health data

Seqster’s Ardy Arianpour on How to smash Health Data Siloes

Your medical records don’t make pleasant bedtime reading. And not only are they inscrutable—they’re often mutually (and deliberately) incompatible, meaning different hospitals and doctor’s offices can’t share them across institutional boundaries. Harry’s guest this week, Ardy Arianpour, is trying to fix all that. He’s the co-founder and CEO of Seqster, a San Diego company that’s spent the last five years working on ways to pull patient data from all the places where it lives, smooth out all the formatting differences, and create a unified picture that patients themselves can understand and use.

The way Ardy explains it, Seqster “smashes the data siloes.” Meaning, the company can combine EMR data, gene sequence data, wearable device data, pharmacy data, and insurance claims data all in one place. The big goal guiding Seqster, he says, is to put the patient back at the center of healthcare.

Please rate and review The Harry Glorikian Show on Apple Podcasts! Here’s how to do that from an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch:

1. Open the Podcasts app on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

2. Navigate to The Harry Glorikian Show podcast. You can find it by searching for it or selecting it from your library. Just note that you’ll have to go to the series page which shows all the episodes, not just the page for a single episode.

3. Scroll down to find the subhead titled “Ratings & Reviews.”

4. Under one of the highlighted reviews, select “Write a Review.”

5. Next, select a star rating at the top — you have the option of choosing between one and five stars.

6. Using the text box at the top, write a title for your review. Then, in the lower text box, write your review. Your review can be up to 300 words long.

7. Once you’ve finished, select “Send” or “Save” in the top-right corner.

8. If you’ve never left a podcast review before, enter a nickname. Your nickname will be displayed next to any reviews you leave from here on out.

9. After selecting a nickname, tap OK. Your review may not be immediately visible.

That’s it! Thanks so much.

Full Transcript

Harry Glorikian: Hello. I’m Harry Glorikian. Welcome to The Harry Glorikian Show, the interview podcast that explores how technology is changing everything we know about healthcare. Artificial intelligence. Big data. Predictive analytics. In fields like these, breakthroughs are happening way faster than most people realize.

If you want to be proactive about your own health and the health of your loved ones, you’ll need to learn everything you can about how medicine is changing and how you can take advantage of all the new options.

Explaining this approaching world is the mission of my new book, The Future You. And it’s also our theme here on the show, where we bring you conversations with the innovators, caregivers, and patient advocates who are transforming the healthcare system and working to push it in positive directions.

If you’ve ever gotten a copy of your medical files from your doctor or hospital, you probably know these records don’t make pleasant bedtime reading.

They aren’t designed to be clear or user-friendly for patients. In fact, it’s usually just the opposite.

The data itself is highly technical. And on top of that, there’s the inscrutable formatting, which is dictated by whatever electronic medical record or “EMR” system your provider happens to use.

But the problem isn’t just that EMR data is incomprehensible.

It’s also that different EMRs are often incompatible with each other.

So if you’re being treated by multiple providers, it can be really tricky to share your data across institutional boundaries.

That’s why medicine is one of the last industries that still uses old-fashioned fax machines. Because sometimes a fax is the only way to send the data back and forth.

But my guest today is trying to fix all that.

His name is Ardy Arianpour, and he’s the co-founder and CEO of Seqster.

It’s a company in San Diego that’s spent the last five years working on ways to pull patient data from all the places where it lives, smooth out all the formatting differences, and create a unified picture that patients themselves can understand and use.

The way Ardy explains it, Seqster quote-unquote “smashes the data siloes.” Meaning, the company can combine EMR data, gene sequence data, wearable device data, pharmacy data, and insurance claims data all in one place.

The big goal guiding Seqster, according to Ardy, is to put the patient back at the center of healthcare.

At the moment, however, consumers can’t sign up for the service directly. Seqster’s actual customers are players from inside the healthcare industry.

For example, a life science companies might hire Seqster to help them make the experience of participating in a clinical trial more user friendly for patients.

Or a health plan might use a Seqster dashboard to get patients more involved in their own care.

Seqster did let me do a test run on my own medical data as part of my research for this interview.

And I was impressed by how quickly it pulled in data that normally lives in a bunch of separate places.

I’m hoping Seqster and other companies in this space will continue to make progress.
Because, frankly, I think poor patient access to health data and the lack of interoperability between EMRs are two of the biggest factors holding back improvements in healthcare quality.

If we can finally get those two things right, I think it can help unlock the data-driven healthcare revolution that I describe in my new book, The Future You.

Which, by the way, is out now in paperback and ebook format at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

When we spoke back in September, Ardy and I talked about better EMRs and many other things. And now here’s our conversation.

Harry Glorikian: Ardy, welcome to the show. So, it’s good to have you here, and you know, for everybody who doesn’t know your story and the story of the company, I’d love to, you know, start covering some basics like, you know, the when, the what, the how, the why. What’s the founding story of Seqster and what was the problems that you were really trying to go out there and solve when you started the company in 2016?

