LiteraSeed Founder Aziza Ismail on Protecting the Vulnerable

 
LiteraSeed on Wefunder

Visual-based communication for doctors to effectively assess patient condition

Summary

Misunderstandings between healthcare providers and patients can lead to serious complications — including death. Issues like language barriers and cognitive disorders increase the likelihood for such miscommunication. These patients are some of the most vulnerable, yet they can suffer the most insecurity in the American healthcare system.

LiteraSeed has created a solution to address this insecurity. Through a graphic interface that provides visual aids, patients can report what they are experiencing to doctors. The patients receive recommendations based on what they reported, and doctors receive specific reports of what the patient is experiencing.

We spoke with founder Aziza Ismail about the all-too-personal experience that inspired her to make LiteraSeed as well as what potential investors should know about the company.

Note: This interview was conducted over email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.


Kingscrowd
Can you give us a brief elevator pitch for your company?
Aziza

LiteraSeed is building a better user experience for patients to explain what’s wrong with them in a way that helps doctors effectively assess and diagnose them. People use words like “dizzy”, but that can have a number of different medical meanings. Confusion like this can be the difference of receiving life-saving care. We’re building a user interface that uses images, graphics and simple language to bridge that communication gap.

With zero funding, we’ve initiated two pilots with two health systems that serve nearly 2 million patients.

Kingscrowd
What inspired you to take the leap and build this company?
Aziza

I started LiteraSeed after a personal tragedy in my family. I had a 10 year old cousin who went to the ER with a life-threatening condition. She lost her life while waiting to see a doctor.  Better communication between her parents and the medical professionals could have saved her life.

Kingscrowd
What past experiences prepared you to start, build, and lead your company?
Aziza

After I learned about my cousin’s death, I tried to make sense of what happened and talked to a lot of people who had similar experiences. Over the next 2-3 years, I started doing some research, spoke with and shadowed some doctors and listened to other people’s stories. What I realized is that often there is some basic, essential information that can be communicated between patients or their caregivers and doctors which could be life saving.

Kingscrowd
What is your vision for the future of the industry you are operating in?
Aziza

At LiteraSeed, we believe nobody should suffer harm nor be denied high-quality healthcare because of a communication barrier. We are committed to a world where anyone — regardless of communication ability or language spoken — can get the critical care that they need. 

Kingscrowd
Who is on your team and how did you come together?
Aziza

The team consists of clinicians, researchers, and software engineers who bring expertise in AI, product development, commercialization and healthcare. We are collaborating with medical doctors from Valleywise Health — including Dr. Sonam Singh, MD, Dr. Francisco Medrano from University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Dr. Hoda Eldardiry at Virginia Tech on technology development. All of our collaborators and advisors have a strong understanding of core communication challenges which exist within the healthcare context — in some cases through personal experiences of their own — and wanted to be a part of our solution.

Kingscrowd
Do you have any competition, if so, how do you differentiate?
Aziza

We’re really the first visuals-based communication tool focused on creating the patient narrative for the point of care. One major difference is that competitors are more insurance-focused, enabling providers to collect data for billing purposes, whereas we are more patient-centric, focused on the creation of their narrative using simple visual graphics that are more easily understandable.

Kingscrowd
What does your business model look like?
Aziza

We improve care through better, more effective patient-physician-communication that captures the patient narrative more accurately. As a result, we anticipate a significant revenue opportunity through B2B contracts with health systems by helping providers reduce malpractice claims which can cost on average $5M per hospital, and improve patient satisfaction scores, which can determine 2-3% of medicare reimbursement. 

Over 67 million people in the US speak a language other than English at home. Some of them experience language barriers so severe that they often prevent patients from seeking essential medical care until it’s too late. However, the problem is not unique to immigrants. Government research said that nearly 36% of adults in the US have low health literacy. They struggle to understand health advice, symptoms they are experiencing, and they find it difficult to communicate effectively with doctors.

The problem is heightened by 2x with people who have language or other communication barriers, such as poor memory or learning disabilities. Every incident of preventable harm resulting from incorrect patient history costs health systems an average of $58,776 per injury, totaling $19.5B to the US/year.

Kingscrowd
What brought you to equity crowdfunding and how do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?
Aziza

I actually was in the Wefunder/XX Fellowship and had been convinced by my mentor to fundraise. Part of what convinced me is firstly allowing anyone to be able to invest, which includes some of my strongest advocates over the years, and secondly with two pilots in the works, things are really accelerating fast and so we need to raise money quickly. This is actually my first experience with fundraising, and I do feel that raising online has simplified the process and is allowing me to focus more of my energy on building my company. 

At minimum we are looking to raise $50k, which will allow us to do a bare bones launch with one of the health systems. At most we hope to raise $500k. That amount would allow us to have more resources to bring in more software and product development as well as client resources that allow us to go a bit faster. And it allows us to also engage with the second healthcare system with greater capacity and have more impact.

Kingscrowd
What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?
Aziza

We have an opportunity to make a significant impact on improving access and the quality of healthcare for the most vulnerable. But this also translates to patients across the entire care spectrum, including ones managing multiple chronic diseases.

We have a product that our customers love. We’ve been developing it with input from medical professionals and have a strong understanding of populations with the strongest communication barriers, AND we’ve got two pilots with two health systems that serve nearly 2M patients. 

LiteraSeed has the potential to not only save lives and reduce medically-induced injuries, but to significantly lower healthcare costs and increase revenue. This is achieved through improved patient care, reduced malpractice claims, and increased Medicare reimbursement from better patient satisfaction ratings.

Kingscrowd
As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? have you set any future goals for the company?
Aziza

We’ve been so focused on finding a solution to the problem and saving lives that we have not yet thought about an exit. We believe LiteraSeed has a considerable opportunity to improve healthcare for all by solving a fundamental problem. 

Future goals for the company are to continue to improve patient and provider communication across different disease states and to enable disease monitoring through the entire patient care journey. 


We at KingsCrowd are excited to see where Aziza and her team take the company. LiteraSeed is currently raising on Wefunder.


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About: Olivia Strobl

Olivia comes to KingsCrowd with a background in venture capital and technology. She spent time at Glasswing Ventures, an AI-focused venture fund in Boston, before joining the KingsCrowd team. There she helped develop machine learning algorithms for the opportunity qualification of preseed and seed-stage startup companies. Prior to her time at Glasswing, Olivia worked in a lab studying the neural correlates of attention. She holds a degree in Neuroscience from Wellesley College.

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