PULSE X ME 410B: Glen Tullman


From left to right: Hemant Taneji, Glen Tullman, Armaan Ali, Rachel W-Tsukamoto

From left to right: Hemant Taneji, Glen Tullman, Armaan Ali, Rachel W-Tsukamoto

ON WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 28TH, Glen Tullman, former CEO of Allscripts Healthcare Solutions Inc, and current CEO of Livongo Health spoke to the class of ME 410B. In this session we learned about Tullman’s ventures, and his engagement with the healthcare industry. He answered questions that pertained to innovation, and entrepreneurship -- two dimensions he is very well acquainted with -- and commented on his past experiences.

Tullman is looking to address the prominent issue of chronic disease via his current venture, Livongo Health. His company blends technology, real-time information and human support, as they endeavor to make life easier for people who suffer from chronic conditions. They strive to provide smart technology with a human face, intelligence and intervention, empowering consumers and saving money for insurance companies.


WHAT DOES YOUR PRODUCT DO?

Tullman described their device, as “an OnStar for people.” People with diabetes use glucometers to monitor and ensure healthy blood sugar levels. When these levels become too high or too low, it can quickly affect the brain. Over the long-term unless properly managed with medication and other means, excessively high or low blood sugar can damage eyes, extremities, kidneys and other organs, even causing death. However, people with diabetes often struggle to manage medication, meals and other factors that keep blood sugar levels healthy. Livongo’s device monitors blood sugar levels and delivers them to monitoring physicians, certified diabetes educators or, in some cases, registered nurses via the cloud. Within 60 seconds of these levels becoming irregular, patients receive a call from the same group of people, who takes steps, such as instructing the patient to eat food or take medication to normalize blood sugar. This can avoid short-term effects such as confusion and loss of consciousness, as well as long-term damage from inadequately managed diabetes. Tullman described the process as creating “a miracle, and perfect timing.”

Livongo Health has put together a neat “combination of high technologies, a really smart cloud, and people who are only deployed when you really need them,” according to Tullman.

 

WHAT TYPE OF DATA ARE YOU COLLECTING?

“Right now, we are looking to add data science” said Tullman. Livongo has the technical capacity to correlate simple metrics such as blood sugar levels and how patients are feeling. They can make inferences based on answers people provide throughout the day, and start to connect different factors, resulting in Smart Data science. They hope this will help determine which treatments tend to serve others better and address other important issues.

 

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO MAKE YOUR OWN DEVICE INSTEAD OF CREATING AN ACCESSORY?

Tullman explained that getting FDA approval for a new medical device is difficult, and most phone companies don’t want to go through the trouble.  Also, phones keep changing, and if they had created an accessory it wouldn’t have been cost effective, as they would have had to constantly reengineer the device to maintain relevance.

 

HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT LOOKING AT TECHNOLOGY THAT WAS OUT THERE, SEEING AS YOU WERE INTERESTED IN THE MEDICINE SPACE?

Tullman said his son was diagnosed with diabetes at an early age, and since then, he has been educating himself on the topic. Throughout his presentation he spoke about real, passionate engagement and made it clear that this is something he deeply cares about. Working with this idea, he partnered with General Catalyst's Hemant Taneja to identify interesting ideas and opportunities to explore. He explained that “you must get the right partners, as there is rarely such a thing as overnight success.” Tullman and Taneja intensively discussed where technology would be best suited and where user compliance existed and took part in bottoms up analysis, ultimately producing his current venture and device.

 

WHAT ARE THE BIG TRENDS IN THE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM THAT ARE CREATING CHANGE? 

Tullman listed a few trends that also have the possibility of intersecting in the near future:

1. Affordable Care Act, cost management and cost reduction
The healthcare system needs to find a more efficient way of providing care.

2. Consumerism
We are moving away from a time when other people took care of you. Now, we take care of ourselves because managed care doesn’t in fact  manage your care.

3. Technology
Tullman noted that technology is going to move everything into our hands. His most relevant example was a pregnancy test. A service only doctors could provide at one time is now effectively done at home. The reliability of the device has gone up and the price has gone down.

4. Information
Now that we all have access to information, it has democratized medicine. Tullman explained that the database doctors are using is derived from what they learned in medical school, which for the average doctor, is from about 16 ago. Doctors seem to need better tools that catch up with our consumer tools to make more accurate diagnoses and offer the most relevant information.

 

WOULD YOU CONSIDER PARTNERING WITH A JAWBONE TO TRACK OTHER RELEVANT DATA?

It’s evident that Tullman and Livongo are interested in partnering with other companies. Tullman described a potential for a partnership with an entity that could offer them access to data they don’t have the capacity to collect. For instance, after people have surgeries they must weigh themselves to check their levels of water retention, but patients often don’t report their weight accurately. In this case, Livongo would look to partner with company that can track this type of data so as to add additional services. As for FitBit, they would also love to take that data into the cloud.

 

Thank you to: CEO of Livongo Health, Glen Tullman, General Catalyst Managing Director Hemant Taneja, Stanford Lecturer Dr. William Cockayne, and the students of ME 410B