In the latest episode of Impetus Digital‘s Fireside Chat, I sat down with Aaron Leibtag, CEO & Co-Founder of Pentavere Research Group. Among many other things, we discussed his transition from being an Organizational Transformation Leader to co-founding a startup focused on healthcare technology. We also dived into how Pentavere’s technology can be used to extract real-world evidence (RWE) and Life Saving Insights (LSIs) trapped in large repositories of existing unstructured healthcare data.
Here is a sneak peek of our conversation:
Q: Can you tell us about your entrepreneurial journey?
A: We did not join the MaRS Discovery District right away; what we did join was another incubator in Toronto called the Biomedical Zone in St. Michael’s Hospital. We joined it at the same time when we came across a company that has a large repository of digitized health records. They had the right to be able to use and do work on them. What was interesting about these health records is that I would classify them as the most unstructured, hardest data to actually lay the foundations of trying to solve a problem. Think about hundreds of thousands of digitized PDF documents, with different sources and different levels of quality. How can we get insights out of a corpus like that? It was through working through that problem and then testing it out in these hackathons that we found that we were onto something.
The next step to your question was how do we get it validated? It is one thing to say that we want a hackathon and beat out some very established, prestigious players. It is another thing to say that a hospital will put their brand and their credibility on the validation of your technology. The Biomedical Zone happened to be the only incubator of its type in Canada that was designed to do that. As a partnership between the University and St. Michael’s hospital, you are actually embedded in the hospital, and on top of general business coaching, it was really around “we’re going to immerse you in the complexity and joys of the healthcare system. More importantly, we are going to problem-solve how to validate your technology.” We did that over the course of 1.5–2 years. We had very little to no revenue coming in, we were just passionate about the problem. We had some mentors at St. Michael’s Hospital who said, “Let’s set up a proper study to compare the output of your AI to if people are manually reviewing and trying to pull the information out of these records”. To give you an idea of what these records look like [shows a thick printout of a patient record], this is a printout of a single patient’s electronic health record. That is 200 patient pages of all the information you need to understand the patient journey. Manual instructors go through that type of content today to make sense of it.
We did the test and we went through that validation. It is now published in a reputable journal and it did phenomenally well. It happened to be one of the life science companies that we were talking about today as one of our greatest supporters, best customers, innovative, collaborative partners. He said, “Are you telling me you have created a technology that can replace or augment manual chart review?” And we said that “we think so, but first, speak to the clinicians who validated our study.”
To give you an idea around scale, after tuning our engine process, we went through 85,000 patients and extracted 76 different variables in a day. It took a team of 5 people months to check a random sampling of under 1000 records. Think about discovering and understanding patient outcomes, journeys, and co-morbidities from 85,000 patients. It is just not done today…
For more of our discussion, you can watch the whole Fireside Chat with Aaron Leibtag, or listen to the podcast version, below.
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Impetus Digital is the spark behind sustained healthcare stakeholder communication, collaboration, education, and insight synthesis. Our best-in-class technology and professional services ensure that life science organizations around the world can easily and cost-effectively grow and prosper—from brand or idea discovery to development, commercialization, execution, and beyond—in collaboration with colleagues, customers, healthcare providers, payers, and patients.