The MATTER Health Podcast

Tales from the Trenches: Stephanie Tilenius, CEO & Founder of Vida Health

April 14, 2023 MATTER Season 3 Episode 4
The MATTER Health Podcast
Tales from the Trenches: Stephanie Tilenius, CEO & Founder of Vida Health
Show Notes Transcript

Join MATTER as we welcome Stephanie Tilenius, CEO and founder of Vida Health, for our April Tales from the Trenches.

Stephanie was motivated to found Vida Health after she tried to help her father manage the multiple chronic conditions he faced. She knew he needed someone with medical knowledge in his corner to help him manage them on a daily basis and get him on a path to better health. Instead, he got lost in a confusing and impersonal healthcare system, like so many do today.

Wanting to change her father’s experiences, Stephanie started Vida Health in 2014 with the mission to treat multiple chronic conditions at once through personalized care plans and the power of human connection.

Prior to founding Vida Health, Stephanie founded, an online pharmacy and disease management company. Stephanie is a trailblazing entrepreneur and "intrapreneur" who builds products, platforms and businesses from the ground up. She has played key roles for large companies, such as Google, eBay and PayPal. Stephanie also currently serves on the boards for Coach, Seagate and Tradesy.

On April 12, Stephanie joined us for a conversation moderated by Suzet McKinney, DrPH, Principal, Director of Sterling Bay Life Sciences to discuss Stephanie's career journey, the founding of Vida Health and how she plans to advance healthcare.

About Tales from the Trenches™
MATTER’s signature Tales from the Trenches series is an opportunity to hear the early stories of some of the global businesses we read about in the news — straight from the founders who led them to greatness. This series invites seasoned healthcare entrepreneurs to the MATTER stage to share learnings, stories and key takeaways from their journeys.

For more information, visit and follow us on social:

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Steven Collens, CEO of MATTER (00:12):
Hello everyone. Welcome to Tales From the Trenches. I am Steven Collens, the CEO of MATTER. We are healthcare technology incubator and innovation hub with a mission to accelerate the pace of change of healthcare. We do three things in service of our mission. First, we incubate startups. We launched in 2015, and since then, we've worked with more than 800 companies that range from very early to growth stage startups, and we have a suite of services to help them at every stage of development. Second, we work with large organizations, health systems, life sciences companies, payers, and others to strengthen their innovation capacity. We help them find value in emerging technology solutions, empower internal innovators to unlock the value of their ideas and create a more human-centered healthcare experience through system level collaborations. And third, we're a nexus for people who are passionate about healthcare innovation.

We bring people together to be inspired and learn and connect with each other, and we produce a lot of programs, including events for the broader community, as well as small forums that are exclusively for our members. Tales From the Trenches is our longest standing series where we interview accomplished, interesting entrepreneurs who share their journeys on how they got started and what they've learned along the way. And today we're joined by Stephanie Tilenius, who's the CEO and founder of Vida Health. She has a fascinating background as an entrepreneur, as well as a builder of businesses within large technology companies. We'll hear more about that. Stephanie will be interviewed by Suzet McKinney, who leads the life sciences practice for Sterling Bay, the real estate developer and also serves on the matter board. Among other things, Suzet is leading a huge and very exciting life sciences development in Chicago. If you have questions throughout the program, please put 'em into the chat and Suzet will weave them into the conversation as appropriate. Stephanie and Suzet, thank you so much for joining us today and being part of this discussion. We are very much looking forward to the conversation.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (02:25):
Thank you, Steven, and good afternoon everyone. It's great to be with you today. Hi, Stephanie. I'm super excited to talk with you today and to engage in this discussion and give our audience the opportunity to learn more about you.

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (02:41):
Well, it's great to be here, and thank you for taking the time today and look forward to the conversation.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (02:47):
Thank you. So, before I hop into the questions, I just wanna say one of the things that is so inspiring to me that I've read with regards to your background was about your motivation for starting your company, essentially around the challenges that your father was chasing or was facing as he was experiencing a number of health challenges. And it's just really inspiring to me to read about, you know, how it was through your father's experiences that you were motivated to start Vida Health back in 2014. So, with that, why don't we start I'll turn it over to you and I'll just ask you to tell us a little bit about your journey and your story in the healthcare space.

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (03:30):
Sure. Well, thank you again. So I started Vida mostly for personal reasons. Although professionally, I thought it would be a way to help healthcare in the industry at large. So I have a background in technology. I spent a long time at eBay and PayPal and Google, and, you know, built products that scaled to millions of consumers and mostly focused in the kind of commerce and payments area. And always had a passion for, for healthcare and, and really tried to anchor my work around making things better for people. So at, at eBay, we talked about essentially enabling economic democracy. Like we had people on the platform that built a living on eBay, were able to send their kids to college, pay their mortgages and those kinds of things. And I, I I always thought that there was a lot of innovation that needed to come to healthcare.

