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  • 03.02.17
  • faces of founders

Empowering the Patient

What started as a way to broaden the utility of instructional short videos has blossomed into a tool to revolutionize healthcare.

Empowering the Patient

Whether it’s mastering the finer points of cooking a favorite dish or understanding the physics of a hummingbird’s flight, Anjali Kataria knows that more and more people are learning differently now—increasingly, through short online videos on mobile devices. This insight led Kataria and her husband, Vinay Bhargava, to co-found Mytonomy, a cloud software company that’s transforming healthcare by educating patients on treatments and procedures using videos. Mytonomy calls it “microlearning”—but the implications have opened up a meta-universe of understanding for anyone anxious about seeing the doctor.

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The idea is simple: Before a treatment or procedure, patients watch brief videos on their own time—wherever and whenever they want—that have been assigned by their doctors. Patients learn what to expect, reducing their worry, before they set foot in a hospital. The Mytonomy cloud platform is HIPAA-compliant and lets the hospital and providers create customized patient education modules in a regulated environment. There are no apps and no downloads.

A typical video session might explain the complexity of a disease, the need for a given treatment, or break down a procedure step by step. The result is to demystify the unknown, a true example of knowledge equaling power. The instructional videos are also good for doctors: Armed with a better understanding and higher comfort level, patients are more likely to trust their providers and to show up for treatment. At one hospital, Mytonomy has reduced the no-show rate from 50 to 7 percent, a significant boost to business.

At another, patient satisfaction scores increased from 70 to 95 percent.  Through a clinical research study at a major health system, patients that used the Mytonomy system were demonstrably less anxious and had better patient-clinician interactions across the board. “When you change the way patients feel,” Kataria says, “you change their behavior.”

Making a Pivot

In many ways, Kataria’s path to becoming the founder of Mytonomy’s healthcare business is the classic entrepreneur’s tale: a variety of seemingly mismatched experiences coming together to make a surprisingly powerful whole. The daughter of immigrant doctors from India, Kataria was drawn to science and tech from an early age. After attending Duke University on a full merit scholarship, she earned a Master’s degree in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, and then went on to law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. That’s when she fell for business.

“I took a seminar on entrepreneurship and loved it,” she says. “I felt like every cylinder was firing. During spring break of my first year of law school I went to California and interviewed executives about a business problem that I was studying, and then created a business plan around it. I caught the entrepreneurial bug.”

By that summer, Kataria had founded her first company and built a product, a wine-management operation system. When it failed to gain traction, she and her partners took the core assets and did a restart in a different industry that had similar problems: big pharma/biotech. The solution footprint expanded and became a best-in-class product lifecycle management company, Conformia Software, which was acquired by Oracle in 2009.

The path to Mytonomy began with Kataria’s husband. He was a strategic partnerships executive at Google who wanted to enable high school students to achieve their goals after graduation, regardless of their birth circumstances or where their school was located. So in 2011, he co-founded Mytonomy. “He decided to start a company that would create short bursts of information about colleges, job markets, the military,” Kataria says. “Mytonomy was a marketplace of advice, in a sense, from near-peers, about the opportunities kids could pursue after high school.”

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When she saw what Mytonomy was doing in education, she thought how useful it could be in healthcare for educating patients and improving doctor-patient relationships. In addition to her startups, Kataria had served as an entrepreneur-in-residence and senior advisor with the Federal Drug Administration, and worked closely with the industry to understand their needs in developing 21st century cures. After leaving the FDA, she began thinking about how the digital era could address the big problems she had witnessed at the administration and at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services around patient education and engagement. Following extensive market research, Kataria and Bhargava expanded Mytonomy’s enterprise cloud solution into healthcare. “When we eventually did pivot in that direction and began delivering microlearning patient education content to hospitals, everyone immediately got it.” she says. “Patients. Hospital administrators. Insurance companies. That’s when you know you have a good product—when everyone looks and says, Wow, I can’t believe we never thought of that.”

Patients First

Today, Mytonomy helps providers use any content they want, or they can create their own content (short videos about various medical conditions, treatments, and procedures). Providers can also customize pre-packaged starter kits of peer-reviewed videos being used at leading health systems in minutes. In less than a year, Kataria, the CEO, and Bhargava, the president, have generated $2 million in sales and signed up thousands of patients. Mytonomy is reaching diverse and high-risk populations as well: The average age of users is 68, and half the patients are minorities.

“I think we’ve cracked a tough nut with this cloud solution and customized microlearning,” Kataria says of patient education. “Hospitals want to reduce costs, increase revenue, and help patients proactively take care of themselves and not simply continue with the status quo. We are helping hospitals re-imagine the patient relationship and own the education they deliver to their patients. They are realizing that their brand matters, and reaching their patients through our cloud platform before they visit is good for their bottom line.”

This approach requires a shift in how hospitals view patients, and how patients view themselves. “Government and healthcare are service industries,” Kataria says. “But at the end of the day, the patient has to take charge of his or her care. They need to understand what is happening to them every step of the way as well as what they need to do to participate in their care. Providers are there to support patients, which starts with education, and that’s where we enter—at the very beginning of that treatment lifecycle.

“Mytonomy gives providers powerful modern software solutions to deliver this new kind of patient relationship management at scale. We enable the hospital to deliver a five-star, highly effective consumer experience, which is massively better than the status quo. All the patient has to do is press play.”

#FacesofFounders, a campaign by the Case Foundation, Blackstone Charitable Foundation, Google for Entrepreneurs, and UBS, in partnership with Fast Company, celebrates dynamic and diverse entrepreneurs. Learn more at facesoffounders.org.

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