“Time is brain.”
The adage is more than a core value written on Viz.ai’s conference room wall — it’s a philosophy taken to heart by employees in every role.
When a patient has a stroke, they lose about two million neurons every minute — that’s three weeks of cognitive aging. If a surgical procedure takes hours, a person with a 40-year-old’s brain might leave the hospital with that of a 65-year-old.
“Think about what that does to a family, a young mom or dad, a grandparent or a teacher,” said Stephanie Vasquez-Mostofi, the company’s senior product marketing manager. “You’re talking about life-long disability here.”
Employees see the real-world effects of their work on a daily basis. “One of the most impactful pieces of data that we’ve seen is that the modified Rankin Scale (mRS) for patients — which is a measurement of cognitive ability — dropped from a score or level of five to a two or three,” Vasquez-Mostofi added.
It’s the difference between a person feeding themselves and needing to be fed, being bedridden indefinitely and walking out of the hospital with minimal health issues.
As a result of such health-sensitive work, the team at Viz has developed a culture of careful and swift coordination, adopting time savings as a valuable resource and driving force for both patient health and measured impact. And stories of success — internally referred to as “Vizstories” — often stick with the staff, such as Senior Manager, Project Management Nicole Allegre. “One of them was during a customer implementation where a patient was able to get their intervention 22 minutes sooner by using Viz,” she said. “That’s a measurable impact on a patient’s life.”
Viz, which specializes in medical imaging technology, is now in over 1,200 hospitals, and has diversified their products across other disease populations, including AI detection for pulmonary embolism and aortic emergencies. Many tech companies tout making a difference as an abstract ideal. But for team members at Viz, it’s a quantifiable matter of life and death — literally every second counts.
Viz.ai’s Unique Core Values
- Patients First
- I Am Accountable
- Time is Brain
- Quality Squared
- Kindness Wins
Making a Difference for the Workforce
For a growing company pushing more products into expanding markets, maintaining organic culture and an engaged staff can be a challenge. Fortunately, Viz’s mission statement is laudable and its ambitions lofty, which make for an appealing workplace. Viz.ai’s mission is to increase access to life saving treatments.
“When I interviewed in San Francisco, I remember I was in the conference room, and the values were on the wall,” said Allegre. “When I read them almost three years ago, I thought, ‘that’s me.’” Whether it’s performance reviews or hiring interviews, Viz’s core values are the cornerstone around which the team rallies its members while growing its ranks.
This carryover of principles is especially important for her team’s work in project management, where even the smallest projects reflect the organization as a whole. “Those values are referenced frequently by all, so I feel like that helps bring people together, especially while working remotely,” she said.
The goal of saving lives and eliminating disability by shaving seconds off the clock goes hand in hand with work fulfillment, as many of the employees not only had healthcare backgrounds before joining Viz, but were former clients as well, including Chief Clinical Officer Jayme Strauss.
“Many people have followed me to Viz,” Strauss said with a laugh. “People align very quickly with what we’re doing and understand that we are a unicorn, and there is magic here. They want to be a part of it, they want to have a bigger impact than what they’re able to do with their current health systems.”
There are growing pains in the transition from bureaucratic healthcare companies to the freedoms of a medical software company. “But, for the people who love that embrace it, they understand that they’re able to do that on a much broader scale here,” she said.
Viz.ai’s Life-Changing Products
- Cryptogenic Stroke
- CT Perfusion
- Pulmonary Embolism
Vasquez-Mostofi, who knows firsthand the importance of lowering the barrier for healthcare, would agree. As a child of Spanish-speaking immigrants, she was the family translator for her grandparents’ doctor’s appointments from a young age, which kickstarted her interest in healthcare delivery.
“For a lot of healthcare companies, success is traditionally measured on revenue or market share,” she said of her past work experience. “But with Viz, we measure how many patient lives we’ve impacted. When I first joined, we touched a patient life every three minutes. Now, we touch a patient life every 30 seconds. It feels really good to know that I played a part in that.”
Making a Difference for Clients
During a 15-minute go-live call Allegre had with a spoke site, they just happened to get a patient that was being evaluated for stroke. Before the images were fully processed, the physician at the hub facility — where the decisions are made on whether patients need intervention — was able to use Viz to view the patient’s images and communicate to the clinical team she was working with that there was no need for the patient to be transferred.
“The clinical team didn’t have to stop to do anything,” Allegre said. “That stuck with me, because I felt like I was part of the clinical decision-making even though I clearly wasn’t.”
Allegre went to school for medical imaging and held roles in radiology IT, but she sought to get out of the provider side of the industry. What makes this job standout is patient impact feedback she has received from Viz’s clients.
There’s a validation to the ripple effect that Viz employees get to create: from patient to family to the community that they serve. In turn, the potential for saving more lives and improving patient care powers the team’s motivation to do better work. As a product marketing manager, Vasquez-Mostofi gets to interface with direct client feedback, and hears stories that bolster her drive to do more.
In one instance, a physician from New York told her of his interest in Viz AORTIC, citing a patient from Brooklyn that died in the ambulance on the way to Manhattan because he was transferred too late. She remembered his words clearly: “If I’d had this technology in my hand, maybe I could have saved that guy’s life.”
That sentiment of democratizing life-saving care guides company morale. “There’s hardly a situation where I feel like I’m on an island. It’s usually all of us in a boat rowing really hard in order to get this done,” she said. “And the North Star that we’re rowing towards is making a meaningful difference in that patient’s outcome and that family’s life.”
From a client’s perspective, the work produced by the team improves quality of life, too — which translates to better patient care. This is especially important with the pandemic-induced burnout now rampant throughout hospitals. “It’s amazing to hear from our clinicians that say they can now be at their kid’s soccer game and not have to worry about having to be near a computer and a hotspot, or that they don’t have to leave the dinner table to go take a call because they can just look at their phone,” explained Strauss.
“If I’d had this technology in my hand, maybe I could have saved that guy’s life.”
The team is hardly a monolith, despite the company’s major role in the healthcare to healthtech industry pipeline. After all, Viz’s core products are still tech-oriented. But the moral compass that paves common ground for hundreds of employees was best exemplified during one memorable all-hands, according to Strauss.
“We had a guest speaker who was presenting our case studies,” the chief clinical officer recalled passionately. “Everybody in the chat, from engineers to finance, thought it was amazing. This is why we do what we do.”
Viz’s app has a very unique alert sound, to the point where families of physicians recognize the jingle and will often know that they might have to go. Having this life-changing tool anchor the work lives of healthcare professionals is ultimately the goal for Strauss and her ambitious crew.
When “time is brain” and every second counts, it’s a matter of getting the right technology into as many relevant hands as possible. “Here, you’re able to truly help evolve how healthcare is delivered,” said Strauss. “That is really the driver and how we’re making a difference.”