And so then what happened was kind of a, a confluence of personal and professional dynamics where my dad had multiple chronic conditions. So he had obesity, diabetes, congestive heart failure, COPD, and depression. And he was on multiple medications. And if you looked at the underlying root drivers of all of these conditions, it, it was, you know, around lifestyle. So stress, sleep, nutrition managing his medication, adherence, his exercise. And nobody was really managing him day to day. Like he would go to see a doctor and they would get a prescription, but there was no, what I call continuous care, where someone was a coach or, you know, a nurse or a therapist or even a doctor, like talking to him daily, giving him guidance, tracking his you know, his behavior around meds, exercise, sleep, stress, nutrition. And at that time there were all these new devices coming out, and I was a quantified self person.

Like I was tracking all of my behavior. And so I was trying to get my dad to do that. And it was early in the Fitbit days and, you know, we didn't have the sophistication we have today, but I thought it made sense that he should have devices tracking and we should be able to have a mobile device that tracks his, his behavior and sleep and nutrition. And this just didn't exist. And so I just started prototyping a solution. And then I realized when I started investigating the problem in healthcare where, you know, we spend over 4 trillion and more than 80% of that is on chronic disease that could be managed in a continuous way much more effectively. Then I started to get really intrigued about providing this solution beyond just my dad.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (06:17):
Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Wow. It's fascinating. I'm sure there are so many people in our audience who have friends and family members that are experiencing multiple healthcare conditions mm-hmm. <Affirmative> mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, and have some of the same challenges. You know, I I can recall, you know, immediately family members that I have that, you know, would be in need of someone to help coordinate and monitor and track all of our behaviors as it relates to our health. So Stephanie, you've been described as both an entrepreneur and an entrepreneur. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Now speaking for myself, I was not familiar with the, the word entrepreneur. So tell us about what that is and a little bit about your entrepreneurial experience.

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (07:02):
Well, I was an entrepreneur before I joined eBay and PayPal. I had started a company in called PlanetRx, took it public in the October of 99. It was an online benefit pharmacy benefit management company. And I was interviewing and I was thinking about starting another company, and I was interviewing at eBay. And I Meg Whitman, who was CEO at the time, said to me, well, you need you, you should come here and be an entrepreneur, right? You can be an entrepreneur with inside a big company. And you know, I really wasn't thinking of of doing that. But I met all these amazing, smart, amazing people at, at eBay and decided that they were doing things that really had an impact. And so I ended up going there and spending a decade <laugh> at eBay in PayPal, and really was an entrepreneur.

So you know, I did a lot of things that from the ground up that required sort of entrepreneurial mindset and build and a build mentality. So I ended up building a lot of international eBay, eBay, autumn, automotive, we called it eBay Motors at the time. And then PayPal, when we acquired PayPal, there really was no off eBay business or any kind of platform for merchants across the web. And so I built that from the ground up. And so I got into the habit of building new things inside big companies and starting teams, and then ended up building these things that became very large. You know, a lot of what we built became what PayPal is today. So I, I really enjoyed that experience. And it's, I highly recommend, you know, being an entrepreneur inside a big company, you learn a ton and you're able to really have a big impact. And then I've also been an entrepreneur <laugh>, which is a different, it's, it's, it's a higher beta process. I mean, it's in some ways I joke with some of my investors that it's much harder to be an entrepreneur than an entrepreneur <laugh> because you're, you're you're always on the preci. You feel like you're always on the precipice of failure at every given moment, whereas inside a big company, it's safer <laugh>. So

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (09:18):
Yeah. I was struck by when you were talking about starting Vida and looking at your father's healthcare challenges and how you just started prototyping, and I thought, who thinks that way? You know, but clearly it was natural for you, it was already in your background.

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (09:34):

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (09:34):
So tell me, now that it's been almost 10 years since you formed Vida, how have you seen chronic healthcare management shift over that time period?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (09:46):
Well, you know, when we started connected devices were used by the quantified self movement, which was a very small group of people that were ahead of their time. And the notion of continuous care was really new. Now it's, I, I think it's becoming accepted that this is the way that healthcare should be administered. And the pandemic had a huge impact in that, you know, people had to connect through audio video asynchronously, not in person, obviously, during the pandemic. And so the care for diabetes and obesity and mental health and all the things that we do essentially moved online, mobile and really became, you know, a common way of interacting for, for consumers. So I think we're, we've made a huge transition to that as the standard methodology for for care. And I think people really accept that now as the way that it should be.

 And I, and then the other learning is that we were really ahead of our time in the sense that we approach this, and partly from my dad's experience, but we approached it, like combining the mind and the body. We didn't think you could treat diabetes without treating the mental health pieces of it. We also combined tech and humans. So we had you know, providers in the app that you could get access to, and you could c communicate with them asynchronously and synchronously through text and video. And a lot of those things in when we first started were new and exciting, and no, nobody had mobile solutions. And now I think it's become the de facto standard.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (11:27):
Sure. So just a quick follow up. You talk about people accepting that that's the direction, this is the direction that healthcare needs to go. Would you say that acceptance is across patients, providers, and payers? Or is there one of those groups that, you know, still sort of needs to come along a bit?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (11:47):
I think it still is moving. I'd say patients are there first, and providers and payers are getting there. We, you know, we'll work with primary care docs and work with their patients, and then the patients will go back to the doctor after three or four months with Vida and have lowered their A1C two points and lost weight and improved their hypertension by 10 points. And, and the doctor's like, wow, this is great. You know? So I think there's, the, the doctors are still sort of, they aren't trained in, in the day-to-day continuous care or nutrition or anything, the things that we like the medical, nutritional therapy that we do. Sure. But when they see the outcomes, they think, oh, this is great. This is exactly how it should be, because they wanna be able to practice the top of their license, and they don't have time to do the things that we do on a day-to-day basis.

