From time to time, shmula interviews companies that are disruptive-but-value-adding, either in their approach to business, their revenue model, or in their technology. to read about the companies featured on shmula, please go to the company interview page.
Be sure to read our other interviews in our leadership series.
It’s not often that one encounters innovation that also does the world some good. today on shmula, we’re speaking with Dr. Lloyd Hildebrand, co-founder and chief operating officer of Inoveon. Inoveon is a medical services company that detects, stages, and monitors diseases affecting the eye — diabetic retinopathy, macular edema, and glaucoma. Inoveon is a venture funded company and the list includes Eli Lilly, Centerpoint ventures, Massey Burch, Prolog, and Chisholm.
I have worked alongside Dr. Hildebrand and can attest to his superior knowledge in Opthalmology and Medical Informatics; what is most impressive, however, is his personal drive and passion to help prevent blindness through the use of technology, particularly Medical Informatics and Telemedicine. Shmula welcomes Dr. Hildebrand on today’s segment of disruptive companies.
Dr. Hildebrand, please provide a short bio on yourself
I’m a doc – entrepreneur first a general physician for about ten years and now am a ophthalmic plastic surgeon with an interest in leveraging IT solutions into clinical applications. Inoveon is an University spin-off company we founded in 1996. I still practice and operate.
What is the business problem or opportunity that Inoveon is addressing?
Diabetes is growing at epidemic proportions and isn’t showing any sign of slowing down (www.cdc.gov). Diabetes causes lots of complications in different organs including the eye. It is the leading cause of preventable blindness caused by diabetic retinopathy (DR). DR is treatable if detected early usually when it has no symptoms. If detected, laser surgery can prevent 90% of vision loss. The problem is that most people don’t get the recommended exam to have their eyes checked and so the disease progresses till it is too late to save the vision. About 1/3 of patients get the eye exam they should. These eye exams are not available where they get their diabetes care, so patients have to make an inconvenient and expensive trip for a special eye exam. We provide a digital imaging system that very accurately detects, stages and monitors the progression of DR in the diabetes office. Its like the blood sugar test for the eye disease.
How does Inoveon address the business problem? how is this approach disruptive?
Inoveon provides a system that images the inside of diabetic patient’s eyes to detect and stage the level of damage present. We do this in the diabetes care clinic (rather than the eye clinic). This is disruptive in that it replaces an expert exam by an eye care specialist with an accurate (more accurate actually), more accessible and less costly exam in the convenience of the clinic where diabetic patients receive most of their care. This increases compliance with the recommended yearly exams, identifies treatable disease earlier and at a lower cost.
In terms of selection, price, and flexibility, how does Inoveon compare to other companies in it’s space? — i.e., why should a client go with Inoveon rather than someone else or via another venue?
Inoveon differentiates itself by offering the highest quality diagnostic service available. This is important because it reduces overall cost of managing the condition by accurately identifying all the disease that can be treated (sensitive test) while making sure it sends only patients with advanced disease (high specificity) that need further treatment on for specialty care and evaluation. Lower accuracy systems are easier to operate, may cost less on a per test basis, but cost more because they don’t discriminate between mild and advanced disease stages.
Anything else you’d like to share?
If you have diabetes or know someone who does, remind them to have their eyes checked. You lose a lot when you lose your sight.