Startup Insider: 3 questions with Clarify Health CEO Dr. Jean Drouin

Two years ago, Jean Drouin, MD, and Todd Gottula founded Clarify Health to improve healthcare workflows and patient engagement.

The San Francisco-based startup applies advanced analytics and artificial intelligence to guide patients and caregivers through personalized treatment journeys, while also coordinating care among the clinical team. Today, Dr. Drouin serves as Clarify Health's CEO alongside Mr. Gottula, the startup's CFO and chief technology officer.

Becker's Hospital Review caught up with Dr. Drouin to discuss about the startup's background, culture and goals for the future.

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: What prompted you to found Clarify Health?

Dr. Jean Drouin: I went to medical school, and as I was going through departments, I saw an unbelievable amount of waste that was making it difficult for clinicians and nurses to do their jobs. In part because of this, I decided not to go on to residency. I ended up at [the management consulting firm] McKinsey, where I spent 15 years. All the while, I saw technology taking a leap forward in other industries, especially regarding big data and analytics.

For example, there's UPS and FedEx. As a consumer, they allow you to see where the package is in real time and change its route. The system FedEx uses has three components: analytics, the ability to track the asset they're interested in and the ability to orchestrate their workers' work. In healthcare, we have the same three components: analytics, patient monitoring and care coordination.

These forces make it possible to create that FedEx-type system. We've come at it to clarify the workflow for clinicians — and once you've achieved that clarity, you want to give that care map to patients and make those care maps dynamic with real-time patient tracking. So while I was at McKinsey, I put together a business plan and took it to four or five health system CEOs. They said if I thought I could make it happen, I should pursue it. A friend of mine put me in touch with Todd Gottula, whose background is in finance, and he came over with a team of engineers.

Q: How would you characterize Clarify Health's company culture?

JD: We're now up to 22 employees. Unusually for a startup, the average age of our employees is something around 30 or 36. We have experienced engineers and colleagues who have turned away far more lucrative opportunities because they're more passionate about wanting to build a platform that enables seamless and successful journeys of care.

The culture is incredibly collaborative, upbeat and mission-driven — and in a way, it has to be that way, particularly when you're trying to start a company in Silicon Valley. If all you're doing is competing on salary, it doesn't work. People look for purpose and meaning in what they do, and that's what we've tried to create.

Q: What's on the horizon for Clarify Health?

JD: We initially focused on orthopedic models, specifically starting with hips and knees because of the mandatory bite from the Medicare incentive. As we look ahead, cardiac is another area that's ripe for maturity, and then we'll proceed on to oncology. It's about expanding the number of episodes we do — such as cardiac or oncology — but also about extending the reach of the dataset, so we're eventually able to touch on population health.

More articles on health IT:
Startup Insider: 5 questions with Integra Connect CEO Dr. Charles Saunders
Why Sanford Health is sharing patient data with its academic neighbors
5 questions with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital CIO Keith Perry

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