So I think it's becoming more standardized. And then we, we have a value-based care methodology where we have guarantees on the return on, you know, the return on investment in our product in terms of medical cost savings. And that value-based care is really quickly expanding in healthcare. I would say it still has room to grow in becoming the standard, but you have companies like large payers like Humana, where we, we we serve some of their customers and they have, you know, the majority of their contracts are value-based contracts. So we're getting there. Okay.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (13:06):
That's, that's fantastic. So, you know, obviously then we know, and we can understand that the chronic care space is continuously growing, but in the context of that space, how do you navigate, you know, just maintaining a successful company? You know, being as entrepreneurial and as you are, I'm sure that you have many other demands on your time as well. So talk to us a little bit about not just how you maintain a successful company, but how you also maintain balance in your own life.

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (13:38):
Well from a company standpoint, we, you know, we are always changing and evolving, and we ha we challenge everyone in the company to be 1%. We have a saying 1% better every, every day. And if you're 1% better every day than you're 37 times better in a year, <laugh>. And so that's how you, you know, we really pride ourselves on like a growth mindset and growing individuals inside the company, moving them around, trying different jobs making sure that we're giving people the coaching and the growth that they need and that we're all, like, growing with the company. So, and culture is a really big investment, and we have to really, you know, it's like a garden. You have to tend it, you have to keep investing in it and evolving it. And so that's from a company perspective. And then, you know, from a per personal perspective I definitely have different habits that help me be more effective. And I can, you know, I can tell when I'm getting to a point where I might be, you know, if I've spent 15 hours on Zoom, <laugh>, it might be a little burned out. And so, or, you know, so I have balance and I, I'm very strict about sticking to my, my health regime, you know, my exercise, my sleep my meditation, those kinds of things. So.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (14:56):
Wow. So what does the future of Vida Health look like?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (15:01):
Well, we were talking a little bit about it earlier, which is, you know, the continuous care that we provide individuals that have chronic disease like diabetes or obesity or depression, anxiety, the way that we're operating today, where we, we, we are there 24 by seven, it's a continuous care model, is the, the standard I think that should be in healthcare. It should be reimbursed by all payers. We should be in network everywhere. It's cheaper and more effective. We have great outcomes. And and it, it just doesn't make sense to have to go see the doctor every quarter. And also, like day-to-day, you're not going to be able to make the behavior change and the, the effect, you're not gonna get the effect you need with just a seven minute doctor visit every so often. So I think it should be the standard of care for chronic disease.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (15:56):
So I'm sure that we have members of our audience that are wondering, just like, I'm wondering, you know, when a patient first hears about Vida Health, you know, what's the point of entry for a patient? How do they access the services that you provide?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (16:12):
Well, we sell, we're business to business. Okay. So we sell to large employers like Boeing or Cisco credential and we distribute to their empl, like we market to their employees, and then they can sign up. And generally it's covered for free. We also work with large payers where we're also distributed for free. Okay. And then you can sign up and use the app and get access to the service.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (16:39):
Fantastic. Well, let's switch gears just a little bit and, you know, speak more to the entrepreneurs in the audience today. So what would you say, from an entrepreneurial perspective, what's the biggest mistake you've made and what are the, some, some, what are some of the things that you do to ensure that you don't make those same mistakes again?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (17:03):
There's so many mistakes. <Laugh>, let's see. I think one of the things you have to realize is you have to be nimble. You're going to make a lot of mistakes, and you just need to quickly fix them and move on. I think it was Bezos who said you know, intelligent people can hold two opposing opinions and can change their mind, right? So you can't, you need to be stubborn on the long-term vision of what you're trying to achieve, but flexible on the details and be willing to change your mind and be open to different ways of achieving things. So that, I think that would be the first thing. And then the biggest mistakes I've made are generally around people. I've either hired the wrong people that weren't aligned with our culture or that didn't, didn't work, and then I haven't fired them fast enough that that's generally the mistake that most, most leaders, not just entrepreneurs, but most leaders make

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (18:02):
Sure, yeah. Because we don't always want to admit that the person that we chose may not be the best choice or the, the best fit for our culture and our environments. Right?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (18:15):
Yeah. I think it's that. And also in my case, I just I've, I have such a growth mindset and I've had so many people in my career you know, at eBay and Google, et cetera, that I've coached that have done really, or I've hired coaches for, and I believe in coaching, and then I've seen them progress. And so I just always take the approach of, oh, okay, well, let's give it, let's try this, or let's try that, you know? And so, but sometimes you just have to make a call, <laugh>. Yeah,

