Proventys stars University chancellor in birth of a salesman

Dr. Snyderman is confident that insurers will gladly pay for a service that gives them greater confidence in a positive result at the lowest possible cost.

Former Duke Chancellor Dr. Ralph Snyderman has retired from a life of administration and achievement to become a salesman.

He is selling his own start-up, called Proventys, and called while catching a plane to give me his pitch. He sold investors on a tranche of venture investment during December, so he's off to a good start.

The long-term goal is to give physicians the best choices at the point of care. The near-term goal is to offer this for cancer patients.

The main way Proventys does this is by building virtual decision trees from clinical trial data, then selling the results to insurance carriers and self-insurance pools for use at cancer centers.

"Collect patients' data as they undergo chemotherapy, before and after, and  mine that data to see what were the most important predictive factors" for success, "that's the way to do it" he said.

Dr. Snyderman is confident that insurers will gladly pay for a service that gives them greater confidence in a positive result at the lowest possible cost. 

"What we need to look for, given the way the reimbursement system works, are people who have incentives to gain on the bottom line with this, who will share savings with the developer," he explained.

"Our intention is to start creating proof of concept and revenues by the end of 2009. I believe we can get to profitability by 2011."

I suggested to Dr. Snyderman that he really must thread a needle here. The system needs FDA approval and health reform may completely transform the model.

"We anticipate and are eager to participate in this wave of health care reform," he replied. "They all talk about making medicine more personalized and patient centered. We think we're going to be able to ride the wave."

Willy Loman couldn't have done it better. But Dr. Snyderman is just getting started.

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