“People who believe their job has meaning are more likely to enjoy their work,” — CEO Q&A with Frances Abeton of WHYZE Health

By Business & Finance
05 April 2023
Pictured: Frances Abeton, CEO & Co-Founder, WHYZE Health

Frances is Co-Founder of WHYZE Health, where she was named CEO in 2021. Powered by her personal experience as the parent of a child with a complex health condition she decided to create WHYZE Health. 

What are your main priorities and goals in your role?

As co-founder and CEO of WHYZE Health, a startup based in Dublin, Ireland, setting the vision for the WHYZE Health Platform was the core focus for myself and the Executive Leadership Team. The extensive domain knowledge of the Leadership team, coupled with talking to our target customers, helped extensively when designing the WHYZE Heath Platform, the first Health and Research Ecosystem, connecting the critical stakeholders, patients, healthcare providers, and research organisations. 

Working with the Health Innovation Hub of Ireland, we got the opportunity to validate the WHYZE Health Platform in Blackrock Health Galway Clinic. This first validation helped us discover whether the problem was worth solving and obtain valuable feedback from our future users, being patients and Healthcare providers.   

The strongest validation signal WHYZE Health has obtained is by designing an offer for our early adopting customers, which resulted in a pipeline of revenue-generating projects.  

Raising further capital for the WHYZE Health startup is an essential priority for myself and the Executive Leadership Team. We have built a solid business plan and a strategic investment partnership with Elligo Health Research to strengthen our success. 

What are your biggest challenges as CEO?

As a start-up having a strong, experienced Leadership Team possessing domain knowledge is critical to the success of WHYZE Health.  The challenge is attracting such talent on a start-up budget. 

We have been extremely fortunate that the WHYZE Health mission was the driving force for me to attract a strong, highly experienced team.   

How do you keep your team/staff motivated?

As one of WHYZE Health’s co-founders, people who believe their job has meaning and a broader purpose are more likely to enjoy their work, take on challenges, and collaborate effectively.

Throughout my career, I have seen people repeatedly deliver their best effort and ideas when they feel they are part of something more significant than the pursuit of a salary. 

As a start-up, we have a small team of genuinely passionate engineers, data scientists, and health & research experts delivering exceptional solutions to overcome the challenges we face in the digital Health & Research sector. 

The WHYZE Health team receives feedback directly from patients, understanding the positive impacts the platform has on the real lives of our patients using the WHYZE Health solution. This gives the team a clear sense of how their work directly affects specific patients and the impact of their work on people’s lives. 

Firsthand interactions are vital to motivating the WHYZE Health Team. 

What are the challenges facing the industry going forward?

A core aim of digital health and research technology is to help facilitate data sharing between patients, healthcare providers, and research organisations. Increasing this connectivity and access to the correct data empowers knowledgeable patients and enables more timely decision-making between clinicians and patients.   

However, connectivity is critical and is the biggest challenge facing the growth of the digital health industry. Healthcare data vendors, payers, providers, and organisations have faced challenges due to the traditional systems and struggled with unifying health data records. 

It’s now time for healthcare organisations to seize the opportunities to build a strong foundation for data interoperability that is consolidated, secure, easily accessible, and transparent with the advancement in technology and integration of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cloud computing powers.

It’s time to give patients full access to their health records, empowering them to make more informed health choices.  

What new trends are emerging in your industry?

The Healthcare & Research world is very different than it was ten years ago. The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the recent financial downturn, and an acceleration in the adoption of technology and digitization have dramatically changed the landscape for everyone, patients, and practitioners.

Artificial intelligence (AI) — specifically, machine learning (ML) tools in healthcare is forecast to top $20 million in 2023. Various AI-aligned technologies, such as computer vision, natural language processing, and pattern recognition algorithms, are already deeply embedded in the healthcare and research ecosystem and will continue to be adopted as evidence of their usefulness grows throughout 2023.