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (18:42):
Absolutely. So, you know, I would even say the, the people issue can be a bit of a challenge in any environment, but particularly in an entrepreneurial environment. What other challenges would you say exist or at least that you faced leading in an entrepreneurial environment?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (19:02):
It's making sure that you go fast enough. Like dec, like the pandemic was really eye-opening for me because we made decisions so quickly and I thought to myself, wow, we should just always be making decisions this quickly. Like, you know so being able to move fast being able to go, you know, constantly go really high in strategy, but also go low in details and operate put process in place. I think you can, you know, you need to put process in place faster than you think. And it, it, like, sometimes you get the, you get concerned that process is too much or you know, it, you're slowing things down, but there's a, an expression like, go slow to go fast. So, you know, really spend time aligning and having OKRs objective and key results and clarity of what you're trying to achieve, and everyone on the same page, and then you can go much faster. Sure. So it's driving alignment. And then I would say it's balancing growth versus profitability, especially in this new macroeconomic environment where before, like a year and a half or year, year ago, it was all about growth, growth, growth at all costs, and venture capital is free flowing, and now it's how, what, what's your paths of profitability? And so just constantly looking at balancing those two things. Yeah.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (20:27):
Before I move to the next question that I hu have, I just wanna pause for a quick second to remind the audience members that if you have any questions that you'd like to pose to our speaker today, Stephanie please be sure to put those into the q and A feature on Zoom, and we will get to them as we proceed. So, Stephanie, I love listening to leaders of all different types of companies and organizations talk about the things that they do to be successful. You know, I've heard everything from, you know, I get up early and go for a run to, you know, I wake up and handle all my emails first and then have quiet time before I go into the office. So can you share with us some of the things that you, do, you know, Stephanie's practices to ensure <laugh> successful on a daily basis?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (21:19):
Sure. Well, I, my morning routine is really important to me. I, I call it time t i m E. So I, when I wake up, I usually, the first thing I do is think about what I'm thankful for. That's the tea. And then I think about what my, like, top intent is for the day. Like, whether it by might be work related, it might be my kids or something, but like, what is my primary intent for that day? And then meditation, I usually do it. It's no, typically not more than 10 minutes of meditation. And then I exercise. I, I am a runner, or I bike, or I, I hike outside or I do something. I try to get outside more and more especially with the weather being better, but it's getting that sunlight and Vidamin D is important.

So so I really, I prioritize that. I don't really skip it and at all, <laugh>, it's really important. And then if I'm in a really stressful situation or contentious situation, I tend to listen and take in all the data and be careful to not respond without thinking about it more clearly. And if there's a situation where it, it, it's somehow extremely emotional or something, and I wanna write an email, I'll write that email, but I won't send it until 24 hours later. Sure. so I give it time to, I, I have to really think about the situation.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (22:50):
Wow. I love that. I mean, as someone who is constantly striving to nail down a morning routine I love the way that you've organized yours. So I don't know if you could tell, but I was writing down <laugh> what each of the words in the acronym stands for <laugh>. Okay. So I do have a couple more questions, but I'm starting to see questions come in from the audience now. So I'm going to pivot to some of those. And it looks like they are, you know, range the gamut of everything that we've been talking about. So I'm just gonna start with the first one and jump right in. Nancy would like to know if you could walk us through how Vida works for a client. How does it articulate with their primary care providers? And is there research being done on the outcomes?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (23:41):
Sure. So we will typically have a large, like Boeing as a customer or a large payer like Humana. And we have a P P P M A per member per month rate that we get. So if somebody's engaged in the product, we get paid for that service. And we do measure outcomes. In fact, we have an r o I guarantee, based on our, our outcomes and our medical cost savings. We have many published papers at more than 10 now where we've have large ends of, you know, 500 to 2000 where we have proven the outcomes and we have strong outcomes in A1C reduction, blood pressure reduction, depression anxiety, weight, et cetera. And we have partnered with a couple of payers over the last couple years to do actuarial analysis on our medical cost savings. And so that's why we're able to do the r o ROI guarantee.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (24:41):
Okay, great. Thank you. So I'm gonna try and group questions that are similar. So here's another one. Do you find staffing shortages cause challenges for payers and providers handling data from Vida? So, for example, some alert is created that requires an intervention, and there's no one there to management manage it. How do you deal with that?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (25:05):
We do not experience that. Okay. So we, you know, most of the individuals that are getting notifications from our service are the people that are actually the consumer or the patient. We're, we're not using a staff, like a doctor or their staff to communicate with so much.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (25:27):
Okay. Great. So next question says this person is a health and wellness coach that is certified by Duke Health, but based in Dubai. Are there any options for this person at Vida in Vida?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (25:45):
Oh, I would love to. We, you know, we'd love to be in Dubai, <laugh>. They should apply. I don't see why not. I mean, the, the interesting thing about health coaching is that it can be done from anywhere in, especially in the us you don't have licensers by state where we have nutritionists and therapists, which we are, which we do manage by state. So,

