Health Tech: Juan Jimenez On How AccurKardia’s Technology Can Make An Important Impact On Our Overall Wellness
An Interview With Dave Philistin
Understand the problem. There are too many companies and products built without a real problem in mind. While some are successful in launching their businesses this way, most do not succeed. I believe that in the long run, to build a sustainable and successful technology, you must solve for a clear problem. Go back to school and think about solving for “x.” You need to have an x to have a real solution.
In recent years, Big Tech has gotten a bad rep. But of course many tech companies are doing important work making monumental positive changes to society, health, and the environment. To highlight these, we started a new interview series about “Technology Making An Important Positive Social Impact”. We are interviewing leaders of tech companies who are creating or have created a tech product that is helping to make a positive change in people’s lives or the environment.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Juan C. Jimenez.
Juan is the Co-Founder and CEO of AccurKardia, a digital-first and software-only healthcare company focused on enabling a world in which a combination of smart devices, reliable and actionable data, and efficient clinical intervention can together improve medical outcomes and save lives. Prior to AccurKardia, Juan was President of one of the largest non-emergency medical transportation companies in the USA based in Puerto Rico. Juan started his career as an investment banking analyst and associate at Credit Suisse in New York. He has an MBA from Columbia Business School and BBA from the University of Puerto Rico.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory and how you grew up?
My childhood was very simple and warm with a solid support system that stemmed from my family, friends, and community. I grew up in the northwestern part of the island of Puerto Rico where life has a slower pace combined with a strong influence from family, including extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.) while at the same time being able to enjoy a tropical paradise setting. I truly have fond memories of my childhood, and for that I am grateful.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I would say it has to be having an in-depth experience across so many diverse sectors throughout my career. Working on all aspects of industries like investment banking, real estate investing, non-emergency medical transportation and now health care technology provide challenges and opportunities that helped me develop as a professional and has made me who I am today. The opportunity has been both exciting and rewarding.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I owe my success to my parents. I wouldn’t be in the position that I am in today without their full support and without the opportunities they were able to provide for me throughout my life. I have also been blessed with friends and mentors who have provided support throughout my life, but the most transcendental influence has come from my parents. Nowadays, I wouldn’t be able what I do without the unconditional support of my wife.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And being only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when? By Hillel
I learned this quote during an Ethics class in college. It struck me then because it summarized the way I envisioned life; it strikes me today because I realize I created a life where I live this way.
You are a successful business leader. Which three-character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Perseverance, accountability, and flexibility.
I believe these three traits have been an instrumental part of my career. In all phases of my career, I’ve had to live each one of these traits. Today, as an early-stage co-founder, I need to demonstrate these traits more than ever before. It would be nearly impossible to build a transformational company without relentless perseverance towards achieving your goals, undisputed accountability to your investors, co-founders, teammates, and clients, all while being flexible enough to adjust course when external factors require you to do so.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about the tech tools that you are helping to create that can make a positive impact on our wellness. To begin, which particular problems are you aiming to solve?
We live in a world where cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death globally. It takes nearly 18 million lives globally on an annual basis. More than four out of five CVD related deaths are due to heart attacks and strokes, and a third of these are of people under the age of 70. Electrocardiograms, commonly known as ECGs, record the heart electrical signals, and is one of the primary tools used to detect CVD’s and monitor heart health. Not so long ago to be able to get one of these ECG readings one had no choice but to go to a hospital or at a minimum to a cardiologist’s office. This has changed dramatically over the last two decades.
Today we find ECG sensors in everything from smart watches on our wrist to smart steering wheels in our cars. However, while the data captured by these sensors has exploded, the ability to quickly, accurately, and securely interpret this data and provide actionable insight remains very limited. We are working on changing this. If we can help detect CVD early and save the lives of even 0.01% of those that might otherwise be unexpectedly taken from us, my colleagues and myself consider this could be our single greatest contribution to humanity.
How do you think your technology can address this?
We have built an API-based platform that can integrate with any ECG device, be it an outpatient Holter device, a smart watch, or even a bio-fabric and ingest data from the device. Once the ECG data has been ingested, our analytics engine can quickly, accurately, and securely parameterize this data and diagnose arrhythmias that can be precursors to potential serious conditions such as strokes and/or heart attacks. Our software presents this data to clinicians in a timely and actionable manner. This technology has the potential to change how cardiovascular disease is managed forever, and to save countless lives.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
For me personally, it is outrageous that patient care and outcomes depend on your zip code. It worries me that the access and delivery of care varies dramatically from my hometown’s zip code (00676) to our office zip code in NYC (10013).
Going back to my Life Lesson Quote, we are building AccurKardia to provide better outcomes by making available our clinically grade device agnostic automated ECG analytics to humanity regardless of where they live. The importance of human lives is not defined by zip codes nor is our product.
How do you think this might change the world?
We envision a world in which ECG data is gathered by multiple authorized devices from our everyday life. With our individual consent, data is automatically assessed and based on our permissions, certain relevant information is shared with our physicians. Our physicians will be able to have a better understanding about our wellbeing and may prescribe more specialized clinical devices earlier. This could allow serious conditions to be treated before they become life threatening.
As technology improves and new solutions become available, so comes the threats from that very technology. Health care is a data-driven business, with the most personal information being furnished to health care providers and those in the periphery of the industry, such as insurance carriers. With that in mind, the more health care data becomes available, the higher the chances of discrimination based on such information. It is definitely a concern that information meant to be used to identify and treat illnesses in their infancy, while ultimately improving outcomes, may be use as a basis of discrimination. We need to be acutely aware of this and keep it in the forefront of our minds as we gain adoption.
Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, can you please share “Five things you need to know to successfully create technology that can make a positive social impact”? (Please share a story or an example, for each.)
- Understand the problem. There are too many companies and products built without a real problem in mind. While some are successful in launching their businesses this way, most do not succeed. I believe that in the long run, to build a sustainable and successful technology, you must solve for a clear problem. Go back to school and think about solving for “x.” You need to have an x to have a real solution.
- Identify the low hanging fruit. As anything worth in life, building things takes time. In my experience, achieving quick wins helps build momentum and boost morale on the team so that the endurance continues carrying them towards the finish line.
- Don’t lose perspective of the big picture. It is very easy to get lost in the details. While delivering a top-notch product is a must, dealing with the details cannot distract you from your goals.
- Obtain customer feedback as early as possible. I say this from my own experience as I’ve been bitten by this a few times. It doesn’t matter how much experience you or the team may have, it is never too early to get customer feedback. The closer you are to your target customer, the easier it will be to deliver in the future.
- Filter noise from true advice. No one knows more about your product, technology, or market than YOU. A lot of people may give you feedback, but that doesn’t mean you have to act upon all. Identify noise (or irrelevant feedback) from value added advice as it is key to avoid wasting time and resources needed to achieve your goals.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
Building a business or aiming to achieve financial returns are reasonable goals. However, from personal experience, if you can balance such goals with making an impact on society, it provides a much better feeling of satisfaction. From a utilitarian perspective, if you want to feel better and build a better world for the next generation to enjoy, we must investigate ways to bring a positive impact to society. Think of it as borrowing this world to give it back to your children and so forth.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)
I would love to meet Dr. Devi Shetty, who has been able to create a model for high quality and affordable heart surgeries for the masses. Once again, access to health care shouldn’t be limited based on where you live or where were you born.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
The best ways to follow our work is to go to our website: https://www.accurkardia.com/. Drop us a line!
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success in your important work.