Ardy Arianpour: Thanks so much, Harry. Always been a fan. I think we’ve known each other for quite some time, but it’s been a long time since we’ve ran into each other since the genomic and precision medicine days. So great to see you. I hope you and your family are well and yeah, look, Seqster is super special and there’s a secret story, I guess, that never has been told. It really starts way beyond 2016 when I founded the company. So I spent 15 plus years in DNA sequencing, next gen sequencing genomic market. And during that time in the 2000s to early 2010s, I was fortunate enough of being part of some amazing endeavors and organizations that allowed my team and I to take some risk. And when you take risk, when you’re in biotech, pharma, precision medicine, genomics, bioinformatics, you learn new things that most people don’t learn because you’re you’re you’re, you know, trailblazing, I guess you could say. And we were able to do that back with one of my old companies where we were able to launch the first clinical exome test, launch the first BRCA cancer panels, launch the first next gen sequencing panels in a CLIA lab.

Ardy Arianpour: And then, you know, it wasn’t about the testing. It was all about the data, and we didn’t realize that till later and we kept on seeing that wow genome data is really only one set of all the other data pieces, right? I think the genomics folks, me being a genomics guy, I guess you could say, for a decade and a half, we’re so forward thinking that we forget about the simple things within science, and we never really thought, Oh, collect your medical data and pair it with your genomic data. We never really thought there would be a wearable out there. That data was going to be siloed, too. We never thought there was going to be, you know, many different medical devices and instruments that would be Bluetooth and sensor enabled, where there would be data that would be siloed. Claims data, pharmacy data. Never even crossed our minds. So, you know, when you put this all together, my inspiration with Seqster was actually really simple. And when I founded the company, I wanted to combine the genomic data with your EMR medical data as well as your wearable data, because in 2016, the tailwinds of those other, you know, services was really taken off.

Harry Glorikian: Right. Totally understand it. And you know, as we were talking about before I hit record, it’s like it was funny because I was just talking to another company that’s working on NLP and they’re able to look at, you know, papers and see drugs being used in different, you know, medical conditions. And then they figured out, well, they needed to tap into the unstructured data of a medical record to really, like, add the next layer of value to it. So, you know, there’s a lot of activity going on about there. But how do you guys, how do you, how do your co-founders, you know, Zhang and Dana play into like the science, the technology and what’s the sort of angle that you guys have taken to solve this problem? Or what’s your idea on how to fix it? I’m not saying it’s been solved yet, because that would be a Herculean task in and of itself. But how are you guys approaching it that? Is a little different than the. You know, maybe any any of your other you would you would consider anybody else out there, the working on this?

Ardy Arianpour: Yeah, look for us we spent a lot of time understanding the power of data. But how what makes Seqster different is no one knows the power of the patient better than us. We’ve spent time with our platform with, you know, tens of thousands of patients: rare disease patients, oncology patients, parents, autoimmune disease patients, patients that have that are seeing functional medicine folks. Patients that were having issues sharing data through telemedicine, clinical trial patients. All these sorts of patients are very different. At Seqster we focused on putting the patient at the center of health care in order to smash all the data silos from their medical institutions to their wearable technology that they wear to the DNA testing that they get and even maybe a COVID test or a vaccine. How do you bring a 360-degree patient view? And you know, you tried the system, so I think you got a small teaser of how we can do that and we’ve really cracked this large problem. It is Herculean, I believe, and a lot of people believe because it’s interoperability, it is the number one problem in all of health care.

Harry Glorikian: Yeah, I mean, I had the pleasure of trying it and imported my data and was able to see, you know, individual pieces. I mean, I made some suggestions on what might make it easier for me to hone in in different areas, right, and have the system highlighting different things. But I guess each data stream is being brought in separately and then at some point you’re going to create a master dashboard above it, because now each one is separate from when I go into each record, right, When I go into my medical record, it gives me one set of data with my lab results and everything else and the notes, and then it pulls in my wearable data separately that I have to look at, right? So you’ve got to look at it separately. It doesn’t. Then I guess the next step would be creating a master sort of view of how everything would look in a sort of I don’t want to say integrated, but at least a timeline view of the world. But. You know, following up on the the sort of the what question, you know, how do you sort of combine data from different EMRs, tests, apps, devices in a sort of scalable, repeatable way? I mean, it seems like to date, that’s been a hugely manual process, and I can imagine you could figure out every provider’s ontology and then create a table that shows what’s equivalent to. And but you know, there’s got to be sort of a translation scheme that would be required that that provides some constant readjustment as the main providers tweak and evolve their own systems, right? Because if the provider is tweaking their system, your system has then got to adapt to changes that are happening in that end. So how are you guys managing all that craziness?

Ardy Arianpour: Yeah. So I think it all and you hit on so many points, I’ll try and cover them if I remember them all. Look, the number one thing for us is we can connect to any data source. It doesn’t matter. And you saw it. And just before I continue, just tell the audience how fast, how fast, how long did it take for your data to be populated after you connected it?

