CEO and Co-founder Jason Maude tells his story of how Isabel Healthcare – The Diagnosis Checklist was started after his daughter, Isabel, was misdiagnosed. In trying to make sense of the reasons why Isabel was misdiagnosed Jason was determined to find a way to to prevent misdiagnosis from happening to others. Jason realised that healthcare providers, and the patients themselves, would best be served if patient’s could use a differential diagnosis tool. The purpose of this diagnosis tool is to match the patient’s symptoms and cross-check them through a database of diagnoses to come up with a diagnostic checklist.
The following MedCrunch interview with Jason Maude was conducted at the Health 2.0 Europe 2012 Conference in Berlin, Germany. What made this interview unique was the candor and openness of Mr. Maude in sharing his thoughts and convictions regarding medical reform and how to change healthcare. This interview is more than a pitch for specific solution, rather it is insightful portrayal of what motivated one person to help improve healthcare. Jason Maude epitomises the entrepreneurial mindset needed to “hack health” and he is bringing meaningful change to an ailing system.
MedCrunch: You were motivated to start Isabel because of a family [medical] issue; how could you encourage others (with a similar experience) to take the same motivation to make a difference in medicine? You are obviously making a difference! [Another question to add is] how has this [experience founding Isabel] changed your life?
Jason Maude: [Isabel has changed my life] completely, it has become a mission. I think if you say, how did we do it, there was obviously an event that caused it. I also had an idea, despite the fact an event was there. Although the event [exists to motivate change] most people don’t [take the opportunity to make a difference in medicine] maybe because they handle things in a different way, or they do not have an idea. Because of my background was finance I had an idea of how to build a system. So, I analysed the problem of why my daughter got mis-diagnosed, I thought I had a tool that would help those people [medical professionals] do it (help diagnose patients). I knew what the tool should be, and because of my background in finance I had exposure to lots of companies and I could see a way of building it (the diagnostic tool). So, we had the idea of a potential solution and the means to [realise this solution] through a structure. We setup [Isabel] on a charitable basis. I got clinicians to help, because I am not a clinician.
Again, my background in finance helped us raise money to build [Isabel]. I spoke to the CEO of one of one of the key companies [assisting us] to donate the software [for developing Isabel]. We [established] a charity and a structure that everyone could work [within] and I think that having the event (of my daughter’s misdiagnosis) made it into a mission. Because things take so long in healthcare, it is so slow [to change] you need that extra something, a mission, to keep you going.
Things take so long in healthcare [to change] that you need an extra something, a mission, to keep you going.” – Jason Maude
MedCrunch: When you say “things take so long in healthcare, things are slow” are you referring to the velocity of change?
Jason Maude: Yes, [change in healthcare] is glacial! I was in the stock market where things happen in seconds and minutes, and then in moving through to normal business [change] probably takes months or years; and in healthcare it takes years or decades, or even generations. I would probably measure healthcare change in generations. Therefore we are [witnessing] extremes [when comparing the velocity of change]. When you are building a business, time is the key thing, you need to keep going. If you [feel you] have the best solution you need to keep going long enough so that other people can realise it and start buying [into this solution]. In normal business it might take you two or three years [for your solution to be adopted], in healthcare you need to keep going twice as long order to survive.
MedCrunch: Based on this family event (your daughters misdiagnosis) which was the catalyst for you to create Isabel, and also your background and skills in finance, are there certain skill-sets that you see are need to effect real change in medicine?
Jason Maude: I haven’t really analysed this. If I look back on my experience I would say that not being a clinician, and coming at this health problem completely cold and taking on a very objective look at the problem was useful. Also, I am not an IT (information technology) person, and therefore when we built the system ( I can ask myself) does it work for me? I can look at it as a patient and say: does that make sense, is it easy to use, as opposed to a doctors’ (perspective). Therefore, I don’t get bogged down in the technology of it.
MedCrunch: So, you are saying that “naivety” is one of your greatest assets?
Jason Maude: That is a very good way to put it. Naivety is a great quality to have. Because if you knew all the problems you wouldn’t start out on that journey. I think that is probably what most entrepreneurs have is a kind of a mission, perseverance and naivety, otherwise it is too long of a journey. People need to be realistic you see. You can have the best solution the world has ever seen, and you think that everyone is going to go for it, but they don’t, they don’t see it. (Upon self-reflection Mr. Maude states:) Then you look back and realize that we should have made this (Isabel Differential Diagnostics) available to patients ages ago. [At the beginning] we decided this was for doctors and that they need to use this. It is a very sophisticate tool. Some patients will love it and some patients will not cope with it.
I don’t have the magic solution as to how you drive adoption in healthcare because it is such a strange industry. Frankly, it is the most inefficient managed industry there is I should think. Is it great when people like Tim Kelsey (referring to a keynote at the Health 2.0 Conference) talks about getting patients mobilised and actually changing healthcare from that way (change coming through patients). Because otherwise doctors on their own won’t change.
MedCrunch: You are an example of a patient, or at least inspired from a patient history to effect change.
Jason Maude: That is where a lot of change in healthcare comes from, patients who are motivated to change (healthcare). They either see their relations in hospital, their father or mother ,and the care they’ve got to act as a catalyst for change. Otherwise, (change in ) healthcare is sort of drip, drip, it’s not a tsunami of change. It doesn’t hit people all of the sudden. It is the drip, drip of people not diagnosed, people dying. Change needs to be a tsunami to get people going. And that is the trouble with healthcare, often these issues in healthcare continue day in and day out, people accept these problems and nothing changes. So healthcare needs somebody who is bloody-minded (stubborn), got a mission, the means (resources), and the idea to make it happen. It is amazing what individuals can do, because they can keep at it forever; that’s what it takes!
Jason Maude serves as Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of Isabel Healthcare Ltd. Prior to co-founding Isabel Healthcare Ltd, Maude spent 12 years working in the finance and investment banking industry in Europe. Throughout his career, Maude served as a top-ranked equity analyst at Kleinwort Benson Securities, Smith Barney and Dillon Read. While at Dillon Read, Maude served as partner and managing director of the company’s UK office.