At WHYZE Health, our products focus on improving patients’ health outcomes. WHYZE Health leverages AI capabilities to accelerate healthcare and research processes for healthcare providers and researchers while democratising patient access.  

Are there any significant changes you would like to see in your sector?

While the healthcare cost continues to rise, and there are ongoing shortages of medical practitioners in many countries, it’s a safe bet that all varieties of remote healthcare will continue to be a growing trend.Healthcare and Research conducted remotely increased during the pandemic. 

Now that it is safe to resume face-to-face appointments, many patients and healthcare providers realise that care can be provided more efficiently and cost-effectively remotely for many conditions. Remote care is a trend that will continue to grow and evolve. At WHYZE Health, we have created a platform focused on delivering better health outcomes for patients, unifying healthcare and research.  

The growth in online communities has been evident and part of our everyday social lives. There is now an understanding of the importance of online communities, which are patient-led, where users can come together and share their experiences and advice related to their treatments and recovery. Helping “patients like me” get better health outcomes, shifting from the advice of one to the guidance of many experienced patients. 

As an employer, are you finding any skill gaps in the market?

There is a mismatch between the demands of the modern labour market and the number and level of people to meet those demands, specifically in the digital health and research sector.

As a start-up, WHYZE Health has a focused approach to hiring people who can fill the immediate gap, as we don’t have the luxury of finding people that will develop over the course of a career at this stage in our journey.  

How has the COVID-19 crisis affected your business/sector?

The COVID-19 pandemic forced digital technology adoption, where often before, there was a tinkering adoption approach, and large national healthcare providers refused to adopt. This was evident for providers such as Teladoc in the US, where visits trebled to 2.8 million between 2019 and 2020. 

This cultural and organisational barrier breakdown was an opportunity that accelerated the growth of the WHYZE Health Platform, specifically in the areas of wider access for patients to research as a health option, accelerating recruitment and population-level analytics. 

How do you define success, and what drives you to succeed?

Success for me is using my potential and helping the team unleash its potential, building a culture that will enable the WHYZE team to hit our targets together as we grow over the coming years. At WHYZE, success starts with our people and the relationship we have built around our team, enabling the delivery of our targets and achieving the numbers.  For me, it’s more about building a powerful WHYZE team and measuring the impact we make as a team.  

What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?

Reach out and talk to people who have already accomplished or done what you are trying to do! I have sought help from many Irish and International entrepreneurs, who have helped me solve challenging problems or navigate difficult situations. Their shared experiences and insights have saved me an unbelievable amount of time, heartache, and money by simply picking up the phone. 

What have been your highlights in business over the past year?

2022 was a very successful year in the life of WHYZE Health.  

We secured an investor partnership with Elligo Health Research. The Elligo-WHYZE strategic partnership has supercharged our go-to-market strategy in Ireland and beyond, and it’s a growth accelerant that we will continue to use enthusiastically.  

The WHYZE Health pilot study became part of the Health Innovation Hub Ireland Open Call 2022. The HIHI Open Call allowed WHYZE Health to work with Blackrock Health Galway Clinic to show the efficacy and value of the platform in a live environment. This has permitted WHYZE Health to highlight the benefits of the platform to the needs of patients, healthcare staff, and the healthcare system. 

We have built early revenues from projects and have a pipeline of Healthcare Institution projects in planning.  

What’s next for your company?

At WHYZE Health, we are focused on closing our funding round in early 2023, continuing to deploy the WHYZE Health Platform, and building a Research pipeline of clinical trials with Irish healthcare providers.  Launching the WHYZE Health app on the Irish Market is a crucial milestone for the company, enabling wider access to research for patients in Ireland. 

Working with the wider WHYZE team, we continue to work towards achieving our 2023 goals, demonstrating the value we deliver to our customers while creating a new pipeline of opportunities. 

Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?

At WHYZE Health, we are driven by enabling better health outcomes and broader access to clinical trials for healthcare providers and patients. Our focus for 2023 is to achieve this for Irish healthcare providers and patients and beyond.