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (26:09):
Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. Great. Now, I know you said, you know, your business is b2b, so not direct to consumer mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. But for someone who, we have a question for someone who's a board certified nurse coach, and has started something called Healthcare 1 0 1 as a transformational lifestyle coach. Is there a way for coaches, lifestyle coaches to get involved with Vida?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (26:40):
Well, we hire lifestyle coaches all the time, so I think that's the most clear way. And we're growing and scaling, so I think that would be the way.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (26:50):
Okay. You should know that our person in Dubai is excited and applying for sure. So <laugh> Okay. Just wanted you to know that that has come through. Okay. the next question is related to reaction from providers. You know, do providers like the service, do they see value in the product? I think yes, they do. But how do you get feedback from providers?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (27:16):
Well, we work with different provider organizations. So for example, Stanford Care is at Cisco, and then we have Sutter Health and other places like, so we, we work with PCPs and they love the fact that we're getting results for patients and simplifying their lives. And we're looking increasingly to partner with large ACOs where we work with their PCPs and we're the defective service for diabetes and obesity, as an example. Really, the cardiometabolic area is where PCPs just need to practice at the top of their license and they don't have a lot of time. And the day-to-day continuous care we can be, you know, we can provide in between their visits.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (28:01):
Great. I have to tell you, I'm looking at these questions and so many questions about Vida, and we will get to those, but there are also questions about you as an entrepreneur, but also your morning routine. So I wanna try and get to some of those <laugh>. Okay. just a quick comment. Well, no, before I do that, cuz this question was posed fairly early on. Since building PlanetRx, how has being an entrepreneur changed? Or do you think that the path is still generally about the same? Certainly there's comment here that tools available in the economy obviously have evolved, but how has that impacted the entrepreneur?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (28:44):
I think it's very different. <Laugh>, you know, we went, we took PlanetRx public with 40 million of revenue, which you would just never do today. So the, the, the companies are staying private for a long time and building, you know, billion dollar franchises and then going public. So it's a really different time. And to build a company, the cost to get started is so much lower because there's all these SaaS, you know, software as a service models, I mean, for, you can pretty much find software for everything you need, whether it be HR related or finance related or using a w s or Google Cloud or Azure, like to manage and host your data. There's a bunch of analytics for there's services for different integrations into E M R and HIPAA compliance. There's just, I mean, pretty much everything you wanna do, there's some service.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (29:43):

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (29:44):
That didn't exist when I started PlanetRx, so very different.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (29:47):
Okay. Another question just similar to the entrepreneurial journey, how difficult was it to get buy-in into your vision and then getting it funded, you know, what worked and what didn't work?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (30:04):
Well, I think every round, so we're a series D company. We, we just raised from General Atlantic in 2021. And every financing A, B, C D is different and they're all challenging in their own right. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and you just have to know for, for every given stage what matters. So in the early stages, it's more about vision and team and the size of the market and, and also the thesis of the investor and what the, you know, like targeting the investors that are really interested in your space. The later stages is all about numbers and performance, so you really have to you know, and, and the same theory applies, like investors that are interested in your space and have a thesis that aligns with your, your vision.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (30:50):
Yeah. That's great. Do you think that having a company in Silicone Valley or in the San Francisco area poses challenges that might change how you staff and build your operations?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (31:07):
Well, not anymore. I think the pandemic's changed everything. So people are hiring everywhere and remote work first is becoming the standard. I mean, I do think we, we were lucky and, and you know, we did have amazing group of core talent early on and we've maintained a lot of that talent. And so, you know, you do have to find your core group and Silicon Valley does have a lot of great engineering product leaders. So you have to, you have to figure out where you start. But I think in terms of scaling ev, every, everyone's going across the US and global.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (31:45):
Yeah. Okay. Well, we have a comment that someone else also loved your Time acronym. Okay. <laugh>. But another question is, do you use a meditation app? And if so, what is it?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (31:59):
I do, I use com and there's several people in com that I really like. So tomorrow, Levit j Shetty and then sometimes I use my own, I have a Spotify playlist that I've created for meditation, so sometimes I use that as well.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (32:19):
Okay. Well, sort of along the same lines of just, you know, personal presence of mind and, and mental health. What keeps you awake at night and has the pandemic or chat G P T changed that at all?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (32:41):
Let's see. The pandemic and chat g p t have not changed. What keeps me awakened. <Laugh> <laugh> I I don't worry about chat G P T replacing all of us anytime soon. So that doesn't keep me awakened. <Laugh>.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (32:58):
That's good.

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (33:00):
I know, I know. It bothers some people though. No, I mean, generally, you know, the things that keep me awake are more closer in to my real day-to-day than the future of humanity. Which is neither good nor bad is just the reality. So it tends to be like something related to people in my company or a customer or something big that we're trying to do, or my kids or something like that, <laugh>. So

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (33:33):
Yeah. Yeah. I I can imagine that as a mom, you know, you're always preoccupied with what's going on with your kids. I know as a mom, I am constantly preoccupied with what's going on with mine.

