Portfolio Profile: PatientsVoices

Apr 17, 2019

This week on Portfolio Profiles is PatientsVoices (JSF ‘18) with Mary Kay O’Connor, CEO.

Health system margins have declined by 39% in the last 3 years due to changes in reimbursements.  Providers are competing for patients at a time when patients are becoming consumers and making their own health care decisions.  Health systems are looking for ways to turn the patient feedback they already collect into action. PatientsVoices solves this problem.

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Mary Kay is helping healthcare executives answer tough questions like, “Why is the hospital’s overall rating not improving?”, “What departments are ‘hot spots’?”, “What do patients say is the problem?”.  PatientsVoices utilizes deep learning models and proprietary algorithms that convert patient feedback into valuable analytics and actionable insight.

Q: Tell us about yourself

A: My background is in the corporate world of sales and marketing primarily consumer products for 20+ years. I quickly learned that happy customers spend more $$ so I began to focus on how to improve customer satisfaction.   During that period we perfected the art of using in-depth interviews to collect market intelligence from decision makers. My first startup was a consulting practice that targeted large consumer product companies.  The company developed a framework for converting qualitative feedback into analytics. This idea became the basis for the company’s current technology.

In 2012 after seeing the low patient satisfaction scores (HCAHPS) in health care, I enrolled in an accelerator and started testing different approaches for improving patient experiences.  With funding and two talented partners, PatientsVoices emerged.

Q: Talk about your management team

A: Philip Duncan, Ph.D., the company’s Chief Data Scientist, Joseph St. Amand, Ph.D., Chief Technology Officer and I have been working together since 2015. The partnership works given our complementary skill sets –Philip’s expertise in language, Joseph’s creativity in designing ML models and my experience in translating customer needs into market  innovations. Company success is enabled by a team of analysts, support personnel and a committed board.


Philip Duncan, Ph.D.:  Chief Data Scientist

Has worked with PatientsVoices since 2015. Recently completed his doctorate in Linguistics.  Expertise includes annotation methodology for machine learning, data analytics, analysis and reporting of client results.

Joseph St. Amand, Ph.D, Chief Technology Officer

Has worked with PatientVoices since 2015. Completed his doctorate in Machine Learning. His expertise includes AI, model development, cloud architecture, simulations, etc.


Q: What has been a recent ‘win’ for PatientsVoices?

A: Jumpstart Foundry (JSF) immediately introduced PatientsVoices to stakeholders and decision makers who were interested in the company’s technology. Thanks to Jumpstart, PatientsVoices recently completed a pilot with one of the nation’s top 20 health systems. JSF’s sweet spot is innovative/early stage healthcare technology companies that solve the problems limiting the success of today’s health systems. Another recent win by PatientsVoices is the receipt of a third round of funding from the National Science Foundation to support continued development of the company’s technology.

Q: What does PatientsVoices look forward to in the future?

A: The company plans to continue adding targeted health systems at a measured pace, letting the requirements of our clients drive the technology that we build.

Q: What is your advice to early-stage healthcare entrepreneurs?

A: Be persistent,  listen to your customers and recognize that it ‘takes a village’ to build a successful startup.

Q: Current favorite resource?

A: I’ve recently been listening to Atul Gawande, the CEO of Haven — the venture formed by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway And JPMorgan. How he thinks about healthcare and the way to improve the system is thought provoking. I highly suggest it. (Link to episode)

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