Spring 2017 AFRL Commercialization Academy Series: E-Health Now
Kelly Xu, Vinayak (Vinny) Kumar, and Ram Prasad are the cofounders of E-Health Now, which brings high-quality healthcare to Chinese cancer patients by connecting them with reputable U.S. oncologists through virtual joint consultation and end-to-end in-person care. Its business partnerships give it direct access to a growing network of six prestigious U.S. hospitals, over 4 million affluent individuals in China, and Chinese hospitals, local doctor groups, and health insurance companies, providing a total population reach of 19 million in China. E-Health Now completed its pilot program, and is developing their full tech platform, with anticipated beta launch in August 2017.
Kelly Xu is the CEO of E-Health Now. She comes from a family of serial entrepreneurs. “I always knew that I wanted to create my own venture. After I graduated from university, I decided to get more of an institutional understanding of business development, as well as explore different industries, to see where my true passion lied before I dived into a specialized field,” Kelly said.
Kelly has two Master’s degrees, one in Business Administration from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and the other is in Finance from the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. She was very involved in entrepreneurship during her two years at Wharton. She served as executive board member of the Wharton Entrepreneurship Club. Kelly also organized the annual Wharton’s Startup Unconvention 2017 for alumni and student communities in Philadelphia and New York.
Kelly’s professional background is in corporate finance as related to media entertainment and healthcare in China, mainly developing joint venture investments with the Chinese government and a U.S. company operating in China. She comments, “While working on international projects and in health care consulting, I realized that I’m very passionate about the global health space, so I made the transition from the corporate finance and consulting world to global healthcare. I’m so glad that I have been able to work on E-Health Now since last year. I’m very passionate and committed to working on this venture to make high quality oncology care accessible to middle-class cancer patients in China.”
Vinayak (Vinny) Kumar is the Medical Lead at E-Health Now, bringing his expertise to the health tech startup on the clinical side, as well as the business side. Vinny is an M.B.A. student at Wharton Business School and a medical student at the University of Pennsylvania. Due to his passion for quality global healthcare, he was a founding member of a 501(c)(3) non-profit, a global health startup in Peru called Global Development Collaborative, which he has worked on for 8 years.
Ram Prasad is E-Health Now’s Technical Lead. He graduated from Louisiana State University with a Master’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering. He worked as a DevOps/Automation Engineer at Comcast. Now he works as a cloud systems engineer at Sungard Availability Services.
Ram’s expertise is in systems engineering and information technology. He’s also skilled in technical management, DevOps and Cloud Infrastructure. “I really wanted to understand the flow from development of proofs-of-concept for a technology and effectively transitioning those concepts to the business aspect of engineering, deployment, and commercialization. So, I started working with Kelly and Vinny”, Ram said.
Why did you create E-Health Now?
Kelly: Ram and I are from India and China, respectively. We’ve seen the global health industry firsthand, particularly in developing countries. As for myself, I have witnessed firsthand the frustration over the lack of high-quality and affordable oncology care in China.
Vinny was born in India, but moved to the U.S. early in life. He is currently finishing his MD/MBA from Penn. His father is an active researcher and clinical trial designer in the oncology space. Many friends and family members call from abroad regarding their cancer care. This experience has given Vinny the opportunity to observe the huge gap in high-quality and affordable oncology care in many countries.
We’re very passionate about making high-quality oncology care more accessible and affordable to the middle class of China. That’s our first step, but eventually our goal is to make a lasting impact in the global healthcare space.
Currently, 28% of the total cancer deaths worldwide are from China. In 2015, there were more than 2.8 million cancer deaths in China (Chen et al, 2016), compared to 2.2 million deaths in 2012, which then accounted for 26.9 per cent of the world’s total cancer deaths (Jing, 2014).
There were 4.2 million newly diagnosed cancer cases in 2015 (Chen et al, 2016), and 3.01M newly diagnosed cancer cases in 2010 (Chen et al, 2014). This is a 40% increase in cancer patients over the last 5 years.
How did your team meet?
Kelly: We all met at Philadelphia Startup Weekend in November 2016. I pitched an initial idea about how to make the healthcare space more affordable and accessible. Because of our passion to improve the healthcare space and complementary skill sets, Vinny, Ram, and I formed a team and worked heads-down for, like, 15 hours a day over three days in a dark room. We realized that the startup would be a lot of work, but we were committed, had the friendship, and worked well together.
Ram: Kelly managed all the financial aspects, Vinny managed all the medical research, and I managed the technical design and issues. It’s very hard to find that combination at a Startup Weekend.
Kelly: We made it to the finals of Startup Weekend. Unfortunately, we didn’t win the grand prize, but we got a lot of questions and secondary meetings afterwards. This gave use the opportunity to sit down and explain our business model with those who had more questions. Many of them have kept in touch, and that has been a great help along the way.
We were also selected for many startup incubators and accelerators after the event. The Venture Initiation Program accelerator at Wharton selects the five most promising companies across the Penn community. We were one of the five selected for the accelerator’s summer cohort. We were also selected to present at the Angel Venture Fair on May 5, 2017. Essentially, it’s an annual conference where 10 of the most promising university startups across the globe are selected to present.
How did you hear about the AFRL Commercialization Academy?
Kelly: I heard about it from a hallway conversation I had with a professor at Wharton, who taught an entrepreneur pitching class that I took during my first semester. She described the academy to me, and I thought it was super interesting. So, she made an introduction, and then I had a conversation with one of the leading people at the AFRL Commercialization academy. When the Spring 2017 cohort started, the academy invited us to join the group.
What are you excited about regarding the Spring 2017 AFRL Commercialization Academy Demo Day?
Kelly: Besides the connections and the network, it’s such a great thing to bridge the gap between private sector and public sector. One of the topics that we always discuss at every tech meetup is the connection between IP technology and commercialization. We believe this is the perfect program to bridge that gap, and make it a very clear objective in terms of commercializing the proprietary IP by top talent in the country. That’s a very great intention and aligns with our interests.
What kind of companies in the healthcare industry would you like to collaborate with?
We would love to collaborate with oncology, global health, and digital health companies. We know there are promising digital health startups that have been driving the Upstate New York economy in the past year. We would love to meet them as well.
We’d also like to recruit local talent in the Upstate New York startup community. We’re launching our platform in August 2017, so we’re looking to hire coders and people with healthcare experience, particularly in the hospital system.
You can delve deeper into E-Health Now’s efforts to change the current state of global oncology care. Meet Kelly, Vinny, and Ram at the Spring 2017 AFRL Commercialization Academy Demo Day on Thursday, June 29, 2017. Then watch them pitch to compete for the chance to win either the Judges’ Vote of $15,000 or the live Audience Vote of $5,000 at Mohawk Valley Community College’s new campus at 1101 Floyd Avenue, in Rome, New York!
Jing, L. (2014, February 7). China the Hardest Hit by Global Surge in Cancer, Says WHO Report. Retrieved from South China Morning Post: http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1422475/china-hardest-hit-global-surge-cancer-says-who-report
Chen, W., Zheng, R., Zhang, S., Zhao, P., Zeng, H., & Zou, X. (2014, July). Report of Cancer Incidence and Mortality in China, 2010 in Annals of Translational Medicine, 2(7), 61. Retrieved from National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4202458
Chen, W., Zheng, R., Baade, P. D., Zhang, S., Zeng, H., Bray, F., Jemal, A., Yu, X. Q. and He, J. (2016, January 25). Cancer Statistics in China, 2015 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 66: 115–132. Retrieved from Wiley Online Library: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.3322/caac.21338/full