Industry: Health IT
Founding Student Names: Jack Schneeman
Brief Description of Solution: For every hour a physician spends with a patient, they spend two hours in administrative work, writing patient notes into the electronic medical record. This less-valuable and less-meaningful work has been identified as the leading cause of the growing clinician burnout epidemic that now affects nearly 70 percent of physicians. While the requirements surrounding medical notetaking or charting are needed to provide consistent, high-quality, and affordable care, the toll it places on clinicians is leading to an epidemic in healthcare delivery that needs to be addressed.
Phraze created a HIPAA-compliant, artificially intelligent scribe that solves this problem by automating a significant portion of a clinician’s medical notes. It does this by: (1) collecting patient intake data prior to the clinical encounter; (2) passively listening to physician-patient conversations via any device with a microphone; (3) combining and analyzing the collected data to automatically generate clinical documentation; and (4) allowing the physician to efficiently review and sign off on the documentation on a highly intuitive platform. Initial tests and internal simulations have shown that Phraze can save clinicians 1.5 hours per day or up to 70 percent of their medical notetaking time.
Funding Dollars: Approximately $300,000
What led you to launch this venture? Our Co-CEO, Dr. Brandon McCutcheon, and his long-time friend, Dr. Logan Marcus, decided to create Phraze after personally seeing and experiencing the growing burden of medical documentation requirements while in residency. They saw this as a systemic issue driving a decline in quality of care as well as physician burnout and decided to do something about it. I joined the team later after seeing Phraze pitch at a local startup event hosted at the University of Minnesota. I was immediately interested and excited about technology.
My wife is a practicing physician assistant and often comes home after an extremely stressful day at work filled with life-or-death decisions only to spend the night continuing to chart instead of recharging for the next day. I also participated in several medical industry-related courses that taught the evaluation of new medical technologies during my MBA program. The combination of my personal experience, education, and embedded passion for exponential technologies led me to see Phraze’s potential to make a sizeable impact in healthcare. I reached out to Brandon and Logan shortly after the event at the University, and the rest is history.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with your venture? First, I think we’ve put together a stellar team. At the end of the day, a company is a group of individuals working toward a common purpose, so having an A-team is critical. Brandon, Logan, Ash, Khush, and Chris have a vast breadth and depth of experience in healthcare delivery, IT deployment, and sales and can really make Phraze successful. They are also a fantastic group to work with and are excited about creating a culture where exceptional individuals can thrive and make an impact both at our company and in the healthcare industry.
We are also really excited about getting our launched product in our first clinic before starting to push out into the larger market. We believe we’ve created something special and want to get it into the hands of as many clinicians as possible.
How has your MBA program helped you further this startup venture? The Carlson School of Management really helped me refocus and double down on the medical industry. It’s an incredibly complex market space and understanding its nuances is essential to a healthcare startup’s success. There were a number of courses I took where we were evaluating real-world medical technologies, understanding the healthcare marketplace, and learning about healthcare IT that helped pave the way for me at Phraze.
Further, the leadership, strategy, and entrepreneurship classes I took created a foundation of tools required to lead a startup. While I had a lot of leadership experience from my time serving in the military, transitioning it to a business environment required some re-tooling. That’s where a lot of the MBA curriculum came in handy. Lastly, networks are so much more important than you initially think. While I felt I was strongly connected in the private equity and investment banking space from my previous careers, the startup and venture capital community are a few steps removed. The Carlson School went above-and-beyond to connect me to the local startup community, which has been invaluable.
What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? My dad, Eric Schneeman, has always been a fantastic entrepreneurial role model for me. Years ago, he started a company that his employer, Securian, helped fund and he would often bring some of his nine children (I’m the second-oldest) into the office with him. I remember the culture of the place more than anything. People seemed to love working there and working toward a common goal. He also showed me that hard work, kindness, and a passion for problem-solving can go a long way.
Which MBA class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? Definitely the Medical Industry Leadership Institute’s Valuation Lab. This course enabled a group of cross-functional Master’s and Ph.D. students to take a new medical technology and, in the course of a semester, research and present findings on whether investors should put money into the product and if inventors should continue pursuing the project. We analyzed market sizing, reimbursement, regulation, intellectual property, financial analysis, technological review, and voice-of-the-customer in order to establish our conclusion – and each project brought about new challenges. I found this course incredibly relevant as an entrepreneur, so I ended up becoming a Medical Leadership Institute Fellow and continued the work in a global program in Sweden. It’s an exceptionally innovative course that has taught me many lessons I’ll continue to carry with me.
What is your long-term goal with your startup? Our purpose is to transform healthcare delivery to enhance the clinician experience and improve patient outcomes. We imagine a future where medical providers and technology work symbiotically to improve the cost, quality, and experience of care. So our long-term goals are to create healthcare’s most-loved digital medical scribe, reduce the time clinicians spend on notes to near zero, and simultaneously provide meaningful information to clinicians and healthcare institutions.
If we can do this, Phraze will revolutionize care delivery for the better. We also want to create a company where people are passionate about coming into work and solving significant societal challenges. We are ecstatic about our future and look forward to continuing our journey there day-by-day.
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