Harry Glorikian: Oh, it was. I mean, yeah, as soon as I created it, I could see that it was, you know, it was digesting and then populating. And, you know, I was just I was watching it as a matter of fact, when I was on the phone with your person, that was helping me. Yeah. At first I said, Oh, it’s not there. And then a couple of seconds later, I’m like, Oh no, it’s showing up, right? So it was happening in, I don’t want to say real time, but it was happening as as we were watching it evolve, right? It was sort of it was. It was almost like watching time lapse.

Ardy Arianpour: And that’s actually a great way. That’s a great way to actually describe it. We created the time lapse of all your health data. Now let’s get to the what and the how. So we connect to any health data source. The patient is fully in control. You own your data, you control it. It’s all consented by you. We don’t own your data and we connect to every single medical record. And that’s huge that we’ve achieved nationwide coverage. We didn’t know what data you have, but we’re you’re able to connect to it. Why? Because our team, which our engineering team gets all the credit for six years now, almost since founding of the company we have written, I don’t know, seven million lines of code, that standardizes and harmonizes all of the ICD 9, ICD 10, SNOMED codes and every single lab result to every single wearable terminology, from biking to cycling to, you know, you name it, VitaminDB, you know, characterized in 40 different ways. You know, we’re harnessing data to improve patient lives at scale. We built it for scale because you can’t do it by the traditional method of just faxes and PDFs. Now, you know, being able to do that is not a bad thing.

Ardy Arianpour: We can bring that service into our platform as well. It’s already integrated, but that type of service takes 30 to 60 days and it’s static data. It’s not real time right now. If Harry goes, I don’t know, you go on a bike ride and you fall and you go to the E.R. and you had whatever data connected automatically in your sister portal, it’ll be populated without you even touching Seqster. That’s how our real time data works and another way that we’re totally differentiated than anything else in the marketplace. I was never a fan of API businesses because they’re just data in data out. I truly wanted us to create a patient engagement platform, a PEP right, or a patient relationship management system, what I call a PRM instead of a CRM. And that’s what we created with Seqster. So that is beyond an API, beyond just data. We’re visualizing the data, as you saw. We really nailed the longitudinal health record or the individualized health record. And I think it’s, I always say this, health data is medicine. The reason why it’s medicine is because our platform has saved patient lives.

Harry Glorikian: Ardy, how do you, how are you handling the free form notes, right, because I noticed that I could look at all my notes, but they weren’t necessarily, it wasn’t pulling from the note and sort of making sense of it. I mean, I could look at all of it and it was all in one place. But the the system wasn’t necessarily processing it, sort of. I was talking to Jeff Felton from ConcertAI and they do a lot of sort of, their big thing is the NLP that sort of tries to choose chew through that, which is not trivial, you know, yesterday today, context matters in health care.

Ardy Arianpour: Yeah. Look, if we created the the the Tesla of health care, let’s just say, right, we’re we’re changing the game. From static data to real time data. Ok. Well, you’re talking about is, are you going to create a helicopter as well? Right, OK. And all right. So, no, we’re not going to go create the helicopter. Is there going to be an electric helicopter by Tesla? There’s no market for that, right? So that’s why they’re not doing it now. I’m not saying there’s not a market for NLP. It’s just the fact that we’ll go ahead and partner with a third party NLP provider. And we already have we have like four of them and they all have their strengths and weaknesses because it’s not a one size fits all thing. And you know, we can already run OCR, you know, over the free text and pull certain ontology information out. And then, you know, when you partner with an NLP company, once you have a system that can capture data, you could do anything. So people always ask me, Are you going to get into AI? It’s just the buzzword. There’s a million A.I. companies. What have they really done right in health care? It’s not really there. Maybe for imaging they’ve done some things, but it’s more of a buzzword. AI only becomes valuable if you have a system, Harry, that can instantly populate data, then you can run some great artificial intelligence things on it. So NLP, AI, OCR, all those things are just many tools that can add. Now, in your experience, you only got to see about 5 percent of the power of Seqster, and that probably blew you away, even though it was five percent of the power. Because you probably never — I don’t know, you tell me, have you ever been able to collect your data that quickly? It took, what, less than a minute or two?

Harry Glorikian: Yeah, well, thank God, I don’t have a lot of data. So, you know, just when I tap into my my health care provider, you know, my data is there and it’s funny, I always tell people, being a not exciting patient is a really good thing in one way, and it’s a really bad thing because you can’t play with all the data. But you know, like even when I did my genome, it’s an extremely boring genome.

Ardy Arianpour: My question is it’s not about it being exciting or not, because thankfully you’re not a chronically ill patients. But imagine if you were and how this helps, but take a step back. I’m just asking the speed, yes, and the quality of the presentation of the data that seeks to you. It was less than what hundred seconds?

