Health Tech: Dr Soumi Eachempati On How CLEARED4’s Technology Can Make An Important Impact On Our Overall Wellness
An interview with Dave Phillistin, Authority Magazine, 3/13/2022
The future needs of your business. You must keep the product dynamic nature of your product. For maximal positive impact, the innovators must put the mission of the product above short-term profits. People will eventually see they are not obtaining value and the product will lose utilization. For maximal social impact, developers need to understand where people are coming from. You need to understand their values, resources, and organizational risks. A functional product with flexibility will always be a more powerful tool than a one-trick pony. In recent years, Big Tech has gotten a bad rep. But of course, many tech companies are doing important work making monumental positive changes to society, health, and the environment. To highlight these, we started a new interview series about “Technology Making An Important Positive Social Impact”. We are interviewing leaders of tech companies who are creating or have created a tech product that is helping to make a positive change in people’s lives or the environment. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Soumi Eachempati. In 2020, Dr. Soumi Eachempati, former Professor of Surgery and Public Health at Weill Cornell Medical College, was growing his AI-driven digital health company when the COVID-19 pandemic occurred. During this time, his company utilized its technology to create the first COVID-19 detection app called FluChecker. After the pandemic abated, his company pivoted its software to help reopen society and launched its signature product called CLEARED4, an integrated platform currently used by clients like T-Mobile, The New York Yankees, Live Nation, and the City University of New York. Dr. Eachempati has also been frequently invited to comment on COVID-19 related issues with media appearances on such networks as Sirius Radio, CNBC, Bloomberg, NBC Peacock, CBS News, and Cheddar News. Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory and how you grew up? I was born into a family where I received extensive exposure to the medical community. Both my parents were physicians, and my maternal grandfather was a thoracic surgeon in India who worked for the WHO in Delhi. I decided to enter medical school while in college and was also attracted to surgery and managing the sickest of patients. I feel fortunate that I was able to have a long career in surgery and public health where I could contribute to the welfare of so many patients and then being able to transition to a field where I could use my medical knowledge to help even more individuals.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career? Being a trauma surgeon at an incredible place like Cornell allowed me the opportunity to help society in so many different ways. I became part of teams that helped in so many major public health disasters such as 9/11, the New York City Blackout of 2003, and the response to Hurricane Sandy. However, the most memorable time was working as a surgeon immediately after the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 where we were called to action on the day after the event and were operating on the ground in Haiti within days. We were able to provide critical surgical management quicker than essentially any rescue organization.
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? I had a terrific mentor, Dr. Larry Reed, at Duke where I did my critical care training. Dr. Reed taught me many important clinical lessons about patients, but he also gave me numerous other life lessons. One that I will always remember is that he always told me to thank and recognize everyone who helped me on any project no matter how small the contribution. He was referring at the time to research projects, but this lesson is applicable to any situation where you can give credit to others.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life? During my career, I operated on a lot of very sick patients. One patient was particularly challenging. This patient was a firefighter who was hit by a bus while riding a bicycle. Early on in his course, he was having massive internal and external bleeding. He required a combination of surgical and radiological teams to stop over the first eight hours of his hospital stay along with over 50 units of blood just to keep him alive. He appeared to stabilize with these efforts but then he took a sudden turn for the worse. We took him back to the operating room and found another source of bleeding that had appeared since another surgery earlier in the day. He went on to survive and even write a very successful book about this experience. The lesson here is that you always need to reevaluate every situation continually and act accordingly if things are not going to plan.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each? Knowledge is critical. You have to be driven to have a competitive advantage in many areas but especially subject matter expertise. There is no substitute for gaining as much insight and knowledge as you can about your subject. Your clients and prospects will always see this. Second, you need to be forward-thinking. What is important at one point in time may not be as relevant in the future. You will always be more successful if you can anticipate future market needs. At CLEARED4, we always try to give clients features that are important for them at the current point in time while developing future features that will later be valuable. For example, we created a vaccine verification module in July 2020 far before vaccines were even EUA-approved. This insight gave us a massive competitive advantage at the time, and we even trademarked the term “vaccine checker.” This example demonstrates the importance of being able to think ahead and see around corners.
