19 Jun 2019
Connecting Patients and Providers
How his mother’s search for treatment led Greg Jarzabek to build a better way to bridge the medical marketby April WhiteTopics:
Photo by Douglas Fry
Greg Jarzabek (PLD 21, 2016) was living in London and working in finance when his mother was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in her native Poland. Jarzabek wanted to reach out to doctors around the world to review and discuss his mother’s case. So, he and his mother traveled to Warsaw, London, Chicago, New York, Boston, Cologne, and Frankfurt in search of a fuller diagnosis and cutting-edge medical advice. The extraordinary effort gave his 59-year-old mother another 10 months with her family. And it inspired Jarzabek to create Trustedoctor, a digital healthcare startup designed to make global specialized healthcare accessible to anyone, anywhere.
Trustedoctor “focuses on the first half mile of the patient and provider journey, before customers become in-patients of a provider” explains Jarzabek, who remembers well the frustration of unanswered emails and phone calls when he tried to contact medical specialists on his mother’s behalf. Trustedoctor estimates that only 2 percent of emails to doctors are returned and a full 46 percent of inquiries to United States hospitals via any method are lost. And even if you successfully make a connection, there’s the question of sharing medical records: “Can you fax them? Can you FedEx them? It’s incredible,” Jarzabek says of the complexity of arranging a consultation. As a son, Jarzabek saw patients with urgent needs waiting too long for care; as a businessman, he saw an opportunity for the medical industry. He estimates that the average American hospital loses $80 million a year in neglected patient referrals and other processing inefficiencies.
The solution, Jarzabek says, is Trustedoctor’s “E-Link”, a secure online platform which streamlines communication between inbound patients, admission centers, hospitals and doctors at an inquiry level while helping healthcare providers and admission units achieve greater levels of efficiency.
Hospitals that purchase this plug and play software can use it to handle inquiries from prospective patients and maintain relationships with existing ones. Trustedoctor also facilitates digital consultations, reducing the cost and travel demands on ill patients. And it allows doctors and other medical experts to collaborate on complex cases in a virtual clinical environment.
Jarzabek had seen the value of digital connection firsthand when caring for his mother. Together, they had traveled around the world for 20-minute appointments, but they had received vital advice from specialists in Turin, Helsinki, and Tokyo, where an applicable clinical trial was underway, via the internet.
Jarzabek’s idea for Trustedoctor didn’t become a reality, though, until he met PLD classmates Ivan Zhivago and Philippe Schucht (both PLD 21, 2016). Jarzabek and his co-founder Lukasz Rzeczkowski had sought out Zhivago, who is a part of a large healthcare-focused private equity fund, for advice. Zhivago saw promise in the Trustedoctor idea—especially its global reach and focus on specialized medicine—and in Jarzabek’s passion for it, but, he recalls, “there were a couple of parts missing for me.” Jarzabek was mission-driven, had the analytical and strategy skills a startup needs, but he didn’t have the medical experience and fundraising know-how Trustedoctor would require. As an angel investor and advisor, Zhivago could bring the investment experience, and Schucht, now chief medical officer for the company, added his decades of knowledge as a neurosurgeon to the startup. To Schucht, the head of neurosurgical oncology at the University Hospital Bern in Switzerland, the need for the product was obvious. “Medicine has made unprecedented advancements over the last decades,” says Schucht, who is available for consultation with brain cancer patients through the Trustedoctor platform. “However, the way a patient accesses medicine is still archaic.”
The startup entered the growing digital healthtech sector in late 2016. Today, the platform is available to doctors in any specialized medical field; the company will launch partnerships with large healthcare providers in Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States later this year. For Jarzabek, though, the company’s successes should also be counted in patients helped. “I like finance,” Jarzabek says, “but I felt this opportunity needed my attention. So, I started Trustedoctor, something that would change the lives of others.”
Class of PLDA 21