Harry Glorikian: Yeah. Well, it was very quick. And I’ve already it’s funny because I texted my doctor and I was like, I need to talk to you about a couple of these lab results that look out of out of norm, right? And they weren’t anything crazy. But I’m just curious like, you know, how do I get them in norm? I’m just I’m always trying to be in in the normal band, if I can be.

Ardy Arianpour: So it’s interesting you say that because as a healthy individual. You know, and even a chronically ill patient, it doesn’t matter. The best way to actually QC data is through visualization, and this is what this is. That’s foundational to interoperability. So we hit on semantic and structural interoperability with our, you know, backend engine that we’ve created to harmonize and standardize the data. We built many different types of retrievers and then we parse that data and then it’s standardized and harmonizes it. But that visualization, which some people call the Tableau of health data, you know that we’ve created when they see it, is really, we got to give the credit to the patients. We had so many patients, healthy ones and unhealthy ones that told us exactly how they want it to look. We did this on the genomic data, we did this on the wearable data. We did this on the medical device data and we have some great new features that can superimpose your clinical data with your fitness data on our integrated view and timeline.

Harry Glorikian: Oh, that? See, now that would be, you know, another level of value, even for a healthy patient, right to be able to see that in an integrated way. I made a suggestion, I think that when a panel shows up is. You know, highlight the ones that are out of Norm very quickly, as opposed to having to look at, you know, the panel of 20 to find the one that’s out of whack, just either color them differently or reorient them so that they’re easier to find. But those are simple changes just from a UI perspective. But so. How would you describe that that Seqster creates value and say translates that into revenue, right? I’m just trying to figure out like, what’s the revenue model for you guys? I know that you’re I can actually, I’m not even sure if I can sign up for it myself. I would probably have to do it through a system if I remember your revenue model correctly. But how do you guys generate revenue from what you’re doing?

Ardy Arianpour: Yeah, I’ll share another secret on your show here from the founding of Seqster. My dream was to empower seven billion people on our little mothership here called Earth to have all their health data in one place. And I had a direct to consumer model in 2016. The market wasn’t really ready for it, number one. Number two, it was going to cost $500 million worth of marketing to just get the message out for people to know that it exists. So long story short, in 2016, you know, when I founded the company, not that many people wanted to talk to us. They thought we were just like nuts to go after this problem. 2017, we got some calls from some investors, we raised some great seed funding after I personally put in some money in in 2016 to get the company going. And then in 2018, I got a call from Bill Gates and that was when everything changed. Bill called and wanted to meet in person, I was supposed to get 30 minutes with him. And the reason why he called is because our first beachhead was with Alzheimer’s patients. My grandmother, both my grandmothers, passed away due to Alzheimer’s disease. Both my maternal and paternal grandmothers and being a caregiver for my mom’s mom and being very close to her since she raised me, I learned a lot about a multigenerational health record, so I actually filed patents in 2016 on a multigenerational health record because I wanted to have my grandma’s data, my mom’s data, my data, and be able to pass it on to research as well as to generations down my family.

Ardy Arianpour: Long story short there, Bill gets all the credit for telling me after I showed him our platform, “You got to take this enterprise. You guys built something that Google Health failed at and Microsoft Vault Health Vault failed at.” And it’s funny we’re talking about this. Look, Google just dismantled their health division again. Why? Because tech companies just don’t get it. They have a lot of money. They have a lot of power. They’ve got a lot of smart people. But they they they don’t know where, I’ll give you an example. It’s like a tourist with a lot of money coming into a city. You don’t know where the really good local bar is, right? Why is that? You don’t know where the really good, you know, slice of pizza is. You’re going to go to the regular joints that everyone finds on TripAdvisor and whatever. You know your friends told you, but if you’re a local, you know where to get the authentic cocktails and the authentic, you know, drinks and food. Why? Because you’ve lived and breathed it in the city. So we’ve lived and breathed it right. And so we know what not to do. It’s not about knowing what to do in health care or in genomics or in biotech. It’s actually knowing what you shouldn’t be doing. Yeah.

Harry Glorikian: And knowing I got to tell you, there’s some problems where I’m like, OK, I know exactly who to call for that problem, because there aren’t, you know, they’re not falling off trees in that particular problem. There’s a small handful of people that understand that problem well enough that they can come in and sort of surgically help you solve that problem. And you can have all the money in the world and have all the smart people you want. Doesn’t mean they’re going to be able to solve that particular problem, especially in health care, because it’s so arcane.

Ardy Arianpour: And it’s getting, you know, this is a problem that is growing like cancer, interoperability. Just on this 20 minute conversation with you it has grown by hundreds of millions of dollars. Do you know why? Because data is being siloed.

Harry Glorikian: Yeah. And I think, look, I’ve always I’ve said this on, you know, whatever show or and I’ve actually I’ve written letters to Congress. You know, I think this this needs to be mandated because expecting the large EMR companies to do anything is a waste of time. They’re not going to do it on their own if their feet are not put to the fire and it changes. And honestly, I believe that if anything will stop the innovation of health care or slow it down is the EMR systems. You know, if you don’t have the data, you can’t do the work.

