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The Future Is Now: “Now we can overcome healthcare’s traditional silos with AI” With Adam Sabloff and Fotis Georgiadis

We’re going to get to a place where we can monitor patients in real time using passive sensors in smart devices and wearables and delivering targeted, intelligent interventions based on billions of data points across tens of millions of other medical events. The goal is to alter behavior before a chronic diagnosis or a heart […]


We’re going to get to a place where we can monitor patients in real time using passive sensors in smart devices and wearables and delivering targeted, intelligent interventions based on billions of data points across tens of millions of other medical events. The goal is to alter behavior before a chronic diagnosis or a heart attack or a stroke happens. Imagine having the world’s smartest doctor by your side at all times, on call, and fully paid for by your insurance company. This is the future and we are all working incredibly hard to make it a reality.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Adam Sabloff, founder and CEO of VirtualHealth. Adam founded VirtualHealth in 2012, based upon a concept he first envisioned more than 10 years prior to fix a broken healthcare system. With Adam at the helm, VirtualHealth has recently received several significant recognitions including ranking #39 on the Deloitte Fast 500, the 2017 Population Health Management Product Leadership Award from Frost & Sullivan, and designation by Black Book Market Research as one of the Top 50 Disruptive Health IT Companies for its innovation and customer satisfaction.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

The genesis of VirtualHealth started with my work in the mid-2000s. I was involved in the renaissance of the Inner Harbor in Baltimore and a key part of our mission was to empower seniors moving into these new developments to have access to a great healthcare ecosystem. This was the early days of telehealth. The goal was to use connected devices to make the home an organic extension of the healthcare system through real-time monitoring. These devices could measure key indicators like glucose levels, weight, and blood pressure. We saw tremendous promise in leveraging telehealth to monitor patients’ health and prevent expensive hospital visits. Most importantly, I realized that there was incredible potential for technology to bring about real change in healthcare.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Many stories come to mind but one that I like to share with other entrepreneurs happened about a year or so into our journey. We had built a promising prototype but were struggling to get initial traction. We had bootstrapped the company and the company was nearly broke. Right around then I had a meeting with a very experienced healthcare VC firm. They told us flat out our idea was never going to work. I think it would have been easy to give up right then and there. But we persevered because we believed that what we were doing was going to profoundly change people’s lives. That story inspires me every day to never stop moving forward, no matter how daunting the road may seem.

Can you tell us about the “Bleeding edge” technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

We are working on several initiatives that are very exciting. One area that I believe holds tremendous promise is data science and artificial intelligence. With our platform we have already built the most complete profile of each patient by integrating with an unparalleled number of data sources. By doing this we have overcome healthcare’s traditional silos. In turn, this rich data set allows us to run analytics and drive automated workflows at an unprecedented level. The goal is to transform the healthcare industry’s reactive approach to one that anticipates negative events before they occur and ensures that optimal interventions are delivered at the right time to the right patient. Analyzing the data and seeing how interventions affect outcomes using both statistical approaches and machine learning is going to be the key that unlocks the door to truly proactive healthcare.

How do you think this might change the world?

We’re going to get to a place where we can monitor patients in real time using passive sensors in smart devices and wearables and delivering targeted, intelligent interventions based on billions of data points across tens of millions of other medical events. The goal is to alter behavior before a chronic diagnosis or a heart attack or a stroke happens. Imagine having the world’s smartest doctor by your side at all times, on call, and fully paid for by your insurance company. This is the future and we are all working incredibly hard to make it a reality.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

Black Mirror brings up a lot of interesting points about how technology can be used and misused. Personal health data is very sensitive, private information and we have a great regulatory framework under HIPAA and HITECH to ensure that this information is only disclosed to authorized organizations and providers. However, policies require careful thought and comprehensive implementation in order to work as intended. As we collect more and more personal data we have to remain vigilant about doing everything we can to protect it. Securing data is an area where I believe there is always going to be an opportunity to think more deeply about what more can be done.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

