As one of the world’s first black and female CEOs in the blockchain industry, Patientory founder Chrissa McFarlane knows a thing or two about overcoming challenges to get where she needs to be. Against all the odds, she has been able to bootstrap her startup to the tune of $8.7 million through a succession of funding rounds, the most recent being a $1.5 million funding round that closed in April this year.
It’s impressive because multiple studies underscore the difficulty faced by minority female entrepreneurs when it comes to raising funds. One 2020 study by Goldman Sachs found that black women business owners are three-times more likely to be rejected than white business owners when seeking funding. Moreover, analysis from McKiney shows that just 2% of the venture capital raised in 2020 went to female founding teams.
In an interview, McFarlane pointed out that getting funding for Patientory was made all the more difficult because it’s looking to disrupt a healthcare industry where the understanding and adoption of new technologies often lags behind others. “The majority of investors we spoke to didn’t grasp the connection between blockchain and healthcare, or didn’t perceive our business model as viable,” she said.
To overcome these difficulties, McFarlane adopted a strategic approach that involved lots of networking in both the healthcare and investment communities to try and find people who share her vision.
“We knew that a key element of our success would be our ability to clearly communicate the value of our Web3 platform in revolutionizing healthcare data management,” she explained. “Crafting a compelling business plan that outlined not only the technology but also the impact it could have on the healthcare industry was crucial.”
Improving Access To Healthcare Data
Having succeeded in raising funds, McFarlane believes her experience will prove to be a valuable lesson on what it takes to succeed as a startup. It’s experience that’s badly needed, for Patientory is attempting to make its mark on an industry that’s notoriously unwilling to adopt new technologies.
When asked about what Patientory is trying to achieve, McFarlane outlined a number of ambitious goals. She explained that its primary offering is a consumer-focused digital health data wallet that empowers people to take control of their healthcare data and earn reward-based payments for maximizing their well-being. If patients stick to a healthy diet and exercise regimen and take their medication as prescribed, they can earn cryptocurrency rewards from Patientory. In essence, it’s incentivizing people to be healthy, the CEO explained.
“Patientory endeavors to transform the healthcare landscape by leveraging blockchain to enhance data accessibility, security, and privacy,” she said. “Our overarching goal is to empower patients by granting them greater control over their health data, enabling individuals to access and manage their medical records with ease.”
That’s not all, though. Additionally, Patientory also seeks to improve interoperability between disparate healthcare systems, making it simpler for organizations to share medical data in order to provide doctors and hospital staff with comprehensive access to patient histories. This is something that has always been a major challenge given the siloed nature of most healthcare data. McFarlane said one of the major problems is that much healthcare data is paper-based, fragmented, and heavily regulated. These are the issues Patientory solves with its blockchain-based platform, she said.
“By digitizing medical records and leveraging blockchain’s encryption and immutability, Patientory ensures the integrity and privacy of patient data,” McFarlane promised. “Its interoperable approach facilitates seamless sharing of information across different healthcare entities, reducing the inefficiencies of paper-based systems.”
In this way, Patientory establishes a framework for secure healthcare data management, making it easier for organizations to share and access comprehensive patient records while still maintaining confidentiality. It uniquely transforms healthcare data access in a compliant way, the CEO added.
Fueling Medical Research
As if the task of bringing data accessibility and interoperability to an industry that’s famously resistant to change isn’t hard enough, Patientory believes it can play a role in transforming medical research and analytics, too. McFarlane says that by making medical data more accessible, this information can be analyzed with AI and other advanced algorithms to provide greater insights on disease trends and the outcomes of different treatments. It can also match patients with the most appropriate clinical trials, helping to speed up research and bring new treatments to those who need them most. It has already partnered with numerous pharmaceutical giants in this endeavor, helping names such as Moderna, Novavax, Seagen, and Athira Pharma to recruit for clinical trials.
Additionally, Patientory’s app can also give patients a way to monetize their health data in a secure way. “It offers individuals an opportunity to benefit financially from sharing their information, further incentivizing participation and data sharing,” McFarlane explains. “Ultimately, Patientory envisions a future where patients are better informed and engaged in healthcare decisions, while healthcare providers can deliver more personalized and effective care, contributing to improved healthcare outcomes, experiences, and financial opportunities for all.”
Patientory’s Positive Impacts
Although these do sound like lofty goals, McFarlane stressed that there is no reason why Patientory cannot achieve them. She listed a number of positive impacts her startup can have on people’s lives if it becomes a cornerstone of healthcare data management.
For instance, Americans will see a substantial improvement in healthcare accessibility and convenience, she believes. “With Patientory, patients can easily access their medical records, test results, and treatment history from anywhere, reducing the need for repetitive paperwork and making it simpler to transfer records between healthcare providers and actually benefit from improved health by learning and applying data insights.”
Second, she said individuals may also be able to profit from their health data by participating in data-driven research or by sharing their data with big pharmaceutical companies that would likely pay to acquire it. “This additional income stream can be particularly meaningful for some individuals and families,” she said.
The third major benefit, and perhaps the most significant of all, is that Patientory can contribute towards building a more efficient and cost-effective healthcare system in the U.S. By streamlining data sharing, McFarlane stated that her company can help to reduce administrative overheads for healthcare providers, freeing up more resources to improve patient care and potentially even reduce healthcare costs, increasing accessibility to more promising treatments.
The Next Steps
McFarlane conceded that Patientory still has a long road ahead before it can deliver these benefits to millions of Americans. It’s for this reason that she’s pursuing a multi-pronged strategy for growth. She said the company is focused on scaling adoption, enhancing data security and privacy, fostering interoperability, driving innovation through research, nurturing diverse partnerships, maintaining regulatory compliance, expanding globally and incorporating user feedback into iterative improvements in its services. With these plans in place, all that’s left for Patientory to do is execute on them.
“By pursuing these strategic directions, Patientory aims to solidify its position as a transformative force in healthcare data management, contributing to improved accessibility, security, and efficiency in the healthcare industry on a broader scale,” she said.
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