Finally, honesty is tremendously important. Always be honest with your consumer. They will recognize that you are acting in their best interests, and they will be more likely to stick with you as their solution.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about the tech tools that you are helping to create that can make a positive impact on our wellness. To begin, which particular problems are you aiming to solve? We are striving to keep society reopening as safely as possible. At the same time, we try to keep abreast of local and worldwide trends in public health regarding the pandemic. We want our clients to have full confidence that we have their best interests at heart and that CLEARED4 is keeping them current for all their wellness-related needs now, and for the future.
How do you think your technology can address this? We use a combination of many available tools. Adaptation provides flexibility for our clients as one size does not fit all. Grade schools have different needs from colleges which in turn will have different needs than event managers and businesses. Our technology provides the apparatus for gauging consumer needs and knowing when to create rules for each client and in which areas the client can provide their own rules.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause? When I was working in the ICU at Weill Cornell Medical Center early in the pandemic, I saw a tremendous amount of suffering. The main process of the hospital had shut down and it became predominantly a hospital for COVID-19 patients on oxygen or ventilators. The basic community support for all other illnesses became secondary. As a result, countless individuals probably died or experienced preventable morbidity without adequate access to healthcare. This situation must never happen again, and no single disease should be able to devastate society and health care resources in this manner. Our platform is designed for each organization to do their part in keeping their aspect of society safe and healthy.
How do you think this might change the world? Currently, the pandemic is not over. Case numbers are decreasing in the U.S., but we must anticipate more variants which may have an unpredictable degree of danger. CLEARED4 wants to help both the US and global organizations to be ready for the next wave and subsequently, future health care needs even after the pandemic.
Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about? Our platform provides safe access to an organization based on a modifiable set of standards that the organization creates with the guidance of CLEARED4. With allowed access, there is the foible that some individuals may develop a false sense of security. However, our platform only provides risk reduction as no test or guidance is flawless.
Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, can you please share “Five things you need to know to successfully create technology that can make a positive social impact”? (Please share a story or an example, for each.)
The marketplace. Technology must fill a need. The platform must be valuable and provide a service that organizations cannot provide by themselves. You need to know what your competition is offering and why it may appeal to your audience. Your product will not fulfill your mission needs if people are choosing the alternative.
The ability to educate your consumer. The innovation must intuitively educate people as to its purpose. If people understand the importance of the technology, they are more likely to use it for its full value without resistance and encourage others to use it as well. We have multiple channels to talk to consumers including regular question and answer sessions and constantly evolving discussions on our blog site.
Audience engagement. The clients need constant honest open channels of communication, so they understand the past, present, and future of their product. This relationship will help the development of the product. At CLEARED4, many of the features were created from client feedback including past innovations such as using test results to influence access control and future ones such as teleproctoring.
An awareness of other societal priorities. You need to incorporate other aspects of what society is experiencing so you can improve your product. Early in the development of CLEARED4, we started seeing that the reopening of society was involving hybrid schedules. We then incorporated hybrid schedules in the testing aspects of our platform and our rules of contact tracing.
The future needs of your business. You must keep the product dynamic nature of your product. For maximal positive impact, the innovators must put the mission of the product above short-term profits. People will eventually see they are not obtaining value and the product will lose utilization. For maximal social impact, developers need to understand where people are coming from. You need to understand their values, resources, and organizational risks. A functional product with flexibility will always be a more powerful tool than a one-trick pony.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them? The world they are in is different from the one 10–20 years ago. The most important people in society will be the ones who can anticipate what people will need and benefit from 10–20 years from now. The visionaries of today will be the difference makers of tomorrow.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. I would choose the next President of the United States. This person has an awesome responsibility to reopen society, improve community mental health concerns, and regain trust in public health services all while providing the infrastructure for a strong economy. I want to know what ideas this person has for these initiatives and give them some of my own.
How can our readers further follow your work online? You can visit our website, CLEARED4.org, and follow our latest product updates. Additionally, the latest health care and pandemic news are well detailed on my blog which appears on our website as well.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success in your important work.