This mission is very personal for me. In the late 2000s my mother received a late stage cancer diagnosis. What made that whole experience especially trying was coming face to face with the inadequacies of a siloed healthcare system. It was a lose-lose-lose situation. If her issue had been detected earlier, she would still be here. The hospital system and physician resources wouldn’t have been taxed by the more intense interventions required. The insurance companies wouldn’t have been paying the large sums for her treatment. That’s when I realized the system was broken and I made it my mission to do something about it.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

The change we need is already happening and it’s coming from a very unexpected place. We are seeing a lot of healthcare innovation in Medicaid, particularly in states that have embraced value-based care, which is also where we support millions of lives with our platform. Many are surprised to learn that Medicaid is one of the most innovative areas in healthcare. Consider this: Medicaid programs must care for vast populations with limited funds and still show high efficacy and quality outcomes. How do you deliver better care with the same providers, hospitals, and silos? The answer is smarter care management models and better technology. We are starting to see a lot of these innovations starting to move into Medicare and commercial lines of business, which is shifting the entire industry in a positive direction.

What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?

Our goal with our marketing is to engage both insurers and providers in thoughtful discussion about technology’s role in improving outcomes and raising the bar on quality care. Through speaking engagements, white papers, bylines, blogs, social media, and interviews such as this, among other things, we try to share our point of view about ways we can transform healthcare. Ultimately, we want to drive an open exchange of ideas and promote new ways of approaching old problems because the market’s ability to innovate is far greater than that of any single company.

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 am grateful to so many people that helped VirtualHealth get where it is today that singling out one of them would be unfair to the others. On a personal level, I am very open about the fact that my mother, who, as I mentioned, passed away well before her time continues to be my inspiration. Every time our technology helps a patient to be a little healthier, to avoid a hospitalization, to elude a chronic condition, or to prevent a late diagnosis, it gives that much more meaning to her story.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Our technology is being used to care for millions of patients across the country. Each one of them is a real human being with their own challenges and dreams. But one thing they have in common is they want the best possible quality of life, and our entire company works tirelessly with our clients to figure out ways we can deliver that better, smarter, and faster. We are grateful for the difference we have made and we are excited about the opportunity to continue pushing forward.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

The five things I wish someone had told me before I started are:

1. The challenge of evangelizing a new way of doing things in a very storied, established industry such as healthcare. You have to be willing to fail often and never give up.

2. The practical constraints of building a single platform that can service a broad range of plans across many states with different regulatory and operational requirements. Delivering a product that is agile, modular, and configurable is essential.

3. The ground level reality of the challenges of moving data in a highly siloed, multi-system environment. You have to find ways to quickly on-board new systems and formats.

4. The surprising level of behavior change required for many patients to be proactive about their own health. It really takes a partnership between payer, provider, and patient.

5. The unexpected and encouraging groundswell of support for transformative technology that exists beneath the industry’s surface. I have found innovative thinkers in the most unlikely places and I am grateful to each one of them for playing their part in moving the industry forward.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to inspire more thought leaders in both the public and the private sector to leverage the key concepts of value-based care. Aligning incentives among payers, providers, and patients makes both business sense and social sense. Value-based care incentivizes everyone to row in the same direction — toward more efficient, better, accessible, and proactive care for everyone.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“If you don’t quit, you win.” I am where I am today because I followed this advice. Full stop.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I’d like to flip the question and encourage any VC reading this article to invest in startups trying to bring innovation to established industries. Don’t turn down a company because their value proposition is too ambitious or because they are trying to change too much. Don’t run away from really big ideas. Look beyond the fundamentals and financial and focus on the individuals. Are they passionate? Are they dedicated? Are they all-in? If they are all of these things then they will find a way to win. You can bet on it. Entrepreneurs who are driven by more than money — by wanting to change the world and make a lasting impact — are the ones who will move mountains and build a better future.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

@virtualhealth_

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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