Nick Desai, Renee, on creating a personal health assistant for elderly and underserved patients
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In this episode, I sat down with Nick Desai, CEO and Founder of Renee. Founded in 2021, Renee is the developer of patient-centric software designed to improve healthcare services for elderly and underserved patients. The company’s application helps schedule appointments, request in-home services, fulfill medication prescriptions, and share vital signs remotely. Renee recently raised $4.4 million in a second seed round led by Quiet Capital. Other investors include Mucker Capital, Fika Ventures, Tau Ventures, Global Founders Capital, SaaS Ventures, City Light Capital, and the AARP.
During our conversation, Nick and I discussed:
- Nick’s entrepreneurial journey leading up to launching Renee
- What Renee is and how its personal assistant offering works
- How Renee creates a centralized platform to manage a patient’s entire care experience
- Lessons learned from building healthcare companies and Nick’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs
Beginning to 18:55 — On Nick’s career journey and launching Renee
- Renee is Nick’s fifth healthcare venture. Before Renee, Nick and his wife, Dr. Renee Dua, co-founded Heal, an on-demand house calls application, which raised roughly $164.1 million and was rolled out across the country. After leaving Heal, Nick and Dr. Dua founded Renee after experiencing how difficult it was to care for their older relatives due to how disjointed the healthcare system is, from scheduling appointments, to filling medication prescriptions and recording daily vitals.
- Recognizing the amount of wasted time spent on scheduling appointments, ordering tests, refilling medications, and calling doctors for follow-ups, Nick set to create Renee, a personal health assistant that gives patients back time by fulfilling all these tasks through their user-friendly interface which combines human support and advanced AI. More specifically, Renee focuses on elderly and underserved patients, who tend to require more care but have limited resources when it comes to receiving the right level of care.
- To build Renee, Nick and his team looked at how automated daily tasks all around us have become: ordering food, buying groceries, streaming a movie, dating, etc. Yet, despite the automation of so many services around us, healthcare remains incredibly manual — according to Nick, more than 70% of patients still call their offices to schedule a routine visit, sometimes waiting on hold for significant periods of time to get in touch with their provider.
- When asked about his concerns on an older population using tech-enabled platforms like Renee to access care, Nick believes that the healthcare industry needs to overcome the mentality of senior populations not being comfortable with using technology. To his point, older patients are using applications like FaceTime, Uber, and Netflix daily, and as such, solutions like Renee can be easily utilized as well.
Nobody wants to spend the best years of their life waiting on hold
18:55 to 23:28 — On Renee’s integration into the broader healthcare system
- I asked Nick about how Renee plans on integrating into the expansive web of healthcare, whether it is the insurance companies, the medical groups, pharmacies, and labs. He explained that Renee plans on working with each patient individually, catering and curating the system to their needs, and leveraging AI to recommend the best course of action. Moreover, Renee will highlight what benefits each patient gets with their specific insurance provider, and what they might not be utilizing that they should take advantage of.
- When asked about how to scale such an approach, Nick explained that Renee’s vision is to become a centralized point of care that all patients can utilize to request and receive the care that they need. Renee plans on doing so by aggregating data from its users as it continues to grow and learn what and where to direct patients, whether it is for their scheduling or pharmacy needs.
21:10 to 27:09 — On Health equity and how Renee plans to tackle inequities within the system
- Nick and I discussed how the pandemic also uncovered the disparities in U.S. healthcare. By using technology to deliver healthcare, Nick argues, Renee can reach patients in rural settings who otherwise are unlikely to be able to reach their provider or manage their care effectively. Beyond access and reach, through utilizing aggregated data from previous users, Renee can recommend the best, and most affordable, course of action for its patients.
- As part of this promise, Renee most recently launched 500Rx, which is a prescription plan that includes 500 of the most prescribed medications for a flat rate of $25/month. As prices for prescription drugs have skyrocketed over the last couple of years, this offering is more important than ever for consumers who are struggling to keep up with their healthcare costs. This plans blends seamlessly with the personal assistant as it provides patients with affordable medication as part of their care journey once they have met with their provider.
27:09 to End — On MBAs and entrepreneurship
- Nick’s advice to MBAs and non-MBAs alike who are interested in the space: go out and start something! He argues that it is important to seek discomfort, especially when it comes to careers, and to try and start something, even if it begins with a simple idea and scaling it from there.
We are so appreciative to Nick for joining us on this episode of The Pulse Podcast! Subscribe for our new releases on Twitter, Spotify or Apple podcasts.