“My key piece of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to cultivate a deep passion for the problem you’re aiming to solve.” So says Guillermo Ramas, Founder and CEO of NotiSphere, and one thing that’s incredibly clear from our interview with him is this: he has a very deep passion when it comes to healthcare.
Perhaps that shouldn’t be surprising. Guillermo has almost three decades of experience in the industry, and throughout that time he’s aimed to tackle the problems he sees rather than simply live them. If it involves designing, developing and bringing innovative solutions to market then all the better.
Guillermo is the Founder and CEO of NotiSphere, a healthcare technology startup that aims to revolutionise how medical supply disruption communications are handled. That could be the difference between life and death for a patient who would otherwise be fitted with a product that had been recalled. Except that the surgeon knew nothing about the recall, as the recall notice was effectively stuck in the mail.
Read on to find out how NotiSphere is solving this problem, and for Guillermo’s advice to potential investors and entrepreneurs.
What’s your elevator pitch?
NotiSphere is revolutionising the healthcare industry by tackling a longstanding issue: the inefficient and error-prone process of medical device recalls. Our platform serves as a real-time conduit, connecting manufacturers, distributors and healthcare providers to expedite critical recall communications.
By replacing outdated procedures involving certified mail and paper alerts, NotiSphere drastically reduces the time it takes for recall alerts to reach the right personnel. This not only enhances operational efficiency but significantly elevates patient safety.
Beyond recalls, we aspire to become the industry’s go-to solution for managing all forms of supply chain disruptions. We’re committed to driving transparency, ensuring an audit trail for easy reporting, and freeing healthcare staff to dedicate their time to patient care rather than paperwork.
What made you launch a startup?
I’ve dedicated 27 years of my career to healthcare supply chain technology with a particular focus on the hospital/provider side. A few years back, I was enlightened about the process of managing medical device recalls. I was always aware that healthcare providers faced significant challenges in keeping up with these recalls, to ensure patient safety isn’t compromised. However, I was taken aback by the realisation that the obstacles confronting suppliers were equally formidable, if not worse.
Astoundingly, this problem has persisted for decades largely due to a lack of understanding between the two sides of the industry about each other’s challenges. If there had been a better mutual understanding, they would likely have collaborated to find a solution to this problem years ago.
Recognising that this issue had remained unresolved for over 40 years, and seeing that past attempted solutions had unintentionally bred further inefficiencies, I felt compelled to act. The solution to this problem lies in building connections among industry stakeholders. This challenge requires collaboration, effective communication and a commitment to transparency. Launching NotiSphere seemed not just an opportunity, but a necessity for the betterment of the industry.
What exact problem are you trying to solve?
Presently, when a medical device recall occurs, manufacturers are obliged to notify all facilities that received the affected product. To verify these notifications, manufacturers use a system of certified mail. This results in a deluge of paper alerts at various locations within every health system, which must then be redirected to the relevant personnel within the organisation.
This conventional system leads to a lengthy process where it can take over two-and-a-half weeks for a recall alert to reach the appropriate individual at a hospital who can then initiate the necessary action. While this might not seem consequential for non-critical items like band-aids, it becomes a matter of grave concern when the products involved are implantable devices or ones that could cause serious harm to patients. Examples include infusion machines, scanners and breast implants. For a patient scheduled for a procedure during this lag period, those two-and-a-half weeks can be critically important.
Furthermore, the existing process places an unnecessary burden on hospital staff, causing them to spend five to six times the amount of time they should be checking for recalled items in their inventory. This equates to thousands of hours that could have been better utilised for patient care, instead of being wasted on managing recalls.
Can you talk us through your journey so far? What’s a major milestone you’ve reached?
Our journey has been one of relentless dedication, strategic collaboration and continuous learning. We have strived to ensure that all suggestions from health systems and suppliers are not just heard, but integrated into the design and functionality of our platform. Today, I am proud to say that some of the leading health systems in the country are utilising our platform, which is a testament to our collective hard work and innovative approach.
A particularly rewarding milestone was witnessing the impact of our platform on the speed of communication. We saw numerous recall alerts sent through our platform resulting in suppliers receiving acknowledgements in less than 30 minutes — a monumental improvement compared to the traditional, weeks-long process the industry had grown accustomed to.
