Entrepreneur of the Week: Cory Kidd, Catalia Health
Catalia Health provides patients and care providers with an interactive care management solution through Mabu, a voice-activated AI-based robot that provides care guidance to patients and transmits relevant health information to providers. We talked to Dr. Cory Kidd, founder and CEO, about Catalia Health and the opportunity they see in the 50+ market.
Longevity Network: What does Catalia Health, the company, do?
Cory Kidd: Catalia Health is a chronic disease care management company with an effective, scalable solution for patients and the healthcare system. Our easy-to-deploy programs are designed around specific disease states and effectively engage the patient in better managing their treatment while delivering granular data and outcomes to our customers. The interface to patients is an interactive robot called Mabu that uses a voice-based interface designed for simple, intuitive use by a wide variety of patients. The cloud-based platform delivers unique conversations to patients each time they have a conversation with Mabu. Through these conversations and other connected devices, Catalia Health transmits actionable data to our customers and partners.
Catalia Health sells to healthcare systems to provide better care and reduce readmission rates of chronic disease patients and to pharmaceutical manufacturers who want to deliver better care management programs to their patients. The company was founded in 2014 and is starting to deliver care to first commercial patients in Q1 2018. Catalia Health has raised around US $8 million from some of the top healthcare technology investors, including Khosla Ventures and NewGen Capital.
LN: Can you tell us about your product and how it works?
CK: Our platform’s simple-to-use interface comes in the form of an interactive voice-enabled robot named Mabu that has conversations with patients in their home about their healthcare and well-being. The Mabu platform incorporates psychology, evidenced-based medicine, and artificial intelligence to create engaging daily conversations that are tailored for each patient’s personality and needs. An individual talks with Mabu similarly to how they interact with other voice-activated virtual assistants like Siri or Amazon Echo. However, unlike these assistants, Mabu remembers information, learns about the patient, and personalizes her conversations accordingly. Depending on the patient’s current situation, these conversations may address how they’re feeling, their medication schedule and mitigating treatment side effects. In addition, Mabu offers tips for managing anxiety, depression, nutrition, and daily activities. Patients of all ages find Mabu’s voice and screen technology intuitive, engaging, and easy to use and they appreciate the around-the-clock support.
LN: What opportunity did you want to address with the development of your technology?
CK: Scalable chronic disease management with accessibility to many more patients than traditional patient follow ups allow. As it works now, nurses in call centers follow up with patients in a few appointments a year or a couple calls a month. This involves a lot of people’s time, and that means that the reality is that they can interact with patients very infrequently. What we’re doing at Catalia Health is not replacing those people and the calls they’re making, but we are providing the ability to give patients a daily check-in because the reality for patients dealing with these issues is there are challenges every single day. We know that there is a way to fill in the days in between those calls and get the information that Mabu uncovers back to the nurses and doctors that are providing the care so that they can be proactive about well-timed follow up. And when they do make that outreach they’re armed with a lot more information to come into the conversation in a way that’s going to be much more helpful to the individual dealing with this disease.
LN: Who are your primary users? In what ways can your products benefit the 50+ population?
CK: My work for the past 20 years has focused on building technology for an aging population. As the number of people dealing with chronic disease challenges grows, our healthcare system will continue to be strained to provide care. Catalia Health provides a way to fill in those gaps and let doctors and nurses provide more effective care to all of their patients. Our primary users depend on the disease, but for now we’re focused on congestive heart failure, late-stage kidney cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis, all of which most commonly affect people in the 50+ population.
LN: How did you assemble your team?
CK: There’s a unique story behind each person on this team, and they all fill an important role in the company. We have a mix of backgrounds, from a Hollywood screen writer to a former Twitter program manager to nurses. While the technology and AI is a core component of our platform, we are also founded on psychology and medicine, therefore hiring to fill those roles was key too. When assembling the team we had to look at the various areas we need top talent including technology (both software and hardware), clinical (we have a doctor, nurses, a psychologist), script writing and business.
LN: How has Catalia Health, the company differed from what you envisioned it would be (if at all)?
CK: We’re following the vision that I have been building towards for many years. I’m thrilled to have a large pharmaceutical company, healthcare customers, team members, and investors who believe in this. The steady growth we’ve had thus far and the leaps we plan to see in 2018 can attest to that.
LN: What do you wish you had known before developing your concept?
CK: How long it would take. I started working in this area 20 years ago. My first robot studies were in 2001 and I launched my first company in 2007. It’s been a long road.
LN: What most excites you about the aging and / or health technology market?
CK: There is a huge need for what we’re doing – there are 117 million people in the US that are chronically ill and we have a way of really making a difference for them. In addition to the patient’s medical outcome, we’re addressing the emotions of an aging population that is coping with their illness at home, often alone. It’s rewarding to see that our work is helping beyond the treatment management but in the daily lives of these people.
LN: What is your best piece of advice for startups who want to include or target the 50+ market?
CK: Spend as much time as you can with your target audience and have people on your team who are part of this segment. Our average employee age is not 20-something, I’ve worked with this population since I *was* 20-something. We make sure to understand our customers and their needs on the clinical side, it’s just as important to understand our patients too. That means spending time with them and opening up a conversation to learn what works and what doesn’t.
LN: Do you have any other products in development?
CK: We are rolling out products in three disease states (congestive heart failure, rheumatoid arthritis and kidney cancer) the first half of this year and have others in development that we’ll announce at a later time. Follow us on Twitter at @cataliahealth to stay up-to-date on our latest announcements.
LN: Where do you see Catalia Health five years from now?
CK: In five years from now we’ll be helping a lot more patients. We will grow by several new disease states and tens of thousands of patients per year.
LN: Anything else you’d like to share?
CK: We’re always looking for people who want to try out Mabu, customers who want to deploy Mabu (pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, insurers), and anyone that wants to join the Catalia Health team. Visit our website to learn more about working with Mabu or for job opportunities.
Dr. Cory Kidd is the founder and CEO of Catalia Health. Dr. Kidd has been working in healthcare technology for nearly two decades. The focus of his work has been applying innovative technologies towards solving large-scale healthcare challenges. His previous company, Intuitive Automata, created interactive coaches for weight loss. Prior to this, Dr. Kidd received his M.S. and Ph.D. at the MIT Media Lab in human-robot interaction. While there, he conducted studies that showed the psychological and clinical advantages of using a physical robot over screen-based interactions.