We talked to Dr. Shourjya Sanyal of Think Biosolution about its Remote Patients Monitoring (RPM) platform and COVID-19.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Dr. Shourjya Sanyal: COVID-19 has impacted my personal and professional life in more than one way. Our daughter was born on 4th April 2020, exactly when the whole country went in lockdown for the first time. As first-time parents, it was a wild ride for my wife and me. The anticipation of COVID-19 impacting the mother and child’s health went hand in hand with us enjoying the pregnancy journey. Due to COVID-19, I was not allowed in the labor room, and I waited in the car busy writing a grant proposal for launching our At-home COVID-19 Monitoring Platform in Europe!
As a new parent, the COVID-19 lockdown has been a blessing in disguise. Hangouts and Zoom calls have replaced my jet setter lifestyle. I love the unique opportunity to attend meetings with global clientele while working out of my home office. Between meetings, I can say hello to my daughter, who finds me amusing and giggles every time she sees me.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Think Biosolution.
Dr. Shourjya Sanyal: I am a serial entrepreneur with a passion for developing and commercializing cutting-edge technology. I finished my Ph.D. from the School of Physics, University College Dublin. I co-founded Digital Self Technology, Ireland in 2013-2014. I also won the Deloitte Top Technology Award in 2016, Cruickshank High Achieving Merit Award by Enterprise Ireland in 2014, and CASL ACE Award in 2014. I was also one of the youngest fellows of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Students’ alumni meet held in Germany, 2009 and received the KVPY fellowship in 2007, from the Government of India. I was also a lecturer in Data Science in Digital Skills Academy, Ireland between 2016-2019. I currently serve as a Roster of Experts, Digital Health Technical Advisory Board, World Health Organization, and a Standard Committee for Remote Patient Monitoring Standard, CHQI.
In 2016 right after my Ph.D. I co-founded Think Biosolution with my best friend from college. Our vision from the get-go was to reduce the cost of healthcare using innovation. It was a bumpy ride for the first few years since we were immigrant founders. It took up a few years to find a great product-market fit. However, our well-knit founding team meant that we could use every little setback as a learning experience to grow. Our investors have also been extremely resourceful in advising us about scaleup strategies that we have successfully implemented to grow the team and business.
How does Think Biosolution innovate?
Dr. Shourjya Sanyal: We believe in customer-driven innovation. This means our product team is always willing to innovate solutions to meet customers’ needs. In fact, a good example of this is our customers who worked with assisted living facilities and health care professionals came back to us with a business requirement for a COVID-19 triaging platform. This led us to launch our At-home COVID-19 Monitoring & Triaging Platform within six months of the pandemic hitting the U.S.A market.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Dr. Shourjya Sanyal: Also, our newly launched At-home COVID-19 Monitoring Platform has been a huge success in the U.S.A.
COVID-19 hubs in hospitals have to allocate critical resources such as nurses to do a daily phone-based check-up of at-home COVID-19 positive patients. Our platform uses FDA 510(k) cleared finger-based pulse oximeter to monitor patients’ blood oxygen saturation and heart rate levels up to six times a day. This vital sign is then used to derive a COVID-19 early warning score (C19EWS) that clinicians can use to decide which at-home COVID-19 patients need immediate hospitalization. A COVID-19 hub in a hospital with 170 COVID-19 beds will be able to monitor an estimated 1,000 COVID-positive patients remotely using our platform.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Dr. Shourjya Sanyal: COVID-19 helped us reevaluate our entire business model and team. It helped us reassess our value proposition for our key customers. For example, we realized that our core product, i.e. At-home Geriatric Care platform, is still key for building our long-term partnerships with key customers.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Think Biosolution in the future?
Dr. Shourjya Sanyal: Stress and anxiety are a daily part of a founder’s journey. In the early days, the anxiety was about raising a seed round. Now, the founding team stresses about outperforming KPIs for customer delight and end-user engagement.
Each one of us has learned to deal with stress in unique ways. I personally enjoy going out for long hikes with my wife and daughter. I also find cooking and reading to be extremely useful relaxing during a busy week.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Dr. Shourjya Sanyal: There are no digital health platforms explicitly providing clinical triaging for specific chronic conditions. Our closest competitors are chronic care management providers who have separate platforms for the management of individual chronic conditions such as Propeller Health (Spirometry), Datos Health (Cardiology and Oncology), Vivify Health (Cardiology and Hypertension).
Your final thoughts?
Dr. Shourjya Sanyal: The COVID-19 pandemic catapulted the digital health revolution. Companies that will help providers and payors reduce the cost of care while increasing patient engagement are here to stay.
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