Asa part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Richard Rodriguez of WITHmyDOC.
As President and CEO of WITHmyDOC, Richard Rodriguez combines his previous healthcare background with his technology experience, coming full circle to transform healthcare. He began his career as a state-certified paramedic, working both as a first responder and onsite at hospitals, while obtaining degrees in Accounting and Information Systems from Florida Atlantic University. During his 20 years in the technology sector, he co-founded Centuric, LLC, a technology engineering and management company. Richard is also the co-founder of Axcess Americas, a software company that developed a platform for mortgage banking and loan administration in the US and Canadian markets, eventually selling the company to an Australian partner. He is passionately involved with the South Florida community having served as a board member of the Executive’s Association of Fort Lauderdale, The Riverwalk Trust, and Junior Achievement. He is also a past board member of the Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce and is the former Treasurer for Habitat for Humanity of Broward. Richard was instrumental in co-founding the South Florida Chapter of the Cloud Security Alliance.
Thank you for joining us in this series, Richard. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Helping others has always been part of my DNA. I worked my way through college as a paramedic and loved the fast-paced nature of the job, but the ability to help others on daily basis is what I most enjoyed. You had to make decisions quickly, trusting your instincts and your training. They taught us in paramedic training — there is no 911 for you — you are 911! Plus, it was gratifying — even though, rarely is the patient in a condition to say ‘thank-you’, when you do a good job, you know it and can feel it. Working in technology takes a very different skill set from that in many ways, but it’s also a fast-paced industry where you have to think on your feet and be nimble. The opportunity to combine my healthcare background with technology was an ideal fit for my personality. So, I guess you could say I’ve come full circle, back in healthcare and helping people, but this time with technology.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I delivered three babies while I was a paramedic; I’ve always thought that was pretty interesting! But looking back at the beginning of my business career, I would say I learned some interesting lessons about the different work styles of other countries. When my partner and I founded one of our first companies many years ago, we had partners in Australia and customers in Canada. We quickly observed some key differences in the way we all approached our work. Australians take a three-month summer vacation and work comes to halt. While Canadians have a more relaxed way about them. We definitely learned a lot about the work styles of people of different cultures and the way they communicate.
Can you tell us about the cutting edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?
Essentially, we are using AI for preventative health maintenance. WITHmyDOC is a digital health company that uses a web-based intelligence platform to monitor patients and transmit real-time physiologic data to healthcare providers. Our RPM@Home™ product is a remote patient monitoring (RPM) kit that supports chronic care management and telehealth visits. We connect patients to their care teams, providing the real-time data needed to control symptom and disease progression. It allows healthcare providers to review patients’ physiologic data as frequently as needed between office visits, making it easier to detect, diagnose and treat symptoms.
WITHmyDOC’s RPM platform delivers predictive analytics through advanced artificial intelligence. We can use that data to show a patient how staying on their current trajectory could increase their chance for disease progression or how making a few changes in their lifestyle could decrease those chances. We are now able to offer guidance and solutions specific to one person based on scientific analysis to help them make necessary adjustments. It’s transforming healthcare.
How do you think this might change the world?
We are taking Big Data healthcare to an individual level and empowering people to take charge of their health. Most people want to take care of themselves so they can have a better life for themselves and their families. Our platform helps them do that.
Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?
In our world we have a technology gap. The people who have access to the best tech tools are using them to better their lives, and the people who don’t have those capabilities are obviously going to fall behind. As a society, we want to always be striving for ways to make technology available to all regardless of socioeconomic status.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?
Over the past 20 years I’ve seen a lot of great technology solutions that end up creating data silos. There are good devices that compile a lot of helpful user data, but it doesn’t go anywhere. Recognizing the limitations in that, my partners and I are making sure our data is open and available. If we control the patient data, it’s not serving its purpose of helping others lead a better, healthier life. WITHmyDOC’s RPM@Home is a patient-centric platform that is both device- and EHR-agnostic. The ability to transmit vital signs and other essential physiological data in real time directly to the healthcare provider’s dashboard allows for earlier intervention and can make a real difference in outcomes.