Ardy Arianpour: Absolutely. But you know what people don’t understand. And not to go off that tangent, but I’ll get back to the business model in a second to answer that question because I just recalled in my mind here that I didn’t answer that. Look, people don’t understand that at least the EMR companies, even though they’re like Darth Vader, you know, they needed. They’ve put some foundation there at least. If that wasn’t there, we would be in a much worse situation here, right?

Harry Glorikian: Correct, but if Satya Nadella hadn’t really changed Microsoft, really redone it right, it wouldn’t be the company it is now, and I think they [the EMR companies] are just back in the dark ages.

Ardy Arianpour: Of course, I totally agree. I’m surprised, actually. Microsoft, as an example, didn’t come up with their own EMR system and launch it to the hospitals to go, compete with the servers and all scripts and Epics of the world. If I was Microsoft, that’s what I would do. I would have enough money in power, know exactly what to do. I would take a system like Seqster and I would explode it in a good way and be the good guys and have it completely open source and open network. But that’s a whole cocktail conversation if anyone’s listening on the on the podcast that wants to talk about that. Give me a call or shoot me an email or find me on LinkedIn.

Ardy Arianpour: Let me go back to the business model real quick so people understand. So direct to consumer was what I wanted to do. We built it for the consumer, for the patients. It was the smartest and dumbest thing I ever did. Let’s go to why it was the dumbest thing first, because it was really, really hard. It was the smartest because we would not be where we are today. You wouldn’t have called me to talk on your podcast and all these other great, you know, amazing people that want to hear about how we’re, you know, cracking the code on interoperability now and changing the health care system, changing clinical trials, changing decentralized trials with our system.

Ardy Arianpour: Why? Well, it’s because our system was built by patients. Right, and so it’s a patient centric, real time, real world data platform that layers in engagements for both the providers, the payers, the pharma companies and any other enterprise that white labels our platform. We have both iOS and Android SDK and Web available. It gets fully branded. We’re the Intel Inside with the Salesforce.com business model. It’s a Software as a Service service that we offer to enterprises. Patients never pay for the service. And we do give VIP codes to chronically ill patients and VIPs, you know, journalists, podcasters and to be honest, anyone who emails me that wants to try it. I’ve been always giving on that. That costs us time and money, and I’m happy to do it because it’s my way of giving back to the community and health care because I know our team and I have built a system that have saved lives. It’s been covered by the news multiple times.

Harry Glorikian: So, so in essence, a large provider comes, buys the access to the system and then offers it to its patient population to utilize to aggregate all this information, right? How can the platform stay patient centric if the patients aren’t directly paying for it?

Ardy Arianpour: Ok, very simple. All of these enterprises in health care, whether that’s Big Pharma, right, or Big Oayer from Pfizer to Cigna, to United Healthcare group to Humana to even Amazon, right, to other tech companies, they all want to go down a patient centric way. It’s just what’s happening. You know, I’ve been talking about this since 2016 because we pioneered patient centric interoperability. That’s what we did. That’s what Seqster did. That’s that’s what we set out to do. And we did it. Some, you know, a lot of people say they can do it. Very few actually. Do we fit in that model now, right? And you had the experience yourself. And I think the first time I saw patient centric ads was. 2020. No, sorry. Yeah, 2020, JP Morgan Health Care Conference in January, just three months before the lockdowns and the pandemic started. It was the first time I went to Johnson & Johnson’s afterparty in downtown San Francisco. And saw a huge banner saying, you know, blah blah blah, patient centricity. It’s the 22nd century, you know, whatever. So they add a bunch of ads that were all patient centric, and I looked to my co-founder, Dana, and I’m like, Look at this, these guys finally caught on. I wonder if they’ve been, because we’ve been in discussions with a lot of these folks, long story short, it’s not because of Seqster, I think it’s just the market was headed that way. We were so far ahead of the market and there was no tailwinds. Now it is all there. And the pandemic afterwards accelerated digital health, as I say, by 7 to 10 years.

[musical interlude]

Harry Glorikian: Let’s pause the conversation for a minute to talk about one small but important thing you can do, to help keep the podcast going. And that’s to make it easier for other listeners discover the show by leaving a rating and a review on Apple Podcasts.

All you have to do is open the Apple Podcasts app on your smartphone, search for The Harry Glorikian Show, and scroll down to the Ratings & Reviews section. Tap the stars to rate the show, and then tap the link that says Write a Review to leave your comments. It’ll only take a minute, but you’ll be doing us a huge favor.

And one more thing. If you enjoy hearing from the kinds of innovators and entrepreneurs I talk to on the show, I know you’ll like my new book, The Future You: How Artificial Intelligence Can Help You Get Healthier, Stress Less, and Live Longer.

It’s a friendly and accessible tour of all the ways today’s information technologies are helping us diagnose diseases faster, treat them more precisely, and create personalized diet and exercise programs to prevent them in the first place.

