What’s the inspiration behind CallingDr?
The inspiration for CallingDr started when I personally felt the need to use telemedicine as a parent over a decade ago. We lived in Florida, and during hurricane season one of my children was sick. As a Dad, I wished we had the option of a virtual visit instead of physically having to take our child to the hospital in that weather. The lack of access to medical care during natural disasters was a real problem. It was an experience that my wife Iram and I often talked about.
Fast forward to 2017, I had just completed a project to create an electronic medical record. We were talking about advances in technology and how it affects our daily lives; smartphones used more frequently and improved internet. The conversation shifted to how technology can benefit healthcare.
Iram’s experience is in healthcare, mine is in technology. We often discussed telehealth and how we thought it could address the U.S. healthcare industries growing list of problems. We felt through our shared tools and technologies we could make a positive impact in our communities. It started with a family conversation sitting on a sofa. From there, we grew our team with like-minded individuals and then bootstrapped to build a company.
You have founded several companies prior to CallingDr and hold a number of U.S. patents. Where do you draw inspiration for these ideas?
With all of my companies, I’m motivated to create something that improves people's lives in some way. Whether it's an innovation that makes a hobby more enjoyable, or a tool that gives patients greater access to healthcare.
What do you think is the most important skill leaders need to succeed?
I think great leaders have a variety of skills. The one I focus on most is communication. I believe with open and transparent communication, there is creativity and innovation. Listening to what others have to say (opinions, ideas, etc) helps us all improve.
With strong communication, it’s easier to translate a company’s vision from an idea to reality. It’s amazing how much power words have.
How did you meet your co-founder? How do you work together?
Well, one of the co-founders is my wife Iram. We have been married for 25 years. She has extensive background in healthcare, but I’m sure she won’t mind me telling you she is not the most tech savvy individual. She has so many important roles in the company, one of them being pre-launch product testing. When I saw her navigate the CallingDr telemedicine platform with ease, I knew we had a truly user-friendly product. There are many qualities that I love about her. One of them is her grit; she has this persistence, passion and resilience that not only helps her reach her goals but constantly rubs off on me!
Kashif and I had the opportunity to get to know each other on previous projects. When Iram and I contemplated our entrepreneurial activity, we knew we had to bring Kashif into the equation. He is great at what he does, and he is aligned with our vision to help communities the best we can.
How do you handle risk and competition?
Building relationships and investing in efforts to bring a greater number of people to join our CallingDr family. I believe it is not transactional, but rather a relationship that inspires others to join us in this journey.
What’s been the #1 (or two) top challenges you’ve faced while launching your company?
When it comes to adoption of new technology in healthcare, it is always going to be difficult. This was especially true in the beginning when there were inadequate parity laws and Medicare reimbursement restrictions. Now our main frustration is when CallingDr is compared to other platforms, which offer less than half the features.
Some of our competitors have white labelled products and all they offer is a simple tele-visit platform. On the other hand, we have a complete telehealth solution. Not only telemedicine, but we are a “HealthTech” company. This is a phrase I use a lot, as we offer many integration options to clients including end-to-end solutions.
Have you learned anything new or surprising about yourself through this process?
Yes, I have learned how much inequality in healthcare access bothers me. We live in one of the richest nations in the world, yet our fellow Americans are suffering from health problems that could be easily prevented if they had access to timely treatment.
When I was in my tech bubble, I was not aware of how this great nation has a real health professional shortage, and what a negative impact it has on our communities. I experience such excitement when a clinic adopts CallingDr, as I know it’s going to help someone get access to the healthcare they need.
How have you adapted to meet the needs of COVID-19?
Officials from the CDC are urging hospitals and doctors to use telehealth services to treat patients with existing medical conditions and reduce the spread of COVID-19. A virtual visit can help healthcare providers with assessing and treating patients regardless of the geographical location.
We have been seeing an influx in demand for using CallingDr as an ideal first line of defense against COVID-19 because it allows early detection and limits the exposure of both the patients and the healthcare providers. Unfortunately, without a vaccine we have limited therapies.
However, we do have technology on our side! We’ve updated our app so there is now a “one click button” that can be pressed and makes the virtual visit even more user friendly and time saving. This allows more patients to be seen by healthcare providers with a fraction of user error. Plus, we realize that during this economic time, budgets are restrained so we are offering one month free to healthcare providers to support the people in their communities.
What’s your team culture like?
Innovative-- we grow and thrive through innovation.
What is your superpower?
I am quick at recognizing the strengths and hidden talents in our team members.
What’s your kryptonite?
Overeating the wrong type of food. I enjoy French fries, but I know there are many healthier ways to eat potatoes.
Do you have any unusual routines or habits?
I like a hot cup of tea with two teabags soaked for five minutes in the same ceramic mug every day.
Do you have any other hobbies/things you like to do in your spare time?
ATV riding with my kids. I love exploring adventurous trails--from sand dunes in Dubai, to swamps in Florida, to the rain forest in Australia. I also enjoy reading history books. It gives me a better understanding of the world, of change and it inspires me.
Are there any apps or gadgets that you can’t live without?
My bamboo back scratcher.
If you could give yourself one piece of advice 5 years ago, what would it be?
Take care of your body better. Adnan, you do your best work when you’re taking regular walks and eating right!