MBA Program: Columbia Business School
Industry: Health Tech / Digital Health
Founding Student Name(s): Laurence Coman (Columbia ’20 MBA)
Brief Description of Solution: avoMD is a software platform that empowers hospitals and physicians to seamlessly create and use complex clinical protocols. This technology enables hospitals to distribute and deploy standardized care pathways across its provider base and also provides a better way for physicians to learn and implement evidence-based protocols at the point of care.
The platform consists of two tools.
1) The Point of Care App is a mobile app that presents complicated guidelines and medical info in easy-to-access, digestible formats.
2) The avoBuilder enables physicians and hospital users, without programming experience, to easily create, review, and update interactive protocols that can be used on the Point of Care App.
Funding Dollars: Undisclosed
What led you to launch this venture? While dealing with the day-to-day difficulties in medical training and clinical practice, my co-founder Dr. Joongheum Park, a physician and software developer, struggled to access appropriate and updated medical information quickly at the point of care. Dr. Park was not alone in dealing with this issue—the exponential growth of medical knowledge and inaccessibility of the latest guidelines (which are distributed in lengthy articles or physical binders) contributes to medical errors, billions of dollars of avoidable costs, and physician burnout.
To better deal with these challenges himself, Dr. Park created the first app prototype for avoMD six years ago. He soon made the app available to his peers on the App Store where it was eventually downloaded by ~40K providers. In 2018, he recruited Dr. Saperstein and myself (Laurence Coman) to turn the idea into a business.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? While we’re proud of several of our recent accomplishments, one that particularly stands out is winning Columbia’s annual startup competition. Other notable accomplishments include signing our first hospital customer, procuring a large investment from the Lang Entrepreneurial Initiative Fund, and inking a research partnership with Samsung Medical Center (2nd largest hospital in Korea).
How has your MBA program helped you further this startup venture? The Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center’s staff, course offerings, advisor and alumni network, funding vehicle (the Lang Entrepreneurial Initiative Fund), and access to seats in the Columbia Startup Lab have been instrumental to avoMD’s growth and development. We’ve been genuinely lucky to be a part of the Lang Center family.
Additionally, the Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Management Program (HPM) has been tremendously valuable for us. I came to school with no professional experience in healthcare, so HPM’s rich curriculum allowed me to not only learn about the healthcare basics but also delve deeper into topics such as delivery models and healthcare IT. Mentorship programs, speaker events, and the student healthcare club (HCIA) provided me with the people and advice to further advance avoMD’s business model and go-to-market approach.
Certain people from Columbia have also been vital to avoMD’s progression. Angela Lee, Jeremy Kagan, and the whole Lang Center team have been endlessly supportive. I wouldn’t have met Dr. Park if it wasn’t for Bunny Ellerin, the Director of HPM, who has also been incredible.
What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? My parents! They’re both physicians who worked endlessly to provide for the family and do the best by their patients. Making software for doctors is my consolation prize to them for not having gone to med school.
What professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? Ray Falci, an adjunct professor at CBS and health tech veteran, provided me the framework for understanding opportunities and challenges in the industry landscape and now serves as an advisor to the company. Health tech is a complicated and difficult environment to exist in, and both Ray’s class and his advice have better equipped me to navigate through these challenges.
How did the pandemic impact your startup plans? As an immediate response, we released free and public COVID-related pathways based on curated advice from the CDC, WHO, and other relevant resources to help physicians access the rapidly-changing COVID guidelines efficiently. Over the long term, we believe COVID-19 highlights the need for a tool to both develop and deploy protocols easily and quickly and anticipate our value prop will become more evident as a result.
What is your long-term goal with your startup? Creating a technology that can improve physicians’ lives and ultimately drive better patient outcomes.
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