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (33:44):
Yeah, yeah,

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (33:45):
Yeah. But that's actually a great, you know, segue into our next question. It's essentially a two-part question. So the first part is, what's the hardest part of being an entrepreneur for you personally, and how do you manage being both a mom and a business leader?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (34:06):
Well, they both are teaching me the same lesson, <laugh>, which is, which is patience. <Laugh> patience is a massive virtue, which I typically have not had a lot of <laugh>. So yeah. So I'd say that they're both similar, both require patients, they both require a lot of IQ and eq, like mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you really, you're, at the end of the day, you're dealing with people. Right. and and they also, like, I guess I've learned that you can't control the outcome of everything, so as much as you think you can, you work towards a goal and you do your best, but you can't always control the outcome. And so it's living with uncertainty but still, you know, really pushing hard and executing and, you know and hoping for the best. I think that applies to both entrepreneurship and kids <laugh>.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (35:01):
Absolutely. Well, you know, I'm gonna insert one of my own questions in here now. So think back for me to your younger years, your earlier life mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, if you could talk to 20 year old Stephanie right now, what would you say to her?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (35:27):
I would say you're gonna be surprised by a lot of things in life, <laugh>. So and like I, I think we all are so harsh on ourselves, like we're all very self-critical. So I would probably say be less self-critical. Less, less harsh. Yeah.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (35:48):
Yeah. Yeah. I'm often struck by, so my daughter is 21, and I'm often struck by the differences between when I was that age and just like you said, being very hard on myself, very critical of all the things that I'm doing, and now watching this new generation coming up and preparing to enter the workforce, and there's so much more in tune with what helps them be happy whole people. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you know, with mental health intact mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. it's really quite remarkable to watch it unfold in my own household, you know?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (36:24):
Yeah. I think that's a generational thing. Like, I think in our generation it was like, work hard and just keep working hard and keep working hard, <laugh>, <laugh> and and now I think people are like working hard, but trying to understand how to have some preservation of their mental health and balance, and they're much more sophisticated, I think, in this generation. Yeah. Yeah. Agreed.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (36:50):
Agreed. Okay. Well, the questions keep coming. We, we have 10 questions in queue from the audience, and they are all related to the company and how it's functioning. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So what's the biggest challenge or opportunity that Vida is facing at this time?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (37:12):
I mean, I think at this point it's just scale, right? And just scaling as fast as we can to serve as many people as we can. So and it's, it's really just you know, certain, certain parts of our offering like are in part dependent on the market, right? So, for example, we just in introduced we, we prescribed, we started prescribing last year, so we prescribe medication and we de-prescribe medications. So our hope is that, you know, individuals who do really well over time would go off their diabetes meds. And now we introduced obesity, the new obesity meds, glp. And, but you know, that's a new area where there's a shortage. And so you know, it's just, it's working with the market and, and growing along with the market as things are changing in healthcare and reimbursement's changing. You know, Medicare's looking finally at obesity as a chronic disease and working within the payment system of Medicare and and the commercial system.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (38:17):
Sure. I think I know the answer to this, but I'm gonna put it out here because it was asked do you use remote patient monitoring?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (38:25):
We provide remote patient, yes, we do that. Yeah, sure. Now we should to people's homes and we do rpm. Yeah.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (38:33):
Okay. So what happens when a patient experiences a negative outcome? Is Vida responsible if the advice that was offered creates that negative outcome?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (38:48):
That's a really good question. I mean, we do have medical liability coverage. We haven't had a situation where somebody had we haven't had a negative outcome. I mean, I, like, we haven't had any, any you know, people might not like, a negative outcome would be someone doesn't lower their A1C as much as they should have. Right. So, sure. We haven't had any serious medical outcomes.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (39:16):
Would the services that Vida provides, does it require you to purchase malpractice insurance?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (39:23):
We do have malpractice insurance. Okay. All right,

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (39:27):
Great. So one of the questions is asking if you could talk a bit about the length of your sales cycle, especially with self-insured corporate plants.

