Dr. Raz Winiarsky (CAS '90) is the cofounder and chief medical officer of Spreemo, a value-driven digital health platform. Spreemo’s mission is to invest in collaborative technology and the science of medicine in order to find ways to get patients better, faster.
As an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Winiarsky observed that central to the healthcare system’s problems was a lack of consensus about value. Providers, payers, and patients did not share transparency around what constituted quality and why it matters. He realized as a result, when patients choose a healthcare provider they tend to rely on subjective criteria such as how quickly they are able to get an appointment and referrals from friends, rather than make a value-based selection based on which providers delivered the highest quality results. The healthcare system, in his own words, “is a fragmented process at best” and Dr. Winiarsky saw an opportunity to systemically give patients a higher level of care.
Along with Spreemo cofounder and CEO Ron Vianu, Dr. Winiarsky set out to answer 3 big questions: 1, Can our company transform the healthcare system, focusing on one specialty at a time? 2, Can we grade a provider on objective quality metrics that are meaningful, and 3, Can we develop a currency of quality, a grading methodology that all parties can support? With these questions in mind, they built Spreemo to provide transparency of quality and cost in medicine, initially focusing on helping injured workers connect with the best quality radiology services.
This is a day in the life of Dr. Raz Winiarsky:
6am-8am- I rise early in the morning to review ideas that occurred to me over the night and check emails. Depending on whether or not it’s a surgical day, I either see patients at my medical practice; perform surgeries at Interfaith Medical Center (where I recently became Chairman of Orthopedics); or head to Spreemo.
9am-1pm - On days when I am seeing patients, I arrive at my practice in Brooklyn, which serves over 3000 patients in the borough. Whether there or at Interfaith Medical Center, I take pleasure in serving the community where I grew up.
While my activities at Spreemo keep me busy, spending time with patients continues to give me great satisfaction. The roles are mutually-reinforcing, and I benefit from the differing perspectives. I am confident that my work with Spreemo enables me to be a better doctor by giving me broader understanding of the complexities of our changing medical system. Similarly, patient interactions inform what we do at Spreemo by keeping their concerns top of mind.
1pm-3pm- The hectic work day doesn’t permit for a relaxed meal, so I often skip lunch and the day progresses with seeing patients or performing surgeries. In between, I check in with Spreemo CEO Ron Vianu. The company is going through a phase of rapid development, and all hands are needed on deck.
3pm-5pm- At this time, I wrap up my work at the practice. Before leaving, I check in to make sure everything is running smoothly there and the other doctors are ready to fill in for me.
5pm-9pm- I head to Spreemo, where I spend the next several hours. Running a start-up means wearing many different hats, and on any given day I may meet with recruiters, present at board meetings to our private equity investors, educate our sales force on Spreemo’s value proposition, and strategize with Ron on current and future Spreemo initiatives.
The bottom line is that there is very little that I do not touch or interface with at Spreemo, which makes it so exciting for me.
9pm-11pm- Balance between my venture, medical practice, family and health is essential. At this point, I head home and enjoy dinner with my wife and three children, ages 12, 9 and 6. After this, I usually fit in an hour of tennis, which allows me to blow off excess energy and ultimately helps me go to bed. I have found a coach who is willing to work around my late hours four days a week.
My weekends are also sacred territory for family life.
11pm-12:00am- At this time of the night, I am usually wrap up any remaining emails, and put down thoughts that occurred to me during the day that I didn’t have an opportunity to document.
Advice for aspiring Entrepreneurs
A support network is vital; being surrounded by friends, family and colleagues that support your mission is important. The hectic and unpredictable schedule can be taxing for those around you so having their support is critical. My wife is an oncologist at Sloan Kettering and she often says to me “I am letting you live the dream” and indeed she is.
Finding partners that you actually enjoy working with and who share your vision is critical. At the same time, surround yourself with people who challenge your ideas, and have skills that are complimentary to your own.
In the end, a great idea without excellent execution remains an unfulfilled dream. If you are passionate, don’t let anyone discourage you. Stay focused, and learn from your mistakes. My partner often tells me that rejections and mistakes are our greatest lessons and learning from them is critical for paving the roadmap ahead of you; that has been very true.
I came to this country at the age of 10. My dad was a cab driver and my mom sold coats at a flea market. They always believed in the American dream and that there are no boundaries to what you can achieve and I believe this to be correct.