Doctorpreneurs: Dr Rishi Verma

This week's Doctorpreneur of the Week is Dr Rishi Verma.

Rishi is a medical doctor and aerospace engineer with a passion for bridging the gap between technology and medicine.

He co-founded Stethy, an AI assistant to help doctors in diagnosing and treating patients.

What startup did you found?

I founded Stethy in 2018 together with my co-founder Samanvay.

Stethy started off as the goal to create a world where everyone has access to instant, affordable and safe medical care at any time and place.

What is its noble purpose?

Stethy is an AI doctor that assists human doctors in diagnosing and treating patients.

Working as doctor in the hospital system I more than often would have sleepless nights at home worrying about whether I made a mistake about patient care during the previous working day.

Speaking to other doctors I realised due to the high volume of patients that they see, this is quite a common problem - forgetting to ask certain questions in the history, forgetting to order certain tests etc. This problem was one of the many reasons why we built Stethy.

We are currently in six clinics in Sydney and have been used by over 4,500 patients and doctors. To give you an idea about how Stethy works, I have linked our YouTube demo video:

We have touch screen kiosks deployed in clinic waiting rooms, in which our AI Stethy asks the patient about their symptoms. Stethy then generates a diagnosis which is sent to the doctor. The doctor subsequently has information about the patient’s diagnosis prior to them being seen.

Stethy works in four key areas:

1. Stethy gives the symptoms and a proposed diagnosis before the patient walks into their treatment room. This allows the doctor time to think and prepare what to ask.

2. Boosts doctor efficiency by allowing them to see on average 2 more patients per hour.

3. Reduces patient wait times.

4. Streamlines clinic workflow: automates triage and frees up staff time.

Tell me about the first 10 years of your life?

I was born and bred in western Sydney. I was obsessively into cricket at a very young age, and most of my afternoons after school were spent at the local cricket nets, which also led to my first job.

What age were you when you had your first paying job? What was it?

My first job was at 15 years old and I was the batting coach for the local under 11s Cricket team.

What made you want to be a Doctor and what speciality did you choose?

My path towards medicine took the unconventional route. I initially wanted to be an astronaut, and subsequently studied Aerospace engineering at university.

Much to my horror I realised that Australia did not exactly have a space agency, and NASA was not taking any astronaut applicants in the foreseeable future.

During my engineering studies I chose electives based on how easy I thought they were. I ended up choosing optics and biomed, and was involved in designing intraocular lenses and a patella-femoral prosthesis.

I became interested in the human aspect of engineering and how much of an improvement these prostheses made to the patients’ lives. I wanted to be a part of the whole journey from designing the product to helping patients use it. This was the reason as to why I chose to study medicine.

What made you want to be an Entrepreneur? When exactly did you decide?

There was not a specific instance, I have always had it in me ever since I was young and Stethy was just the natural progression of these interests.

I was always hustling for the extra bit of pocket money I could get. In high school I permanently carried three boxes of black pens in my schoolbag, and sold them to whoever forgot to bring one or needed an extra one.

I ended up selling about 50 pens a week, and it got so out of hand that I started hiring other students to help me.

Are you still practicing as a Doctor now? If yes do you intend to stop if your organisation takes off?

I am currently working as the Ophthalmology SRMO at a hospital in Sydney. I think it is important that I maintain a connection to the medical field as the organisation continues to grow not only to ensure I retain clinical acumen but also to ensure I can continue to contribute to the medical side of Stethy.

Why do you think traditionally many Doctors struggle with entrepreneurship?

The reason is that they require totally different mindsets. In medicine we are taught to think in quite a structured and rigid framework when solving problems – which often functions to be inflexible and restrictive.

Whereas entrepreneurship is about the freedom of experimentation and pivoting until the right solution is found. Reconciling these two differences is the hard part.

Another equally important reason is that the time commitment required working as a full-time doctor often is too great that it hinders others from taking the leap into the entrepreneurial path.

What is your favourite quote?

“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favour”.

Elon Musk.

What would you do in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse?

I would convince them to work for me as they will probably make great salespeople.

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