EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Young Entrepreneurs Bring High Tech to Quell Surgical Fears

The last thing George Kramb expected from years of walking surgeons through actual operations using medical machinery was to step into a role that helped guide patients worldwide through their own medical journeys.

Kramb (above, pictured left) and his partner, Patrick Frank, are listed on the “2021 Forbes 30 Under 30” list in recognition of their status as rising stars in the business world for their efforts in cofounding Rightdevice. Every year, Forbes recognizes young entrepreneurs, activists, scientists and entertainers for the 30 Under 30 list.

Kramb and Frank used their years of experience in medical technology and patient care to develop a way to turn the daunting surgical process into a positive and comforting experience.

Rightdevice connects patients through relatable experiences. It’s PatientPartner program is the first service that connects pre-surgical patients directly with fully recovered patients who went through the same surgery, often with the same surgeon.

Though far from doctors themselves, Rightdevice’s cofounders are on calls every day with patients, patient partners, surgeons, and representatives from the healthcare industry.

Kramb told TechNewsWorld that the common thread from these conversations is the same theme of, “I wish I had this when I went through my surgery,” or “Why did I not know about this sooner?” Or from a surgeon’s perspective, “I tried to do something similar for my practice, but I couldn’t find the time or resources to do it.”

“These types of comments tell us that both the patient population and the industry need this; hearing these types of comments reminds us every day of the mission we are on to make healthcare a better place, one patient at a time,” he asserted.

Their selection to the Forbes annual list underscores the importance of the work still ahead for Rightdevice, added cofounder Frank.

“This designation from Forbes reminds us of all of the work we have in front of us to build something that will drive long-term impact in the healthcare community, he told TechNewsWorld.

Program Goals

This PatientPartner program is designed to assist surgeons, hospitals, and device companies in building a long-term referral network of patients by creating a one-of-a-kind patient experience. The peer-to-peer approach to patient advocacy gives users the opportunity to learn from real experiences. It also helps empower patients to achieve more successful outcomes through connectivity.

PatientPartner’s mission is to empower and educate patients by providing personalized one-on-one support all through relatable experiences, noted Frank. By doing this, the cofounders hope to build a network of empowered and educated patients paired with a group of world-class physicians.

“We want to take patient experience to the forefront of the healthcare industry,” Frank said.

The cofounders hope to expand that mission this year into several surgical disciplines and project to have over 500 PatientPartners at the end of 2021. The PatientPartner program is a perfect blend of what surgeons are needing, what hospitals are providing, and how the industry can participate in patient engagement, Kramb noted.

Getting There

The entrepreneurial pair learned about their selection for the 2021 Forbes 30 Under 30 list at 5:00 a.m. when a buzzing phone texted Kramb with congratulations.

He had no idea for what. The Forbes process is very secretive. I was not until Kramp combed through the technology section of the Forbes website to find his and Frank’s picture that he began to understand that the two made the cut from among thousands of applicants.

The application process is definitely not simple; and took a lot of work, thought, and effort, according to Frank.

“To make it onto the list, you actually have to go through several steps! Yes, you have to apply, and in the case where your cofounders are both under 30, both of you have to apply,” he said.

If you move forward in the process, applicants must write personal essays that range from discussing the business, thoughts on the state of the economy, and personal experiences such as “the worst advice you have ever received.”

Then you have to supply references. In some cases, applicants have a follow-up interview.

Behind the Scenes

TechNewsWorld further explored with Kramb and Frank the Rightdevice concept — and how PatientPartners was created and developed.

TechNewsWorld: How might your selection by Forbes contribute to the growth of the Rightdevice program?

Frank: Being selected for the Under 30 designation impacts us in a tremendous way. The consumer technology side of healthcare is an industry that is always skeptical of newcomers. Especially when the founders are still in their twenties.

This designation helps validate what we are doing and gives us credibility when talking with tenured executives in the industry. This sense of trust is also something that users of our platforms need in order to know that what we are providing though novel, is trusted.

TNW: How did you get the idea for developing the Rightdevice platform?

Kramb: Prior to starting Rightdevice, I was a medical device representative, which required me to be in the operating room helping the surgeon perform surgery. I was in hundreds of operations and even had the opportunity to meet and know a few of the patients.

That led me to see a huge unmet need in the surgical world. From these patient conversations, I saw how much stress, fear, and uncertainty there was in this experience and wanted to change that. That’s when I paired up with Patrick to build a company that will radically change the way patients navigate through their surgical journey.

TNW: How are your backgrounds particularly tuned into medical or patient needs?

Kramb: Spending my entire career in both patient care and in roles working directly with surgeons, I have a unique aspect of the industry unlike many others. I have been able to talk with patients going through these operations both pre- and post-operatively.

Working in the surgical suite, I understand how hospitals and surgery centers operate, what motivates them, and how to make it more efficient. Working with surgeons, I know their pain points, what needs improvement, and how to implement technology to do so.

Patrick’s background is much more on the consumer technology side and empowering consumers through technology. With our consumers ultimately being patients, it ended up being the perfect blend of what we needed to build our platform.

TNW: How does PatientPartner program work?

Frank: We connect pre-operative patients to fully recovered patients who have already been through the same surgery — and in many cases with the same surgeon. We use a proprietary patent-pending matching system that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to curate the most relatable connections for patients who are preparing for surgery.

Our PatientPartners are not compensated and freely volunteer their time to give back to others. Because of this, we want to continue the sense of altruism and giving back. That is why we donate to a charity of the PatientPartner’s choice for every conversation that they have with an incoming patient on our platform.

TNW: What additional services do you have planned for the future?

Kramb: We plan on rolling out several features going into 2021. They all focus on creating a world-class experience on our platform. We will be automating the scheduling features, both for calls and booking appointments with surgeon offices.

Also, we will be allowing for different types of connections via Zoom, text, and email, in addition to our standard phone call offering. The last addition will be a patient portal where patients can find and keep track of everything that they need to best prepare for their surgery and for post-op recovery.

TNW: What hurdles did you confront in developing the Rightdevice platform?

Frank: The largest hurdle we have encountered is that nothing like this has ever existed. It is something that a few patients have already done with their close network. But not everyone has this luxury.

That being said, that hurdle is patient education and building trust with patients. In healthcare, there is always skepticism with new ideas and ensuring that patients know that we are here for them, for free, and the advice they are getting is not coming from someone who is being paid. That issue has been the most important hurdle for us to scale across.

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open-source technologies. He is an esteemed reviewer of Linux distros and other open-source software. In addition, Jack extensively covers business technology and privacy issues, as well as developments in e-commerce and consumer electronics. Email Jack.

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