The book is out in print and ebook format from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Just go to either site and search for The Future You by Harry Glorikian.

Thanks. And now, back to the show.

[musical interlude]

Harry Glorikian: So the platform combines EHR, genetic, and fitness data, so. Why did you start with those three?

Ardy Arianpour: So we started with those three, and I’ll get to that, but we also do pharmacy, social determinants of health, and claims data as well. So we’ve added three other very large pillars. We can connect to any data source. We’ve created a universal interoperability platform that’s patient centric that brings real time, real world data. And we’re just super excited about all the business opportunities and the big pain points that we’re solving for enterprise as well as for the patient. Why did we start with genomics, EMR, fitness. Ok. Here’s the story. So I named the company Seqster after actually going on a five or six mile run in downtown San Diego, coming back and watching The Italian Job. And in the movie The Italian Job, it’s one of my favorite movies, actually. I love that movie. I could just keep watching it over again, the real Napster was in the movie, and I used to be a Napster user where, you know, it was the way of actually pulling all your music and having it kind of in one place. Not really exactly Seqster’s model, Seqster’s model is is much more legal because it’s patient centric. Yes, Napster was kind of stealing the data, right? So long story short, I was trying to think of a company name and I’m like, Oh my God. I don’t know what hit me. I’ll remember that moment like it was yesterday, Harry. Sequster came up because I had dived into DNA sequencing. We are doing everything that you can on next gen sequencing. And so I was like, Wow! Seqster. S-E-Q-S-T-E-R.

Ardy Arianpour: And I went on GoDaddy.com. I bought it for $9.99. And the story started from right then. It was just me and the website. No co-founders, no onee else. I was just thinking, this is a great name. Now, you fast forward to why it’s medical data plus genomic data, plus fitness data, to begin with. Well, the genomic data was an easy one because, right, I have 15 years underneath my belt on genomic sequencing technologies and clinical diagnostics and doing a lot of great things for patients in that arena. And I knew that it couldn’t just be the genome, right? That’s where the medical data came in because we knew and I never knew that we would be able to actually build something that would be able to pull it on together. I knew it was going to be really tough. I didn’t think it was going to be this tough. We would have never done it if I knew that it was this tough. It’s so great that we did because we solved it. But if you go back and say, “Ardy, would you do it again if you knew it was going to be this tough?” I wouldn’t, because it’s really, it’s not the number two problem, it’s the number one problem. And we’re just, you know, I’m a peon. I’m a very small dot. I’m not anyone special. I’m just very passionate about solving this problem. That’s it. And so is my team, and we got a great team and we’ve execute on. So great.

Ardy Arianpour: And then, you know, it was my idea. I was forcing the wearable and fitness data because I was interested in that. And when the Apple Series One Watch came out, it was very limited, but I saw how it was going to change, you know, just connection of data. And my team being bioinformaticians and from the genomics world were so against bringing it in, I mean, I could show you emails of fights about me saying, get fitness data in here. They were not interested. I forced it on them. And then next thing you knew, clinical trials. One of the biggest things was how do you bring sleeping data and wearable data to x y z data? And that market started taking off. Decentralized trials. You can’t even do it if you don’t have wearable data. And so everyone started saying, you know, OK, you were right. That was one. I get one big pat on the back. And then we realized we can’t be limited to just those three pillars. So what are the next three that we can work on? And that was claims data so we can marry it with the EMR and medical data for payers. And then we ran into pharmacy data. We just signed our first digital pharmacy deal three weeks ago with Paragon Health. And if we didn’t have those capabilities, we wouldn’t have the business opportunities. And the social determinants of health data being our last integrations comes in very handy for various different use cases.

Harry Glorikian: So, three sort of things, right? You know, you combine all this data. What can you learn that wasn’t obvious before? How do you translate into better health outcomes for consumers or, say, smarter decision making by consumers, right, so those are two potentially different ways to look at it.

Ardy Arianpour: Absolutely. So one word for you: Seqster’s longitudinal health record drives health economics, outcomes, research. It drives it.

Harry Glorikian: Is that your clients doing that, you doing that, a third party group coming in?

Ardy Arianpour: Yeah. We don’t do that. We’re just the patient engagement and data aggregation operating system that gets implemented for enterprise. And then the enterprise can run the analytics on top of it. They can, you know, take all of the raw data. So we’re the only 21 CFR Part 11 compliant platform too. We’re fully FDA compliant, Harry. It took us 19 months working with the FDA in order to get our compliance letter in September, October of last year, 2020. So about a year ago. And not only are we HIPAA compliance, not only are we High Trust certified and 256 bit encrypted on all the data that comes in, but having that FDA compliance sets us apart number one. Number two, because we’re not an API, we have FHIR fully integrated. We have an API for sharing data, but we’re not an API business. We’re a SaaS business in health care, in digital health. We can make any company a digital health company. Let’s say it’s Coca-Cola, and they want to empower their 200,000 employees. They could launch a Coca-Cola Seqster white label in 72 hours to 200,000 employees. That’s what we’ve created. Now, take that and imagine that now within pharma, within precision medicine, within clinical trials, within the payer network, which we’re the only platform that’s CMS ONC interoperability compliance from the Twenty First Century CURES Act as well.

