First of all, how are you and your Family doing in these COVID-19 Times?
Thomaz Srougi: Thank you for your concern. My family and I are fine during these extraordinary times. We follow the guidance to stay home, keep social distance and wear masks when we need to leave the house occasionally.
Tell us about you, your Career, how you Founded, or Joined Dr. Consulta
Thomaz Srougi: I come from a family of doctors and the fact that 75% of our 210 million people in Brazil don’t have access to health services when needed always bothered me. At the same time, physicians and other medical professionals are expensive to make and stressed. Clearly a dysfunctional critical situation for many people.
After studying in the U.S., where I have had the chance to spend a lot of time studying social problems and running regression models, I´ve decided to face the challenge to re-engineering a third way for low income uninsured and underinsured Brazilians to access the care they needed so desperately.
The idea was quite simple: offering excellent affordable and consistent care to everyone, everywhere and anytime. We wanted to do it through a multimodal model with in-office, virtual (telemedicine) and in-home care for convenience and lower costs, combined with a multi-specialty and multi-service health offering, to enable us to become self-sufficient to generate all clinical data needed to foresee individuals future health risk and proactively take action today to neutralize such risks.
We started the first clinic in the largest favela of South America, the hardest place possible to experiment with a new model, knowing that if it worked there, we would have a truly replicable, scalable and profitable model that people loved.
How does Dr. Consulta Innovate?
Thomaz Srougi: We are a healthtech. That means we leverage technology to work for us relentlessly, generate and transform data into insights and engage patients and doctors not only in-office, but also virtually, where they want and need us.
Being a tech company means we are constantly experimenting, failing fast under controlled boundaries, learning and evolving. Our people are used to working outside of their comfort zones to save lives. It is also a mindset of extreme pragmatism, transparency and ownership. Our people are obsessed about users, speed, are not afraid of errors, are obsessed about reducing costs and use design to improve access.
Our electronic medical record system was developed internally by our doctors and engineers. We developed AI-enabled prescription and diagnostic algorithms and hardcoded into our system to improve doctors’ productivity and satisfaction and reduce waste and lower costs for patients.
Our AI-based doctor shifts system predicts demand in real-time and manages doctor and non-medical staff shifts for increased patient convenience and productivity autonomously. Doctor shifts are opened without human interference, for they communicate with robots.
We are constantly measuring and evolving. We disrupt ourselves every day so that no one else will do it!
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Thomaz Srougi: The COVID-19 pandemic started in Brazil in the middle of March. But the combination of in-clinic, virtual and in-home care has truly performed. And we recovered faster than the sector, to pre COVID levels.
The number of telemedicine appointments rose exponentially and in 3 months, we serviced the same amount of individuals we did in the first 3 years of company’s life.
From a company perspective, we have noticed that engineers’ productivity increased by 20%, working from home. And the majority of our teams became more disciplined to deliver on time, even working asynchronously.
Our caregiving culture has definitely become stronger and consolidated. Nothing like going through extraordinary times with the team and succeeding to become stronger.
Did you have to make Difficult Choices, and what are the Lessons Learned?
Thomaz Srougi: I think the most difficult decision we made was to remain with our medical centers opened, while so much uncertainty and lack of information at the beginning of the pandemic. We didn’t want to expose ourselves to the virus, and the fear of becoming sick and not understanding the consequences was high.
However, the team decided to put other people’s interests first, geared up for war, and faced the unexpected. Today the team feels proud and more united than ever because they know they helped families, and most needed it.
How do you deal with Stress and Anxiety, how do you Project yourself and Dr. Consulta in the Future?
Thomaz Srougi: Life is short, so I do what I love, with people I admire and with strong work ethics, who also know how to have fun along the way. I also try to approach my day in a very disciplined way, with time for work and myself. I am very much into sports and I usually use that time to seek balance, reflect, process and learn by listening to podcasts and books. I try to eat healthy, even though I fall prey to bread, cheeses, and coffee more often than I should!
Who are your Competitors? And how do you plan to Stay in the Game?
Thomaz Srougi: To stay in the game, we have to put users first and be fast to plan, decide and execute. We also must make sure we stay humble, hungry and smart. Our competition is the public health system, health insurance companies and maybe AI.
Your final thoughts
Thomaz Srougi: I am sure we will beat the virus soon, and I hope when we do, we will emerge stronger as a society and enjoy time with the ones we love.