Clinical trials are hugely expensive for pharmaceutical companies to administer. Abraham Gutman has created a solution to make the process substantially more efficient and offers insights on new entrepreneurial opportunities in the field.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with introducing our audience to yourself as well as to the company.
Abraham Gutman: I’m the founder and CEO of AG Mednet. I’m a computer scientist by training. This is my second entrepreneurial company. I started the first company in 1998 in the area of telecommunications where we were building software to do provisioning of large carrier-based optical networks. We sold that company to AT&T. In 2005, I started AG Mednet. Perhaps it may be interesting to entrepreneurs that what I set out to build and what I’m doing right now are somewhat different.
Sramana Mitra: What did you start with? What was the concept and what did it evolve into?
Abraham Gutman: The idea for the company came from a conversation that I had at a lunch. I had sold my previous company and was trying to figure out what I was going to do next. It was a lunch with the CFO of a series of medical imaging centers down in Florida. My experience in healthcare was just that I had been to the doctor and the hospital. I was asking him about his business and he was telling me what a great business it was at that time. The big problem in growing the business was that even though there was a lot of need for taking medical images, there weren’t enough radiologists to read them. He gave me examples of why it was so hard to get radiologists. Radiologists don’t want to move from wherever they were. They didn’t want to move because they didn’t have to move. They were already making a lot of money.
I said, “Why does the radiologist have to move? I’m sure that those machines that you have must be producing some digital output. Just ship it.” Then he told me all the reasons why everybody had failed to do that up until then. The images were too big and too complex. There were issues of privacy—HIPA or the equivalent. The format was very complicated and the protocols used to move these images were not very good. You could not compress the images because compressing the images could make you lose resolution, which can affect the diagnostic. It was not doable. That was the end of the lunch. A few nights later, the eureka moment came. I said, “I can solve this problem. I know how to move these images. I come from telecommunications.”