The Future Is Now: Christopher Malter of Avalon.ai On How Their Technological Innovation Address The Opioid Crisis
Listening is crucial: Think about the typical conversation — when one is speaking, the other may not be fully listening or paying attention as the receiver is often preparing his/her response. 90% of people are like this. I would recommend people try to listen to the person speaking, and if you have a thought while that person is speaking, retain it. We need to be more open to each other’s thoughts and perspectives, so that way we can all become better informed.
As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs I had the pleasure of interviewing Christopher Malter, CEO at Avalon.ai
Christopher Malter is CEO of Global Accelerated Ventures, a leading global innovation aggregator in Fintech and HealthTech.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
As a person of faith and the youngest of seven children, it was always important to me to consider the impact I made on the world. I was always interested in how businesses could foster their own social purpose and give back to others — focus on the impact you make to leave the world a better place. This led me to working in healthcare and finding ways to fix a system that had been broken for decades.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
The delivery of healthcare is operated by those who provide care and those who do not touch the patient. I was always in the latter category. Early on in my career, I was involved in bringing ethical compounds to market. These were billion-dollar drugs for diabetes, oncology, etc. I never saw the patient and the effects. It was in bringing Zoladex to market that I saw patients with prostate cancer. I was making decisions from a corporate perspective and not from a patient perspective. Far too many senior executives at hospitals, insurance, pharmaceutical, etc., are too removed from the end-user. My experience changed my thinking for the rest of my life. It made me realize that although we live in the greatest country in the world, the delivery of healthcare needs a lot of work. It is fragmented and cost, access, and mortality rates need to be addressed.
Can you tell us about the current technology you are working on? How do you think that will help people?
Healthcare is a lonely road. Most of the time, patients lack access and understanding to basic elements of healthcare. Additionally, living at lower socioeconomic levels predisposes many to certain inequalities and unfortunately, lower social determinants of health which greatly impact their baseline of care and overall future health. While opioid abuse doesn’t discriminate against socioeconomic status, understanding how to eliminate these issues, before it becomes a larger-scale problem will help to curtail abuse, address how people can become more informed, and eventually, upend healthcare systems at-large.
How do you think this might change the world?
It takes three days to develop an addiction to opioids — we need to address the issue before it starts. The epidemic is pervasive, but there is hope. As someone who has worked within the healthcare system we need to find actionable solutions to how opioid use and abuse is navigated.
Can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?
The global pandemic has changed everything. It’s just that most people — especially in this country — have not figured it out yet. When a crisis hits, change is inevitable. Public safety and the choice between life and death versus antiquated rules and processes in the delivery healthcare is drastically changing. When it comes down to deciding to use AI or other kinds of technology to ensure safety and health, it’s a risk that we need to take to prevent losing lives.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?
A friend’s son had died from opioid addiction. I was tired of hearing stories like this, and I knew I could make a difference. I thought about how this country rallied around the AIDS epidemic and solved prevalent public health issues; going beyond stigmas and ignorance by rolling up our sleeves and addressing problems head on. I feel with Avalon.Ai, we are doing this too. We will redefine opioid prescribing patterns based on outcomes. We will be able to effectively demonstrate that lower dosage of opioids or no opioids at all during hundreds of surgeries are just as effective as using opioids. And we’ll be able to do it quickly.
What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?
Technology roll-out in hospitals will take some time, since there are layers of administration that can stifle and event prevent innovation. Patients deserve better, and we need leaders who are open to embracing technology to follow the patient journey.
Currently, we can trace a pill that is manufactured in this country all the way to the pharmacy. But, we cannot follow up it once it is dispensed. Why is that? Because we are afraid of embracing the patient journey. This starts with understanding how to properly address patients’ needs early on and ensure proper follow through with care, which will significantly impact our healthcare system and delivery of services.
What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?
It’s been helpful for us to understand the current landscape by speaking to patients, doctors, administrators, and others in the space to address current needs. Because healthcare can be so isolating, it means that we need to communicate and collaborate more to understand how we can be helpful to others potentially going through similar circumstances.
Aside from our efforts on social media platforms, we’ve been driving much-needed thought leadership in these areas to speak to the current difficulties patients face, and will continue to face if not properly diagnosed or addressed. This is a long journey for many, and we want to bring a voice to those who haven’t benefited from the current system.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
As a person of faith, it has always been Jesus Christ. He has guided me through my life to do the right thing and achieve my career goals.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I just think it’s all about small steps — how small steps make a big impact to others in the world. Do the best you can with honesty and integrity, and trust and treat people with respect one person at a time.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Help create the infrastructure: I learned early on that the rules, processes, and structure are built by people like me. Once I realized this, expectations and judgments were mine. This understanding afforded me to develop the confidence and free thinking to create and build.
- Don’t isolate yourself: I also learned early on that you cannot go through life alone, which is especially challenging for younger professionals embarking on their career. Surround yourself with really solid and smart people, and they will help you achieve your goals.
- Listening is crucial: Think about the typical conversation — when one is speaking, the other may not be fully listening or paying attention as the receiver is often preparing his/her response. 90% of people are like this. I would recommend people try to listen to the person speaking, and if you have a thought while that person is speaking, retain it. We need to be more open to each other’s thoughts and perspectives, so that way we can all become better informed.
- Hone your voice: Writing is a critical skill that often goes overlooked in the age of technology. I actually majored in journalism and marketing. I loved to write. I believe that I’m a far better writer than a speaker. In this day of emojis and acronyms writing falls very short, and is a lost art. Especially as you grow in your career, developing a strong perspective and point of view in your field is critical to success, and you shouldn’t lose it.
- Do the right thing: I know this sounds cliché, but sometimes you want to skip steps or fast forward. I get that; it’s hard. But always try to do the right thing. It’s usually more difficult, but truly works out in the end.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Find a way to merge your passion and career. The way that I felt about upending the healthcare system led me to Avalon.ai, and we are changing healthcare outcomes. We can generate better outcomes through our technology, and are reducing the opioid epidemic by redefining the prescribing habits for surgeries — pre-op, post-op, and release.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote?” Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Isaiah 6:8 — Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” This has led me to where I am today. I believe that this has been a guiding force in my passion for addressing healthcare outcomes head-on, ensuring that health systems become more accessible, equitable, and streamlined for patients in the future.
Some very well-known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say?
A lot of VCs are numbers guys. I would say metrics are important, but also it’s critical to look at the big picture to see how startups are changing industries. If you look at the evolution of healthcare and AI, most AI companies aggregate data through unreliable sources and generate theoretical predictive analytics. We are already on the next phase — we aggregate data at hospitals real-time. In this case, we are changing prescribing standards for opioids with specific procedures, which hasn’t been done before.
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