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (39:40):
It really depends. It's, it can be anywhere. So self-insured, I'm assuming you mean employers right. So it, yeah. Employers can be anywhere from six to 18 months. I mean, you just, it's really hard to tell. Like, we just, we just launched with a hundred thousand employer group, and that was less than six months. A consultant brought us in very quickly, and then we've had other relationships that we've nurtured for a while and all of a sudden they wanna buy. So it depends on, you know, the buying cycle of the employer and their, where they are in their benefit offering.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (40:15):
Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Sure. So, you know, I would say this is really, you know, sort of disrupting the healthcare industry. How, how would you say the F D A is adapting or not to disruptive approaches to healthcare?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (40:33):
Well, the F D A has come out and said that they are approving, they approved drugs and they are approving automated software that is a medical intervention like a drug. Okay. But they're not, they're not getting involved in services that involve a human, like, like what we do. Like, we're, we're essentially a medical practice, right? Sure. so they're, they're not regulating what we do.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (41:02):
So who would regulate what you do?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (41:05):
Well, we're just regulated like any other medical service, like we are a medical services group. Right.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (41:10):
Got it. Got it. Wow. Fascinating. So our audience is so engaged and looking into your services as we speak. So the next question this person is saying you offer in-language support for Spanish speakers. Do you have any plans for continued support of diverse groups and making sure that the content and the services are culturally engaging?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (41:41):
Well, we spend a lot of time on this. Our content team really investigates like the different cultural elements. So for example, for Spanish, we have a large, we had large customers in Texas and Florida, and we knew we needed a Spanish offering. So when we approached it, we looked at Mexican, Spanish, Caribbean, Spanish, we looked at all the cultural elements, and we took a holistic approach. So all of our marketing, all of our product, all of the providers, all Spanish speaking, and we, you know, we know how to do that now. And, and we've got our, our N P S for Spanish our Spanish services like 91, so it, our net promoter score. So very successful. And now we, we can do that with other languages. You know, Medicare has about 10 to 12 different languages that are sort of similar to Spanish. So we will look at those, but right now we have not done anything beyond Spanish.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (42:38):
Okay. So I'm going to try and sort of decipher through this next question. There, there's a lot here. But the audience member is referencing a study that was published out of the Jefferson Medical College around physicians who have higher empathy scores using a particular tool, the Jefferson Empathy Scale for patients, diabetic patients whose A1C and L D L were in normal ranges than physicians whose scores were lower. So the question is how does this method generate the same type of response and do you think it's empathy that actually plays a role?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (43:24):
Yeah, empathy is, is vital, right? So that's why we have human plus tech, and we think that humans can really affect change and drive inspire and drive behavior change with other people. And so the connection, we measure the therapeutic alliance between the coach or the therapist and the individual patient. And we really make sure that the human connection is working we believe fundamentally in the human connection. And we do a lot of work to make sure that all of our providers are trained in motivational interviewing and know how to handle these kinds of situations and really put empath empathy first and foremost.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (44:10):
Sure, sure. Okay. So this question, I believe it's a follow on to a question that you previously answered, but I move the questions away as you answer them. So I'm not sure. But the person is asking, what about R P M and remote diagnostics that attach to your platform?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (44:33):
So we we don't really do diagnostics per se but we do have, in our initial onboarding and survey, we do ask enough questions to understand certain, like to put you in a, in a, in a care pathway that it corresponds with your conditions, and we get claims data. So we're, we are essentially between the claims data and our surveys, you know, assessing which your severity and your, and the path that you should go on. But we're not doing classic diagnostics.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (45:05):
Sure, sure. You know, something that just reflecting back on the earlier part of our conversation today and just talking about patients with multiple chronic health conditions that they're suffering for from, and, you know, I've been learning a lot about, you know, patients within the VA health system mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, and how oftentimes a lot of patients within the VA health system have that same sort of history, you know, multiple chronic conditions, no real care coordination or proper management. Has vda been able to get into any VA hospital or the VA system at large?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (45:50):
Well, it's not, the VA is just one example, and everyone in the, in the country, essentially, when you look at chronic disease, 40% of people who have a chronic disease have two or more, right? So it's a, it's just, it's prevalent across the country. So we just won an eight year government contract, but and so we're, you know, we're dealing with a lot of the kinds of patients that you articulated mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, and most of the I mean, I'd say some of our commercial customers that are, where they have pretty healthy employee groups, have less incident of like poly chronic, where they have diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, depression, and anxiety. We see that more in Medicare. And in this new government contract, we'll probably see a lot of that. So so it depends on the healthy ness of the population, but generally when you have chronic disease, 40% have two or more.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (46:43):
Sure. Well, we have an audience member, Sophie, who asked her question about 15 minutes ago, and I've been holding off because there were so many company related questions. So she has a comment, which is that she wants to thank you for a brilliant presentation. But she says, as a young professional, very excited about digital healthcare, would you recommend a particular skillset that's most valuable in a company like Vida, both from a commercial side and a strategy side?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (47:18):
Well, I mean, we have, we have talent across all different areas. So we have people who've worked inside large payers and know the healthcare industry. We have all different types of college majors. We have engineers who majored in computer science. We have marketers, we have healthcare sales, individual. I mean, so it's, it's hard to know without knowing more about your background, what to what, but there's a lot of opportunity to work in a digital health company.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (47:50):
Well, perhaps I will suggest that Sophie send you a private note on LinkedIn, right? <Laugh>, maybe she can provide a little bit more information about her background.

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (48:00):
Yes, indeed.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (48:02):
So let's see. What three words would you use to describe Vida's culture? That's a good one, I think.

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (48:13):
Hmm. collaborative committed and comprehensive.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (48:27):
Okay. The three Cs, <laugh>. That's awesome.