Harry Glorikian: So let me let me see if I… I’m trying to figure out like the angle, right? So I mean, ideally for interoperability, if we talk about the highest level right, you really want to get Epic, Cerner, Kaiser, et cetera, all in a room right? And get them to agree to something. Which is like an act of God.

Ardy Arianpour: Some people say, we’re doing, you know, it’s not my words, but again, a figure of speech, people say, we’re doing God’s work.

Harry Glorikian: But stepping back here for a second, what I see you guys doing is actually giving a platform to the patient and the patient is then connecting the record, not necessarily the systems themselves allowing for interoperability to take place.

Ardy Arianpour: So yes, but you’re speaking of it because of the direct to consumer experience that you had. The experience we gave you is much different than the experience from the enterprise side. We have a full BI platform built for enterprise as well. Right. And then we have the white label for the enterprise where they launch it to a million patients.

Harry Glorikian: That’s what, I’m trying to think about that, right? So. Coca-cola says, like, going down your example, Coca-Cola says, “Love to do this. Want to offer it to all of our employees.” We make it available to them. But it’s the employee that has to push the start button and say, yes, I want my electronic medical record to be integrated into this single platform, right?

Ardy Arianpour: But that’s that’s an example with Coca-Cola. If we’re doing something with Big Pharma, they’re running a clinical trial for 500,000 COVID patients, as an example. They’re getting data collection within one day versus two months, and guess what, we’re going to be driving a new possible vaccine. Why? Because of the time it takes for data collection at scale. We empower patients to do that and they get something back. They get to track and monitor all their family health.

Harry Glorikian: Right. So so it’s sort of, you know, maybe I’m being dense, but sort of the same thing, right? Big Pharma makes it available to the patient. The patient then clicks, Yes, I want to do this and pull in my medical records to make it all everything to be in one place. Yes.

Ardy Arianpour: Yes. And I think it’s about the fact that we’ve created a unique data sharing environments. So that’s, you know, Harry and Stacey and John and Jennifer and whoever, you know, with whatever use case can share their data and also consent is built with E-consent and digital consent is built within that process. You don’t share anything you don’t want to share.

Harry Glorikian: Right. So let me see if I got this correct. So Seqster is providing a translation and aggregation between systems through a new layer of technology. Not creating true interoperability between systems, right?

Ardy Arianpour: Yes. There’s a spider web. And. We have untangled the spider beb in the United States of America. We’ve done all the plumbing and piping to every single health institution, doctor’s office clinic, wearable sensor, medical device pharmacy, the list goes on and on, Harry.

Harry Glorikian: So let’s… Another question. So how does the 21st Century CURES Act of 2016 relate to your business? I think you know you’ve said something like Seqster has become law, but I’m trying to. I’m trying to understand, what do you mean when you say that?

Ardy Arianpour: So when we founded Seqster, we didn’t know there was going to be a Twenty First Century CURES Act. We didn’t know there was going to be GDPR. We are GDPR compliance before GDPR even came out. Right? Because of our the way that we’ve structured our business, number one. Number two, how we built the platform by patients for CMS ONC interoperability, you know, final rulings and the Twenty First Century CURES Act, which is, they’re synonymous. We worked hand in hand with Don Rucker’s team and Seema Verma on the last administration that was doing a lot of the work. Now a wonderful gentleman, Mickey Tripathy has taken the role of ONC, and he understands, you know, the value of Seqster’s technology at scale because of his background in interoperability. But what was interesting in the two years that we worked with HHS and CMS was the fact that they used Seqster as the model to build the rules. I was personally part of that, my team was personally part of that, you know, and so we were in private meetings with these folks showing our platform and they were trying to draft certain rules.

Ardy Arianpour: We didn’t know that they were going to be coming out with rules until they did. And then that’s when high level folks in the government told us specifically on calls and also even at Datapalooza when I gave a keynote talk on on Seqster, when Don Rucker did as well right before me. You know, we’re sitting in the speaker room and folks are like, “You’re going to become law in a month.” And this was in February of 2020. March 9th, those rules dropped. I was supposed to give a keynote talk at HL7,  at HIMMS. HIMMS got cancelled in 2020. I just got back from HIMMS 2021 in Vegas just a week and a half ago. It was fantastic. Everyone was masked up. There was only three cases of COVID with 10,000 people there. They did a great job, you know, regulating it. You had to show your vaccine card and all that good stuff. But you know, I would have never thought Seqster becomes law when we were founding the company. And so this is really special now.

Harry Glorikian: So what does success look like for Seqster?

