At HIMSS 2018, we spoke with venture capitalist Anya Scheiss and healthtech startup exec David Levin, MD, whose company Scheiss helped get off the ground.
At HIMSS 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Healthcare Analytics News™ made it a goal to speak with a few venture capitalists. By chance, we ended up speaking to Anya Scheiss, whose investment firm Healthy Ventures helped another interviewee’s startup off the ground.
David Levin, MD, is the former Chief Medical Information Officer of Cleveland Clinic. Now, he’s Chief Medical Officer of a company called Sansoro Health, which works to integrate analytics tools into EHR platforms using application programming interface (API) technology.
Levin spoke of the company’s origins, and the moment that he realized how valuable its work could be, while Scheiss discussed the importance of telling such stories in order to find investment—and in true venture capital form, speculated on Sansoro’s exit prospects.
Transcript: The Birth of Sansoro
Levin: It's always been a combination of smart folks working hard, but also good luck.
I went to dinner one night with a friend of mine Alan Portela, who is the CEO of Airstrip. As Alan and I talked over dinner and I explained to him what we were looking at doing, he got this really big smile on his face and he said “You know, I just went to my board and got approval for a significant amount of funding to go build this, but I would rather pay you guys to do it.” So the company was literally launched on a handshake over dinner.
Scheiss: We have a company in our portfolio called Sansoro Health which is essentially MuleSoft for healthcare. They've done an incredible job and what they've built is actually much more sophisticated as it applies to healthcare, but it's not rocket science. You look around at other industries see where the needs are and say “Let's build that last mile for healthcare.” And that's very valuable, and there will likely be great exit opportunities because the buyers are fairly obvious.
Levin: We bootstrapped for the first 18 months to establish the product, we got ourselves into production. We were very fortunate to meet the folks from Healthy Ventures and since they really focus on infrastructure as part of their investment thesis, this was a very natural fit.
Scheiss: A lot of our companies, it hasn't been that we necessarily needed to be convinced of their idea, it was that we needed to be convinced that they were a team that could put together their idea and package it in a way that would be understandable to your average investor and your average customer. Sansoro is a great example of that.
Levin: I can remember this very, very clearly. [When I was at Cleveland Clinic] we had a crazy smart clinician who had invented a dosing algorithm for a commonly-used drug that's very hard to dose and could be dangerous if you give too little or you give too much. Well, he had figured out an algorithm that would allow a clinician to put in a few data points and it would tell the clinician here's what you should do next.
Unfortunately, it lived as a separate application. It was not integrated into the electronic health record (EHR) and so as you can imagine very few clinicians took the time to leave the EHR get the answer and now go back. So one of the very first projects we did was to take this very simple application, and using this this new approach with API technology, integrate it right into the clinical workflow.
What we saw was the utilization went up and we actually saw some hints that that clinical quality was improving as well. That, for me, was both a personal and professional turning point, and when I look back now—that was about 6 years ago—that for me was when the light really went on.
Scheiss: Finding the articulation of the story helps you define the product and helps you then find that product market fit.