Welcome to Startup of the Week. A column highlighting BC’s most innovative and exciting tech startups. Today, we’re featuring Vancouver’s Arya EHR.
Today’s Healthcare Industry is complex, multifaceted and ever changing. Yet prevalent methods of tracking client medical records offer an outdated, expensive and “one size fits all” process which often fails to meet the needs of the industry. These traditional client tracking systems are time consuming, and inefficient.
Arya EHR, a company created by physicians, for physicians, recognizes this industry shortcoming, and is dedicated to building technology that is cost-effective, intuitive, easy to use, and creates solutions, rather than problems.
Dr. Richard Vandegriend, Co-Founder of Arya EHR, talks about “everyday heroes” and emphasizes the importance of perseverance and enjoying the journey as a startup.
Q: If you were giving your presentation to a grade 5 class, how would you describe what your company does?
A: When a person has an appointment with a doctor, they share personal medical information with the doctor. This includes their medical history (ex: medications they take, or illnesses they have had), recent changes in their health (ex: nausea or changes in weight) and details regarding their family member’s health (ex: diseases that their parents had). Arya is a cloud based software that stores all of this patient information so the doctor can quickly reference it
anywhere, anytime. We call this software an Electronic Health Record or EHR. In addition to storing patient information, the EHR can also help the doctor:
- Schedule patient appointments
- Send appointment reminders to the patient
- Send patient results and information to other doctors or clinics
- Send prescriptions for medications to pharmacies
- Start a virtual video visit if the patient cannot attend the appointment in person
- Submit bills to the province so the doctor can be paid
Q: Explain the main problem your company solves.
A: Arya was founded by a team of physicians, who felt frustrated using outdated EHR solutions that were poorly designed, inefficient, expensive and difficult to use. By streamlining workflows and automating many of the administrative burdens on a clinic, Arya EHR significantly improves physician efficiency, work load, expenses and most importantly the time that they have to care for their patients.
Arya offers a modern and comprehensive EHR solution that is continually improving itself based on the real world use of Arya by its founding physicians.
Q: What would people be surprised to know about?
A: We formally launched Arya EHR in January 2020, only 2 months before the pandemic hit Canada. We feared the worst! Without being able to meet clients face-to-face, and with physicians working virtually, we thought they would be otherwise too busy to give a thought of switching to a better EHR.
We did not expect that the challenges posed by the pandemic would spur the traditionally conservative medical profession to innovate and fully embrace virtual care and telehealth. Arya EHR rose to the need, rapidly developing and launching our in-house telehealth, e-prescribing and online booking features into the platform. Our sales process became easier in fact, as physicians preferred to meet virtually. The mental shift to virtual connections meant they were now accepting of new technology and innovative approaches to health care. Little did we know this would be a catalyst to our growth.
Q: How do you predict or anticipate future trends?
A: We stay informed on industry trends by being active users in the space. We work in clinics and hospitals and get first hand knowledge of trends and the needs of our colleagues in the industry. This helps us stay ahead of the game so we can adapt Arya to meet future requirements.
Admittedly, we haven’t always been right. Sometimes trends have come to us instead of us predicting them. An example of this is telehealth (the ability to meet a patient virtually through a webcam instead of in person in a medical office). When we launched Arya, telehealth wasn’t on our road map in the near term. Then the pandemic hit and we had to rapidly build this feature as our clients needed it.
We have predicted trends too though. In building Arya EHR we anticipated the desire for physicians to access their EHR from different locations (clinic, hospital, home office, etc.). Most EHRs are on location dependent computers and are hard to access remotely. With this prediction, we built Arya EHR to be a cloud based in order to accommodate this need. It was a great decision and one of the features that our clients rely on the most.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: The competition – big vendors with deep pockets who have the lion’s share of the market in Canada. Many physicians and friends have called us crazy for going up against these giants and to be honest, it is more than a little nerve-wracking. However, we believe in our vision – that enough physicians, like ourselves, are frustrated with these vendor’s solutions and are open to a better way. Physicians are inherently distrustful of the gradual corporatization of healthcare and one of Arya’s advantages is that it truly remains a movement by physicians, for physicians.
Another advantage of being a smaller company is that the founders can remain well connected to our user base and move quickly when there are ideas and opportunities to improve our platform. We can react quickly and have a nimble platform that allows us to make improvements and add features quickly. Knowing this helps me sleep through the night.
Q: What would you tell your past self if you were starting out today?
A: Have faith and enjoy the journey! As a startup in an industry dominated by giants, we had trepidation and anxiety about whether we could even make a ding in the EHR space, let alone a dent. But we are experienced professionals, with firsthand experience and a detailed understanding of how EHRs should work. We just needed “builders”. I would tell my past self to
have faith, keep the faith and to not be as anxious as I was. I would also tell myself to try to enjoy the journey. What I have found is that solving the problem, and navigating the barriers has been the most exciting and rewarding part of starting Arya. If everything was easy, it would not have been such a rewarding experience. Struggling through with my co-founders and team
taught me perseverance, determination, and patience – virtues that are essential to any successful entrepreneur. As I look back on where we have come from and where we are today, I would tell myself to step back and take it all in. Enjoy the little “dings” we have made along the way as they will add up to a big dent in the end!
Q: What’s the best advice you recently received?
A: “Nothing good is easy”. My other co-founders tell me this regularly, and I often repeat it back to them. With a start up it always feels like you take two steps forward, and one step back (and sometimes 5 steps back!). This challenge is what makes the process both frustrating and exciting. It’s easy to get lost in the grind. What helps is to take a 30,000 foot view of where you are and where you have come from, and most importantly, where you need to get to. Despite all the setbacks this periodic retrospective reminds you of how far you’ve actually come.
Just like my comments above, my past self needed to know that the journey is what makes the difference. It’s those individuals who hold on, who persevere, who don’t let the setbacks keep them down that end up reaching their goals.
Q: Who are your heroes in real life?
A: I work in the medical industry and am surrounded by real life heros every day. People like paramedics who put their lives on the line, or physicians who prioritize their patients’ well-being over their own. The healthcare industry is one where you need these ‘everyday heroes’ to lift you up, help you through or to just give you a smile or a hug. The camaraderie that exists in our industry is infectious and even though our technology can be slow to change or our equipment not state of the art, our people are the best of the best. They get up when they are beaten down, they show up when they are needed, they care when they don’t receive any care back and they do it all with passion, conviction and empathy. There is no other industry that I know of like the healthcare industry, and for that reason, the people of it are my heroes. I am fortunate enough to work with them and I look up to them everyday.
Want to be featured as a Startup of the Week? If you are, or would like to suggest, a BC-based tech startup that we should know about, reach out.