In a further validation of our mission, the Healthcare Industry Resilience Collaborative (HIRC) recently utilised our platform to send out a communication to 23 suppliers. This event emphasised our commitment to revolutionise the recall process by significantly enhancing transparency and, ultimately, patient safety.
The journey so far has been incredibly rewarding, and we are more motivated than ever to continue driving positive change within the healthcare industry.
Who are your main competitors and what distinguishes your startup from them?
Our competition manifests in two forms:
- The first is the status quo. Within the healthcare supply chain, the personnel often grapple with numerous urgent situations and emergencies. In such a dynamic environment, the path of least resistance is often to continue with existing processes, despite the recognition that they are inefficient and offer significant room for improvement.
- The second form of competition comes from legacy solutions that emerged over 15 years ago when the volume of recalls was relatively low. These systems involve processes that have over time become excessively time-consuming and resource-intensive.
In both these scenarios, there is a glaring absence of a direct, real-time connection between the supplier and provider. This disconnection leads to providers expending five times more effort than necessary, and even worse, potentially hazardous items often remain unnoticed on the shelves, posing a risk to patients.
What sets our startup apart is our unique value proposition of direct, real-time connectivity between suppliers and providers. We are the only solution in the market that provides a centralised platform for healthcare providers to manage all their communications regarding recalls. This differentiator not only streamlines the recall process but also plays a pivotal role in ensuring patient safety. Our commitment to innovation and patient safety truly distinguishes us from the competition.
Where do you hope your startup will be in ten years?
Looking a decade ahead, we aim to establish our platform as the go-to solution for all healthcare supply chain disruption communications in the industry. Our goal is to facilitate every type of communication necessary between manufacturers, distributors, and healthcare providers.
This will encompass everything from handling product shortages and back orders to managing market withdrawals, item consolidation, recalls, field service alerts and many other types of communications. Keep in mind what I am talking about here is the communications that need to take place to manage and resolve these situations, and not the transaction information that typically takes place through electronic means today (such as EDI backorder information).
We envisage our platform as a hub of transparency, providing an auditable trail that allows for effortless reporting on any action at the click of a button. Our ambition goes beyond just synchronising all stakeholders; we aim to drastically reduce the time it takes for these facilities to receive alerts and mitigate the effort dedicated to managing these disruptions.
In essence, our vision for the future is a streamlined, efficient and transparent healthcare supply chain where all stakeholders can communicate seamlessly. This will not only enhance operational efficiency but also significantly improve patient safety, which is the core value driving our enterprise. By reducing friction in the system, we free up providers to focus on what truly matters: delivering the best possible care to their patients.
What would you say to potential investors reading this interview?
In the realm of the healthcare supply chain, transformation often takes time to unfold. Key technological advancements like the adoption of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) for orders have shown us that while initial adoption may be slow, once these innovations are embraced, they precipitate widespread change and have a significant, far-reaching impact on the industry.
The healthcare supply chain sector, being inherently risk-averse and cautious, does not embrace change easily, but once everything lines up, the industry moves and effects change.
Our startup is at the forefront of such a shift. We are offering a unique solution to a persistent problem that has burdened the industry for decades. For potential investors, this represents an opportunity to back an innovative startup at a pivotal moment in its growth. You have the chance to contribute to a sea-change in healthcare supply chain management that is not only commercially lucrative but also impactful in enhancing patient safety across the industry.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs and anyone looking to launch their startup?
My key piece of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to cultivate a deep passion for the problem you’re aiming to solve. When your motivation extends beyond just the monetary aspect and is driven by a genuine commitment to your mission, it fuels you during challenging times. Starting a company is often a steep uphill climb, and without a profound sense of passion for your work, it will be tough to stay motivated and energised.
For me, creating a meaningful impact is paramount. I get immense satisfaction from knowing that I am solving problems that contribute to a better world, even if the changes may seem modest. This kind of fulfilment goes beyond financial gain. It’s about being able to look back and tell my children that I contributed to making the world a better place.
So, as you embark on your entrepreneurial journey, ensure that your motivation is deeply rooted in passion and a desire for positive change. This will not only keep you driven during difficult times but also make the journey much more fulfilling.
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Our thanks to Guillermo for taking the time to answer our questions. This is part of our TakeOff series, exclusive interviews with entrepreneurs and early backers of tech startups. Here are a few more we think you will find equally interesting.
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