Entrepreneur of the Week: Dr. Mylea Charvat, Savonix, Inc.
Aiming to be a global leader in behavioral health, Savonix has developed an evidence-based, low-cost cognitive test that is integrated with a cadre of data analytics tools.
We spoke with founder and CEO, Dr. Mylea Charvat, about Savonix and the opportunities she sees in the 50+ market.
The Longevity Network: What does Savonix, the company, do?
Dr. Mylea Charvat: Savonix delivers the world’s first mobile, evidence-based assessment of cognitive and emotional function. The digital screen is a 30-minute assessment accessed from any iOS or Android device, available via a license from healthcare organizations and other third-party partners. Savonix is an accurate, accessible, actionable and affordable tool for professional cognitive screening, empowering healthcare providers to evaluate and leverage results to improve health and treatment outcomes.
The Savonix Mobile platform has truly revolutionized access to cognitive data and is poised to transform how the medical community will use mobile platforms and technology to generate critical insights into the cognitive status of each individual in the future. In addition, Savonix’s comprehensive brain evaluation platform improves cognitive testing and eliminates the high cost and time investments of traditional cognitive tests. Importantly, the platform also enables medical professionals to reach a broader population set for both treatment and clinical trials, and also gain valuable insights into the role of cognition in a wide variety of diseases and disorders.
LN: Can you tell us about your product and how it works?
MC: Savonix’s proprietary Digital Cognitive Assessment Platform provides a simple and cost-effective way to gauge cognitive function, organize and store data at the population level, improve patient outcomes, and accelerate medical innovation.
Designed with the screen in mind, Savonix was engineered to statistically control for touch screen effects and to deliver an age-appropriate test to the individual user that accounts for such effects as device type, screen lag times, and average response time by mechanic (swipe, tap, draw) by age group. Unlike any other digital tests on the market, Savonix uses 3D technology to more accurately mimic pen and paper test conditions with multiple psychomotor conditions including tapping, choice based selection, drag and drop, scroll and draw.
LN: What opportunity did you want to address with the development of your technology?
MC: Savonix aims to determine the cognitive status of each individual in an affordable and time efficient manner in order to ensure medical professionals can accurately monitor patients, gain valuable insights into the role of cognition in a wide variety of diseases and disorder, and ultimately, improve patient outcomes.
LN: Who are your primary users? In what ways can your products benefit the 50+ population?
MC: Our primary users are consumers of all ages. The Savonix Mobile platform has truly revolutionized access to cognitive data and is poised to transform how the medical community will use mobile platforms and technology to generate critical insights into the cognitive status of each individual in the future. In addition, Savonix’s comprehensive brain evaluation platform improves cognitive testing and eliminates the high cost and time investments of traditional cognitive tests. Importantly, the platform also enables medical professionals to reach a broader population set for both treatment and clinical trials, and also gain valuable insights into the role of cognition in a wide variety of diseases and disorders, including Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
LN: How did you assemble your team?
MC: Our team is a unique blend of gaming engineers, data scientists, clinicians and marketing, operations and sales experts. It was important to me to look for people that had a passion for creating solutions to a meaningful problem – in this case the integration of cognitive data into diagnosis and treatment planning. We use gap analysis to find the needs in our team and then my favorite thing to do is personally look on LinkedIn for people that seem to have the background and even outside interests that align with our needs, mission and values and to reach out to them personally to join Savonix.
LN: How has Savonix the company differed from what you envisioned it would be (if at all)?
MC: Yes. I originally envisioned this as a direct to consumer offering. It quickly became apparent that given the nature of the data it was important to have a trained provider as part of the process to provide context, feedback and help with what to do for instance if there is a cognitive problem.
LN: What do you wish you had known before developing your concept?
MC: It depends on what part of the company we are taking about – in terms of the business I wish I had known more about how hard it is to raise money for a business and how critical it is to talk to the “right” investors – how to find them and then how to rapidly test and adjust to both market and customer needs. These are all things we have gotten good at with Savonix – I just wish I had known then what I know now.
LN: What most excites you about the aging and / or health technology market?
MC: Digital health is quickly shifting from the first wave of simple wellness devices and smartphone apps to companies that are engaging patients and improving healthcare outcomes. Mobile phones and other digital health tools have now enabled physicians to engage with patients in real-time, and provide continuous monitoring, to gather health, behavior and contextual data.
As the digital health industry matures and becomes more engrained in everyday practice, several unknowns still remain. What can we expect from a regulatory standpoint? How do we maintain gold standards for care? How do we ensure new innovations are clinically valid and will make a difference to patients? As we look for these answers, we can be confident that promising outcomes are ahead.
LN: What is your best piece of advice for startups who want to include or target the 50+ market?
MC: To talk to providers and patients and others that are in this market and to realize that this is an incredibly diverse market with unique needs.
LN: Where do you see Savonix five years from now?
MC: The established authority on cognition and its relationship to diagnosis, treatment outcomes, and the development of novel therapeutics.
About the Author
A trained clinical psychologist with a neuro specialty, Dr. Charvat is a recognized thought leader. She completed her fellowship in clinical neuroscience at Stanford School of Medicine and has been a lecturer at Stanford, the University of San Francisco and San Francisco State University.