Toronto-based healthtech startup Medchart has hired Kevin Callahan as VP of product design and research, as the company looks to ramp up its product innovation efforts.
Callahan, who joined Medchart in July, previously served in a variety of different roles at Coinbase, Twitter, and Wattpad. At Medchart, in the newly created role, he is supporting Medchart’s product development plans, as the company looks to expand the reach of its health data-sharing and analysis platform.
“Being able to essentially impact lives, save lives, build a business that helps entrepreneurs build their business, it’s just super exciting,” said Kevin Callahan.
“When you look at [Medchart’s] mission, when we think about being able to essentially impact lives, save lives, build a business that helps entrepreneurs build their business, it’s just super exciting,” Callahan told BetaKit.
Medchart’s current focus is on generalizing its API platform for mass use by businesses. Getting there will involve substantially growing its 15-person product engineering, design, and research team, which Medchart plans to quadruple over the next year with the help of Callahan.
The startup was co-founded in 2015 by CEO James Bateman and COO Derrick Chow. Medchart offers a cloud-based health data platform that enables patients to quickly and securely share their health records with North American businesses, including healthcare providers, lawyers, insurers, and more. Medchart currently has 135 employees across its offices in Toronto, Waterloo, and Texas, and does about 80 percent of its business in the United States (US).
The startup aims to facilitate the exchange of patient-authorized health information for businesses through its software, which aggregates and analyzes health data with the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).
“We’re talking about simplifying the complexities around consent, and the regulatory and privacy and security challenges that those apps and patient services are facing when they try to connect into health data,” Bateman told BetaKit.
Bateman and Chow launched Medchart after they both faced personal challenges accessing and sharing health records for relatives and loved ones during healthcare crises.
For Callahan, the company’s mission is also personal. A few years ago, Callahan’s father had a heart attack and was pronounced dead for a moment, after a number of different doctors prescribed him a variety of different medications.
“He had got to the hospital with five minutes left, I have a picture of him in the hospital, and I’ve always thought that there was some sort of database or an algorithm where somebody gave a shit,” said Callahan. “But the honest truth is that they don’t, and you have to be a bit of an advocate.”
Thankfully, Callahan’s father is healthy now, but Callahan added that, given this experience, “when I heard what James and Derrick and Medchart were trying to do, I was like, how do I help?”
Callahan, who is a Ryerson University and Western University graduate, joins Medchart from Coinbase, where he served as head of growth and ecosystem partnerships from 2020 to 2021. Previously, he spent five years at Twitter, working in head of product growth operations and head of business development roles, and two years as a product manager for Wattpad.
Before joining Wattpad, Callahan served as a product manager for Bell Media, where he focused on the company’s mobile, social, and emerging platforms, working on the TSN, CTV News, and BNN mobile apps, among others.
At Medchart, Callahan plans to deliver an “empowered team model” approach to product management, which he described as less top down than traditional methods, and Bateman expressed excitement about.
“The idea is that, [Medchart is] simplifying a complex problem, so that any company, any developer, any entrepreneur can extract that [health] data for APIs and then build awesome products,” said Callahan.
Over the past year, Medchart experienced significant growth, quintupling the size of its customer base.
Medchart currently powers a number of different apps and services in the legal and insurance markets, and the startup is also starting to see some traction in fitness devices, virtual health, and medication management.
During the last year, Medchart’s data connected sources grew by 300 percent, API calls to Mechart’s platform increased by 183 percent, and the startup quintupled the size of its customer base.
“We’re just seeing some amazing trajectory there, and the fact that there’s a huge need for a data platform like this,” said Bateman, who added that, today, Medchart is connected to over 65,000 health organizations across North America, which collectively cover more than 120 million patients.
Callahan’s hire came a few months after Medchart announced it had secured $21.5 million CAD ($17 million USD) in previously undisclosed funding led by Crosslink Capital and Golden Ventures, and supported by Vast Ventures, Union Ventures, iGan Partners, Stanford Law School, and Nas.
This funding consisted of a $6.3 million CAD seed round Medchart closed in late 2017, and all-primary $15.2 million CAD Series A financing that closed in December, which involved $3.8 million CAD in debt from Silicon Valley Bank.
“The main reason we went after Series A, and raised this amount of money, was to invest in product,” said Bateman. “Up to this point, and what really laid the foundation of success that enabled us to raise that … was based on us using our APIs and our platform to power a specific application for a specific use-case, and a market that we saw an opportunity there.”
In short, Medchart built a first-party app “as an example and a showcase of what could be done with these APIs more broadly.” Now, Bateman said, “the investment of these funds is to generalize that API platform to the masses,” a strategy Medchart aims to support with the addition of Callahan, and the expansion of its product, engineering, and research team.
“In my mind, what success looks like, is instead of just powering one app that we’ve built, if we’re able to power hundreds or thousands, or hundreds of thousands of apps, and enable innovation in these markets in new and exciting ways,” said Bateman.
UPDATE (09/20/21): Following the publication of this story, BetaKit received a tip claiming Medchart had recently laid off a number of employees. BetaKit has since confirmed that on Monday, September 13, Medchart permanently laid off 19 employees on its client services and operations teams. These employees, who represented approximately 12 percent of Medchart’s overall staff, were responsible for manual records retrieval and verification.
A spokesperson for Medchart told BetaKit the company made these layoffs because of the decreasing need for manual health data retrieval amid an increase in automation, adding that, following ongoing investment in software and integrations as well as new legislation mandating electronic sharing, today’s market is “more software-driven than services-driven.”
Prior to these layoffs, Medchart had 121 services and 33 non-services employees, including engineering, product, design, sales, and general and administrative roles. Following these layoffs, the company currently has 102 services and 33 non-services employees.
Feature image of Kevin Callahan, courtesy of Medchart