OPTIMIZE Sneak Peek #3: Interview with Cory Kidd

OPTIMIZE Sneak Peek #3: Interview with Cory Kidd

Guest blog post written by: Cynthia Seymour

Cory Kidd, Founder and CEO of Catalia Health joins leading geriatrician Dr. Bill Thomas and author Chip Conley at the upcoming Aging2.0 OPTIMIZE Conference in San Francisco November 14-15, 2017. Dr. Kidd has much to share on the themes of success and failure. His first company as a newly minted PhD from MIT coincided with the start of the Great Recession in 2007. He later founded Catalia Health and after just three years, big names in healthcare and the pharmaceutical industry have signed on.

When you speak to Dr. Kidd he will let you know he’s not an overnight success: “I’ve been at this for nearly two decades.” He had to close up shop on his first company after five years, citing his low point. But he clearly didn’t shrink from the experience. It was a catalyst to getting it right the second time. With Catalia Health, focused on artificial intelligence (AI) for healthcare, it seems he is. Backed by Khosla Ventures and an all-star cast that includes robotic engineers and an RN, he’s learned that apps won’t solve the patient treatment adherence problem in chronic disease parlance, warm, friendly health coaches in the form of “cute” almost “cuddly” robots will.

Kaiser Permanente is using their Mabu robot to help patients with heart failure tap in to a personalized conversation that encourages behavior modifications to get the best outcomes from their treatment plans. With older adults more likely to accrue chronic diseases and the skepticism surrounding technology adoption by this population, Dr. Kidd is quick to respond “It’s high tech, but it’s also engaging, friendly and approachable.” The set up process involves opening the box, plugging it in, no wi-fi to fumble with. It even adds levity as the Mabu robot will say “thanks for taking me out of the box,” and compassion “sorry to hear about your condition.” Catalia’s founder believes the success of the robot has to do with making it as simple as possible for those in their 70s who tend to prefer people to technology, while also making it beneficial to people in their 40s.

When asked how other entrepreneurs are solving age-related problems, Dr. Kidd said, “The challenge is they’re solving the wrong problem.” He believes people with tech-focused backgrounds are projecting onto healthcare. The beeps, alarms and lights of the smart pill box is a case in point. He thinks organizations started with the wrong assumption, that people needed reminders to take their meds, when the barrier was more likely to be side-effects. “The right approach is to figure out where patients are doing well, or not so well, or getting better again and seeing what’s happening along the way...What’s making me stronger?” He believes this is the aha-moment in innovation and what’s fueling his product design team.

What motivates this CEO? He’ll tell you “We’re excited about our approach. Our interface to patients goes back more than 15 years, incredibly early in terms of using AI. Now we have a great opportunity help a large number of people.” That sounds like good news for patients and society alike. According to 2017 figures from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 86 percent of the nation’s $2.7 trillion annual health care expenditures are for people with chronic and mental health conditions according to 2017 figures from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) with cardiovascular diseases topping the list.


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