Ardy Arianpour: It depends how you measure it. So we’re in the Olympics. It’s a great question. Here’s my answer to you. We’re in the Olympics just finished, right? So we started out in track and field. We were really good at running the 400 Meters and then somehow we got a use case on the 4×1 and the 4×4. And then we did really well there, too. And then because of our speed, you know, we got some strength and then they wanted us to get into the shot put and the javelin throw and then we started winning there, too. And then somehow, now people are calling us saying, “Are you interested in trying to swim?” We got the 100 meter butterfly. Well, we’ve never done that. So success for us is based off of use cases. And every use case that we deal with, within clinical trials and pharma, we’ve define 24 distinct use cases that we’re generating business on. Within the payer community now, because of the CMS ONC Twenty First Century Cures Act, there’s a major tailwind. Within life insurance for real time underwriting, there’s, you know, a plethora of folks that are calling us for our system because of the patient engagement. So this patient centricity for us has been a central pillar, and I’ve never allowed anyone in our company, whether it’s the board or our investors or employees, you know, get sidetracked from that. We’ve been laser focused on the patients and success at impacting patient lives at scale.

Harry Glorikian: So as a venture guide, though, right, like I’m going to, there’s only so much money on so much time to tackle, so many different opportunities, right? So it’s there is a how do we create a recurring revenue stream and keep plugging along and then generate either enough revenue or raise enough money to do more? And so just trying to think through that for what you guys are trying to do, I get the 4×100 and the swimming. But all of that takes money and resources right to be able to prove out, of course.

Ardy Arianpour: And here’s another thing we’re in a different state. Look, my team and I had a major exit before. We built a billion dollar company out of $3 million. And even though we weren’t founders of that company, you know, I was the senior vice president and we we did really well. So, you know, that allowed us to not take salaries that allowed us to take our money and put it into doing something good. And we did that in 2016 to seed it. And then afterwards, I raised, you know, millions of dollars from folks that were interested in, you know, this problem and saw that our team had a track record. And I actually was not interested, Harry, in raising a Series A because of our experience, but we kept on getting calls. And then just six months ago, we announced, you know, our series a funding. Well, we actually announced it in March, I think it was, but we closed our Series A in January of this year and it was led by Takeda Pharma, Anne Wojcicki’s 23andMe and United Healthcare Group’s Equian folks that created Omniclaim and sold to UnitedHealth Group Omni Health Holdings.

Ardy Arianpour: So check this out. Imagine my vision in 2016 of having medical data, genomic data fitness data. Well, if you look at the investors that backed us, it’s pretty interesting. What I reflect on is I didn’t plan that either. We got amazing genomic investors. I mean, it doesn’t get better than getting Anne Wojcicki and 23andMe. Amazing female entrepreneur and, you know, just the just the force. Secondly, Takeda Pharma, a top 10 pharma company. How many digital health startups do you know within Series A that got a top 10 pharma? And then also getting some payer investors from UnitedHealth Group’s Omniclaim folks and Equian OmniHealth Holdings. So this is to me, very interesting. But going to focus our focus has been pharma and clinical trials. And so Takeda has been phenomenal for us because of, you know, they they built out the platform and they built it out better for us and they knew exactly what to do with things that we didn’t know. And with things that patients didn’t know on the enterprise, you know, Takeda did a phenomenal job. And now other pharma companies are utilizing our platform, not just Takeda.

Harry Glorikian: Yeah, well, they want their data aggregation. They want as much data on the patient aggregated in one place to make sense of it.

Ardy Arianpour: So not necessarily that they actually want to empower patients with a patient centric engagement tool. That’s pharma’s number one thing right now, the data part, obviously is important, but empowering patient lives at scale is the key, and that’s that’s our mission. And so, yeah, that’s that’s a whole ‘nother cocktail conversation when I see you soon hopefully in a couple of weeks.

Harry Glorikian: Hopefully as life gets, or if it gets back to normal, depending on the variants, you know, we’ll hopefully get to meet him in person and have a glass of wine or a cocktail together. So it was great to speak to you. Glad we had this time, and I look forward to, you know, hearing updates on the company and, you know, continually seeing the progress going forward.

Ardy Arianpour: Thanks so much, Harry, for having me. Big fan of Moneyball, so thank you to you and your organizers for having me and Seqster on. If anyone wants to get in touch with me personally, you can find me on LinkedIn or you can follow Seqster at @Seqster. And again, thank you so much for. For having a great discussion around, you know, the the insights behind Seqster.

Harry Glorikian: Excellent. Thank you.

Harry Glorikian: That’s it for this week’s episode.  You can find past episodes of The Harry Glorikian Show and MoneyBall Medicine at my website, glorikian.com, under the tab Podcasts.

Don’t forget to go to Apple Podcasts to leave a rating and review for the show. You can find me on Twitter at hglorikian. And we always love it when listeners post about the show there, or on other social media. Thanks for listening, stay healthy, and be sure to tune in two weeks from now for our next interview.

Related Posts