes all of the data and sends it to the patient’s doctor. This ultimately allows doctors and their care teams to gain a better picture of their patients, and for patients to stay motivated and engaged. When choosing the name we wanted something that would sound friendly and cool, but at the same time carry the company’s vision. “Nex” is a shorter version of the Latin word “nexus,” which means “a connection or series of connections linking two or more things.” In fact, our company slogan is “connecting patients and doctors beyond the clinic.”
- Why was it started?
Nexhealth was started simply because we saw the need for it. However, we can pinpoint the exact moment of insight at a clinic in Brooklyn, where our CEO, Alamin Uddin, was shadowing a physician. The second patient he ever saw, who we’ll call “Jay”, was a patient his age that was chronically ill with diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Alamin was in complete shock. One of Jay’s main issues was that he found it difficult to keep up with necessary lifestyle changes and his doctor had no way of knowing whether he was keeping up with his conditions when he was not inside the clinic. During the visit, the doctor counseled Jay in a fatherly-football-coach manner for him to keep up with his diet, exercise, glucose and medication. Jay’s only objection was that there was no way for him to keep up with all of his lifestyle changes. In addition to this, the doctor had to cut the visit with Jay short only twenty minutes into the visit because he had another patient waiting. Twenty minutes is not adequate time to fully convey the doctor’s message, counsel the patient, explain all of his complications and conduct routine physical checkups. After seeing Jay, the doctor told Alamin that if Jay didn’t keep up with his condition, the results could potentially be fatal. However, Jay’s next visit was scheduled 3 months away. So in between these 3 months, Jay was pretty much left alone to deal with his condition. By not keeping up, he could land himself in an emergency room in very serious condition. This shocking experience led to Nexhealth.
- Why is it different from other products out there?
The difference between competitors and us is that we’re not just a fitness app or a remote monitoring tool. We’re a platform company that provides doctors and patients a virtual platform to stay connected outside of the clinic. It is up to the physician and the patient to utilize the platform however they see fit. At Nexhealth, we realize that one size does not fit all, especially when it comes to chronically ill patients, so we leave our platform open for doctors and patients. The doctor will decide what is best for his patient, and the patient will decide what his best for them. We’re not just an app. We’re a healthcare solution.
- How has being a NYC/Harlem-based company affected the way you work and the way the company sees its role in changing healthcare?
Being in NYC has been a blessing. Almost every major healthcare institution is in NYC. There are big players here. However, NYC is also unique in its diversity. There are all sorts of patients here, patients from really underserved communities to really upscale communities, patients with diverse ethnic backgrounds, patients who are new immigrants and patients whose families have lived here for generations. Being in NYC has taught us how to serve our users the best way possible and we think an open platform is the best way to serve them.
- Tell me a little bit about your backgrounds and your interests.
We have eight people in the company. It started off with only two people and has rapidly grown. However, part of Nexhealth is not only the programmers and the executives, but also the hospitals and clinics involved with us in bringing this solution to the people that really need it. Saint Barnabas Hospital is currently piloting our service with its patients and giving us feedback on how to best improve our software to serve a diverse group of patients. A private clinic is also using Nexhealth to stay engaged with their patients. With an array of feedback, our iteration cycle is fast paced. We have four programmers on our team with a multitude of experience in app development and cloud based software, and we are all NYC students, two from CCNY and two from Queens College. Our CEO and officers are also all from the City College of New York, ranging from medical students at Sophie Davis to our engineers. Our board of directors and investors hail from healthcare corporations to hospital administrators who all see where the future of healthcare is headed. Not only do we want to connect patients and doctors, we also want to revolutionize healthcare to make it more fluid, connected, interoperable, simple and secure.
- Tell me some of your healthcare and entrepreneurial mantras. Who do you admire?
Our goal at Nexhealth is not just to be another boring healthcare company. We want to bring the sexiness of entrepreneurship to this field, where others like us will come in and help innovate. We don’t only take inspiration from healthcare executives or healthcare thought leaders. We take inspiration from anyone, from Pablo Picasso to Elon Musk. We want to change the world but we also want to keep it simple. We believe the best healthcare is simple healthcare.
- What’s next for Nexhealth?
At Nexhealth, we want to impact everyone’s life. We want to rapidly build a more connected healthcare system. Besides our current partners, we are looking to work with interested corporations to help reduce ballooning healthcare costs and also because many people derive health benefits from their employers. Our goal is to lead healthcare connectedness and engagement via technological insight. Nexhealth, in the future, is planning on building software based off of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Things at the company are moving rapidly and Alamin and another co-founder will be taking the next semester off to fully work on the company, something they are really excited about.