July 24, 2020
Nirav Shah is the Chief Executive Officer at Sentinel Healthcare. In this interview, he provides meaningful insight into his background and emerging trends in the healthcare space. Sentinel Healthcare is a clinically-validated digital platform providing remote monitoring and management of patients with high blood pressure and other chronic diseases.
Tell us about yourself.
Before embarking on this amazing journey as CEO of Sentinel, I lived in a variety of different locations ranging from Indiana to Miami. However, the place that means the most to me is Napa Valley, where I met my wife for the first time. We recently had our first kid a few months ago.
In terms of my career path, I was a neurohospitalist and worked as the stroke director for Swedish Neuroscience in Seattle. Through my role as a doctor, I developed a strong passion for helping patients. There is nothing more powerful than seeing a positive outcome. I am excited that I am collaborating with my team to make a positive impact in the healthcare space.
What pushed you to help start Sentinel?
While working at Swedish, I began to notice that there were some inefficiencies in the way we were treating patients. We frequently used a variety of manual tools that were not integrated together. Due to the fragmented nature of these healthcare systems, collecting meaningful patient data was difficult.
In the meantime, exciting new technologies were beginning to accelerate. I like to think of the 1990s as the era of the internet, 2003 to 2008 as the era of the cloud and software as a service, and 2008 onwards as the era of mobile. Wearable devices, like AirPods, were becoming easier to use. Applying this technology to healthcare excited me at the time and still does today. As a team, our goal was to create a simple product, like Airpods, that could passively become another part of everyday life.
What are the general trends you are seeing in healthcare? What role can telehealth play?
Healthcare is a fragmented industry. Today, we are seeing providers try to combine multiple components for overall better care. There has been a push to automate certain aspects of healthcare. All of these trends are very exciting but integration still remains an issue as many of these services, as I previously emphasized, are not user friendly.
Telehealth can be used as a useful strategy for these devices to have more utility. Remote patient monitoring, the most innovative part of our platform, helps achieve a full-stack approach by incorporating devices to the cloud and then to mobile devices. Since we are doctors ourselves, we tailored the software platform for easier collection and organization of patient data; better information is crucial in reducing readmission and sudden emergencies.
I recently heard a story from one of our clinics that perfectly describes the benefits of remote patient monitoring. An older patient, who regularly uses the Sentinel app, recently had surgery on her arm. To deal with the pain from the procedure, she was prescribed painkillers. These medications usually lower blood pressure so doctors typically observe fluctuations in between doses. However, her readings were consistently elevated. After noticing this discrepancy, we immediately recommended she be rushed to the hospital. It turns out that this patient had a stroke. We were able to identify the emergency using instantaneous data on this person’s condition.
I was moved by how Sentinel saved this person’s life, especially as a stroke specialist. Due to the clear health benefits from remote patient monitoring platforms, I believe this technology will have broader use going forward.
What is your favorite doctor joke?
The doctor says, “So, you fell while jogging, and the music player pierced your skull?”
The patient responds, “Hmmm? Oh, sorry, I can’t get this song out of my head.”