How Braincheck is Democratizing Cognitive Health

February 14, 2020

 

Dr. Yael Katz is the co founder and CEO of Braincheck, a healthcare technology company focused on making cognitive health assessments more accessible. Prior to co founding Braincheck, Yael was VP of ecommerce at JW Player and a post doctoral research fellows at Princeton University. She received a Ph.D in in Biological Sciences focusing on Computational and Experimental Neuroscience from Northwestern University.

 

Alan
What brought you to co founding Braincheck?

Yael  
If a person has a concern that they're losing their memory or not able to think as clearly as they used to, it's actually very difficult to ascertain whether that is something real that one has to be concerned about or something that's in their mind and it's because it requires not only going to the doctor but several series of referrals in order to get a cognitive assessment. And so my co founder, David Eagleman and I decided to digitize cognitive tests. And what we intended to do was democratize cognitive health to give everybody who is upstream of the neuropsychologist, insight into how their brain is performing.

Alan  
So before you stepped into this arena, were you already working clinical?

Alan  
Not really, my background is in physics, neuroscience and biological informatics- it's basically looking at how information is processed by biological systems. And then I spent a little bit of time in management consulting, which is a really good place to go if you don't know exactly where you want to be. And then I was part of the early team at a tech company in New York City called JW Player. Subsequent to that I was just looking for where I could  make a difference? Where can I apply my skills to solve an important problem and that's in a roundabout way how I came into doing Braincheck. I met David, a little bit randomly, actually. And we decided to, to turn this idea that actually came originally out of his lab at Baylor College of Medicine into a company.

Yael  
I definitely did not begin with kind of the end in mind, it was a meandering path to kind of get there. I think it's interesting with technology commercialization, in a certain way, it's the inverse problem of how a lot of traditional businesses start. Right? So it's kind of like, people are hungry, so I'm going to start a pizza shop to give people food. It starts with the problem and then you propose the solution. Whereas with technology salute, technology commercialization, oftentimes, you have technology that you develop, and then you're asking, what can this do? What problem can that solve? And I think that in our case, that was a lot of what we did.

Alan  
After five years of working at this, what stage is the company at right now?


Yael 
In investor terms, we're post Series A, so essentially, we have a working business, which is very exciting. Finally, things are predictable and repeatable. And so specifically, our customers are doctors who are in private practice. So primary care neurology practices and physician groups, and we have about 200 of them. So the company's going really well. And one of the statistics we're most proud of is our retention rates, we have 98% retention rate. So we are acquiring customers quickly and they really stick with us, they like what we have to offer. So the company is generating revenue and, and growing quickly.

Alan  
If I want to use Braincheck's services, what process would my physician's group go through?

Yael
Typically what we would do would be a demo for you, so So show you how the product works. Depending on how large your organization is, we would either do that virtually over the web, or we would  come out and see you and do it in person. And your doctors would get to try this out. And we would work with you to implement it in your group. Sometimes it's not the doctor who's actually administering the test, it's either q medical assistant or sometimes the patients can actually take the test at home and the results are available for the doctor. And so would show the reporting and we have an admin dashboard for different people in your office. So it show all that to you and then you're going to like it so much, you're going to go ahead and buy it. There's a subscription and then depending on how much you use, there's also a volume based pricing so we would set you up with all that.

Alan  
And so essentially you're, you're identifying the different cognitive brain disorders are for diagnosis and treatment?

Yael
Sort of, so you can kind of think about us like a thermometer for brain health. So we're basically measuring how well persons performing in different cognitive domains. And so, there's a whole bunch of different modalities, that a person has, different types of memory, executive function, visual attention, and so forth. And so basically, we have these different tasks that a person has to complete and we measure speed and accuracy on those tasks. And based on that, we can basically determine how well a  person's performing according to their own baseline over time tracking over time, and then also comparing them to our normal normative database. So people who are normal and healthy for their age. And based on that, determine, you know, how are they are performing these different modalities. And then the doctor takes that information and uses it to make a diagnosis.

Alan  
It seems like the uses for brain check are very far reaching. When you talk about cognitive thinking that, you know, we don't all think alike, we don't problem solve a like, you're you're addressing the diagnosis in a clinical sense, but in the business or the entrepreneur sense there's also mindsets how you need to build diversity in mindsets. Do you have plans to reach into this other area?

Yael
So actually, that's been one of the biggest challenges with coming up with our business model. Since Braincheck has so many uses, there are so many different things that Braincheck can do. It was really important for us to pick one and to hyper focus on one use case and not trying to do so many different things. Right now, at this stage in our company, we're focused squarely on health care and the clinical use case, so, when does a person have clinically significant impairment in different areas, that's our question, as opposed to, you know, optimizing one's brain, you know, to become a better athlete or performer or in business sense, as you mentioned, to look at, you know, different personality traits, and you know, who's likely to succeed in different kinds of jobs. I think those are super interesting, and something that I would love to do as a future direction in a few years, when we got the clinical piece, up and going, but right now, we're squarely focused on that clinical use case.

Alan  
How does a person go about contacting you to to sign up for services?

Yael
Ask your doctor about Braincheck. I think that so many people have in the back of their mind. Oh, you know, I really wish that, I could get my brain checked. Sorry about the pun there. Or if you're worried about a family member, ask your doctor about brain check, and we would love to have your doctor, contact us and show them a demo.

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