Interview – TheVisualMD.com founder Alexander Tsiaras

I had the opportunity to meet up with thevisualmd.com founder Alexander Tsiaras on May 7, 2009. We had a fascinating conversation about healthcare and the work that Alex’s company is undertaking. Here is a video excerpt from part of our conversation:

Here are some of the key insights that bubble up from our conversation:

The Internet is an interactive medium, and if you want to be successful you have to learn to tell a story. Storytelling has a huge impact in fundraising, the outcome of politics, the behavior of consumers, etc.

Yet, most of the content on the Internet remains about gossip and commerce (even today). There is still a shortage of quality, deep content.

With thevisualmd.com, Alex and team are trying to tell interactive stories. If thevisualmd.com were a print publication, they would aspire to be LIFE magazine – beautiful pictures with good captions that together tell a story for those who want to browse, but with deeper content for those who want to explore the topic further.

Thevisualmd.com is of course an Internet site, and it has beautiful visuals that allow people to go through the story linearly or explore non-linearly. Alex is always trying with his team to think about the best way to use digital technology to have an impact on the people who consume the content.

For most companies, when it comes to utilizing digital technology, they tend to create cool graphics instead of using the technology to tell an impactful story. Many traditional companies are still intimidated by digital technology and provide tactical, unimaginative, and restrictive briefs as a result. The end result? Companies often blame their agencies for the lackluster outcomes from their digital presences.

In healthcare, one of the greatest tests is to achieve improvements in wellness. The biggest problem that wellness programs face is compliance. Patient compliance is dependent on three key things that most patients can’t visualize or easily understand:

  • Causes
  • Consequences
  • Solutions

Another challenge the healthcare industry faces is the defensive, cautious mindset of most healthcare organizations (especially big pharma). You could see this difference if you were to attend the TED conference and observe the level of collaboration and sharing of information that occurs there, and then attend the TED Med conference and observe the quiet distance between attendees.

Realizing the full promise of electronic medical records and potential behavioral changes from integrated wellness programs will require overcoming this combination of healthcare organizations’ mindset and the patients’ inability to visualize.

That is why we need to create solutions that provide a constantly updated wellness and treatment profile so that patients are more aware of the causes and consequences and can make changes in their behavior to improve their wellness.

Sensors built into mobile phones that can contribute real time data and the broad adoption of electronic medical records will provide the necessary data foundation, but there will still be a need for someone to provide the stories and visuals that link the causes, consequences, and solutions that will ultimately result in the necessary behavioral changes.

TheVisualMD tells great visual stories and feels it has an important role to play in our more-connected medical future.

What do you think?

Braden Kelley (@innovate on Twitter)

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