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (48:31):
And we're very, we're very focused on culture, and we have there you can look at the culture of our company on our website, and we talk a lot about it. But I would say you know, we really we're a committed group that's really mission driven to drive patient outcomes.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (48:48):
Yeah. I love what you said earlier about the culture within the company, and that is, you know, it has to be grown. You have to tend to it like you would tend to a garden. So Yes, you

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (48:59):
Really do have to invest in it

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (49:01):
Frequently. Yeah. You can't expect it to just be great on its own. It takes work. Yes. Yep. Which I think also, you know, touches a bit on the empathy part because culture is also about caring for those people that you're working with, that you're around on a, a constant basis. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> we have an audience member who pointed that out. She, her comment is, she appreciates your support of human empathy for your services. This is huge and missing in so much of healthcare services today, so. All right. Well, we have a few more minutes, so as long as you're okay with it, I am going to just keep going because the questions keep coming. We've, we've hit, we've gone through just for context, almost 30 audience questions at this point. So the next question is, you know, just about competition. What are your differentiation attributes as compared to your competitors?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (50:06):
Well, the first one is that, is that we treat the body and the mind together. So what we saw when we were treating people with diabetes early on is that we had our coaches and nutritionists coming to us and saying, we can't treat the diabetes without treating the depression. So we have cognitive behavioral therapy embedded, and you're getting care for both. And so our sweet spot is really the mind in the body and co-occurring multiple chronic conditions. The second is really tech and human combined. So we have a lot of machine learning and technology and automation, but really at the center we are, you know, enabling our practitioners, our our providers to be what we call superhuman. Like really automating what they do so they can really spend time on the, the human connection and the care. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And the last one is just outcome centricity. Like we we really take pride in the outcomes we've achieved, and we focus on delivering medical cost savings, and we publish against those medical cost savings and commit performance guarantees and r ROI guarantees against those medical cost savings.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (51:16):
Great. Thank you. So here's a good one. How do you imagine the patient journey in five years, or even in 10 years, if you can think about it that far ahead?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (51:33):
Well, in five or 10 years, I believe everyone will be managing their health daily proactively, and we'll have a lot more preventive care in this country. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, we have to find a solution to this. We, healthcare is 20% of our gdp. We're on a path for it to be 30%. Okay. And we've got 40% of the people in the country have cardiometabolic disease. Right. So we, we have got to get a new plan, <laugh>, it's not an option.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (52:02):
That's right. Wow. so back to the, you know, just starting out early days investment. How early in the company's lifespan did you seek outside investment to start growing?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (52:20):
After the first prototype and the having a couple of it, you know, I think we had like four or five employees at that time, and we were all just trying to build the first version and get some traction with consumers and understand how we could scale the company and get some, you know, early growth. Like we had some we had some clear indicators of daily utilization and retention and the user experience was there and we were starting to get clinical outcomes. So that's when we started to raise.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (52:56):
Okay. Do you see ever going beyond a B2B model and perhaps reaching out to practices so that providers can directly access your services for their patients?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (53:12):
I think we're really focused on how we become the standardized chronic care solution. And so whether that be working with payers or employers or providers, and there's practices, whatever it takes to, you know, to be that standard of care we will pursue.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (53:30):
Okay. And what about Medicare patients?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (53:34):
We serve Medicare today. We have several Medicare contracts. Yeah.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (53:38):
Okay. Yeah. Speaking of contracts someone is asking about your, the eight year government contract that you mentioned. Did you have to guarantee the ROI in order to, to win that contract?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (53:52):

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (53:55):
Simple enough. And you know, I, the final question, so someone is asking, have you considered direct to patients? I'd say you've already answered that. How, as you've been building your leadership team, what would you say has been your biggest challenge? I know we talked about culture and fit and, you know, keeping someone on too long who didn't fit, but any other challenges to building your leadership team?

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (54:25):
Well, you know, I think it, particularly in digital health, you have a mix of skills. We have people from healthcare backgrounds, tech backgrounds, and so just getting alignment and really making sure you're bringing out the best of all these skillsets is a challenge.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (54:42):
Yeah, absolutely. Wow. Well, this has been such an intriguing conversation. Stephanie, I will tell you that I personally had 10 questions that I posed to you, and we are just 40 questions from the audience. So it has been, it feels like a rapid fire. I see Steven is back. So before I turn it over to Steven I'll just ask for one final piece of advice that you might want to offer for entrepreneurs who are listening in today, but are just starting out in their entrepreneurial journey.

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health (55:23):
Well, I would say do your homework and if you're going into healthcare, really understand the industry and the segment you're in. But after you've done your homework, start with one brick at a time and just get going.

Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay (55:36):
Fantastic advice. Thank you for that. Steven, back to you.

Steven Collens, CEO of MATTER (55:42):
Thank you, Suzet. Thanks so much for leading the conversation. Stephanie, thanks for all of your insight and responding to the 4D questions and for the T I M E way of managing your morning. But I know there's gonna be a lot of other people following after this thank you to everyone for joining. If you enjoyed this program next month we have, we'll be featuring Lex Rovner is the CEO and co-founder of 64 X Bio on May 16th. We also have another program coming later this month clinical Diagnostics on Consumer Electronics on the 26th of April. And you can find out more about those two programs as well as some other things we have coming up on our website, which is Thank you again, and I hope you all enjoy the rest of your day.