What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?
We are well on our way to adoption, but continued acceptance is going to open the gates. COVID-19 has moved the needle in healthcare technology, showing that virtual health is a real solution. CMS has adopted reimbursement schedules for virtual healthcare options. Healthcare providers and their patients are getting used to it now, and they will continue to become more familiar with it. Our job is to keep building the features and functionality that will aid in the process. A good example is our current focus on the RPM@Home kit for treating less severe COVID-19 patients at home as a risk mitigation tool that proactively protects patients, reduces the spread of infection and helps alleviate the current hospital capacity issues.
What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?
Telehealth in general has been getting a lot of attention, but we are capitalizing on the opportunity to show how it can be advanced beyond a simple video call with your provider. There are inefficiencies in that Facetime model, and we have an opportunity to educate people on how to “get enough health from their telehealth.”
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My business partner Frank Peluso is a technology genius. We have been working together for over 20 years, and I’m continually awed by how he can bring ideas to life. Because he’s an engineer and highly intelligent, he often takes a different path to a solution that most people might not understand. I understand his thought processes though, which allows me to be the liaison with our customers. It’s a beautiful partnership of technology and business.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I’m honored to serve on the boards of many fantastic organizations focused on education, including Junior Achievement. I always say I was born with the philanthropy gene; my family raised me to give back. As we find success in business, it’s incumbent upon all of us to make that commitment to giving back right into our community. It must be part of the mission and DNA.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
A better way to raise capital. WITHmyDOC has taken a traditional path in the VC process, and it has been an eye-opening one for me. As someone who feels very passionate about what we’re offering and wanting to get it into more hands quickly, the structure around raising capital feels so inefficient and unnecessarily slow. That’s the adrenaline in me talking!
Have patience with the process. My personality is such that I like to see things happen quickly. I believe we work hard and we should see the end results of that work moving forward. The reality is, what is a long-time for me, is considered a short time for most others, especially in healthcare. Having more patience with the process is definitely something that I continue to work on.
Managing people can be difficult. I love working with teams to see a concept through to execution and success, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to working with different personalities can be challenging at times. This is an area I have struggled with throughout my career, however being an effective leader demands that I keep learning from mistakes, discovering new ways to motivate and lead by example.
Being an entrepreneur is a dramatic ride. Choosing this life means living through many ups and downs. There are no days off, and there are a lot of highs and lows. I didn’t set out to be an entrepreneur, but it turned out to be a natural progression for me in the business world. The exciting times are a wonderful boost, but I wish I had been better prepared for the slower, sometimes excruciating waiting that happens on the flip side of that.
The real successes are going to come from seeing your team’s success. WITHmyDOC went from an idea my partner and I had to a company that has created jobs that support families. We have built a culture where people are proud of what they do, and I love being a part of that. If I knew our hard work would eventually allow some of our employees to put their children through college, it would have given me even more motivation in those early days.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would like to change the way healthcare is delivered to people around the globe. It is so important to keep working toward solutions that will make quality healthcare possible everywhere. When people have the resources to take care of themselves — eating good, nutritious foods, for example — it inherently brings about a happier, thriving world.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“If you want to take the island, burn the boats.” That quote is attributed to Julius Caesar over 2,000 years ago, and it has always inspired me. To be successful, we must go after what we want with dedication and purpose, removing all the excuses not to be successful. In my mind, allowing for the possibility of excuses means you’re going to fail.
Some very well-known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
WITHmyDOC is the future of healthcare. As telemedicine continues taking on a more significant role in healthcare delivery, remote patient monitoring and the RPM@Home patient kit will be key drivers in the transformation.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can follow me on LinkedIn and you can follow WITHmyDOC on Twitter @WITHmyDOC and on LinkedIn.