Why Dr Rhea Mehta Built The Encrypted Wellness Platform Bowhead Health

20 Minute Fitness Episode #74

This week on the 20 Minute Fitness podcast we’ve got Dr Rhea Mehta on the show. She’s an entrepreneur with a medical background who’s gone through a very diverse journey before arriving at her latest project that aims to revolutionize the healthcare industry.

Rhea has a PhD in Molecular Toxicology, is a certified health coach, the founder of Global Smoothie Day and in her free time creates Scientific Wellness content. Besides all of these, today Rhea is also the Co-Founder & CEO of Bowhead Health, a healthcare and blockchain technology company making personalized health solutions more accessible.

Listen to this week’s episode to hear all about how Rhea’s fighting for empowering patients to manage their own health and data using Blockchain technology!

Three Things You Will Learn

1) The Main Focus Of Bowhead Health Today

Rhea and her team have very ambitious goals in mind. Eventually they are planning to revolutionize the personal health & wellness industry at many fronts. But for now, they are taking one step at a time. 

Currently Bowhead Health acts as a platform through which you can fill out health & medical surveys, track your daily healthy habits and order clinical lab tests. All your personal data is then stored in one secure place that is the Bowhead Health platform. 

So why is it more secure than other platforms that are linked to specific medical companies? Because Bowhead Health uses Blockchain technology to protect your data. All information that is uploaded to the Bowhead Health platform is owned and managed by you and no one else. 

Tune in to learn more about why data protection is such a pressing issue in the medical industry nowadays! And to get a better idea of how Blockchain works in a healthcare setting! 

2) The Anonymous Healthcare Tokens

Cryptocurrencies have been all over the place lately. But one place where we probably wouldn’t have expected to see a digital currency is the health & wellness industry. Until the born of Bowhead Health of course. 

Another very interesting innovation that Rhea and her team have launched in their ecosystem is the ‘Anonymous Health Token’. With the use of this cryptocurrency, they are introducing a reward system where users get rewarded for building out their own health records. 

Press play to hear more about the first cryptocurrency in healthcare and how you will be able to benefit from it in the future!

3) The Future Of Healthcare In An Ideal World

The big vision for the Bowhead Health team is more than just a Blockchain-powered platform. It’s really to have a globally integrated and secure healthcare system where patients are in charge of their own personal data. 

Rhea imagines a future where everyone has a digital self with all their health, wellness and fitness information. This information is only accessible and manageable by the user, who can share it with all kinds of medical professionals via the platform. 

Listen to this week’s episode to learn more about Rhea’s vision for Bowhead Health and the future of healthcare! 


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Full Transcript

00:04 Speaker 1: Hey, and welcome back to Why I Built This on the 20-Minute Fitness Podcast. I’m your host, Martin Kessler and on every episode I bring to you an inventor behind an exciting startup that is really trying to make a difference in the health and our fitness industry. So today we’ve got Dr. Rhea Mehta on the show. She’s an entrepreneur with a medical background, and she’s really gone through a very diverse journey, and she finally arrived at her latest project aiming to revolutionize the healthcare industry. And Rhea has a PhD in molecular toxicology. She’s a certified health coach and also the founder of Global Smoothie Day, and in her free time she creates scientific wellness content. Besides all of these different things, today Rhea is also the co-founder and CEO of Bowhead Health, a Healthcare and Blockchain. That’s right, Blockchain Technology Company making personalized health solutions more accessible.

00:51 S1: So tune in today to hear all about Rhea’s fighting for empowering patients to manage and really have access to their own healthcare data and using the Blockchain to secure it and keep them private. But before we move on, I’d like to thank our sponsor, Shape. As you may know, Team Shape’s been working on the 3D body scanner, ShapeScale, and we’re currently looking for new engineers in both hardware and software. And if you’re interested, or maybe you know somebody, you can head to our careers page at ShapeScale.com/careers. And another quick one, if you guys like this podcast and you enjoy tuning in and you like to listen to me and/or Charlie, please give us a five-star rating on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app. It only really takes five seconds for you, but it could really go a long way to help others discover this wonderful podcast.




01:37 S1: Hey, everyone. I’m here in San Francisco, and today I have a very interesting guest, Dr. Rhea Mehta, from Bowhead Health. Rhea, why don’t you introduce yourself a little.

01:46 Speaker 2: Sure, thank you so much. So once again, my name is Rhea Mehta, I’m the CEO and co-founder of Bowhead Health. We’re an encrypted health wallet and personalized health platform. I also have an academic background. I did my PhD in Molecular Toxicology Nutritional Biochemistry from the University of Toronto. I’m also a certified integrated health coach, and I’ve worked in many different areas but all at the intersection of wellness, science and, now, technology.

02:15 S1: Right. You are also based in Toronto, in Canada then? 

02:18 S2: Yeah, so our company is based in Ontario, so primarily in Toronto, we have an office there and we also have an office in Mexico where our developers and engineers are based.

02:26 S1: Gotcha, so can you give us like a bit more of an in-depth explanation of what Bowhead Heath actually is.

02:31 S2: Sure, so healthcare today very much focuses on a one-size-fits-all approach, and those who kind of fit within that approach get a lot from it, the kinda traditional medical approach, but then there’s a whole number of other individuals who don’t really fit in this approach, and who need a little bit more of a personalized experience. And so that’s kind of where we fit in. And we started up our journey focusing on personalized health, but then as we did that, we realized that some of the other biggest issues in healthcare had to do with security and privacy of data and just the management and organization of data in general. So that’s where we decided to insert ourselves in the marketplace. And so, what we built is essentially an encrypted health lifestyle wellness wallet. It’s in the form of a mobile app. It essentially allows people like you and myself to become the owners and managers and organizers of our own health data, easily access that data from anywhere in the world through this mobile app.

03:22 S1: So what do you mean when you say health data? Are we talking something like Apple Health Data? Are we talking about healthcare records in the hospital? What do you really mean by that? 

03:31 S2: Yeah, yeah, so that’s a great question. So, Health data is… It’s a very broad… It’s incredibly broad and what we fit within there is all kinds of data. So you mentioned your electronic health records, all the data that you generate when you go to your doctors, when you work with different practitioners. But then there’s all kinds of other data that we generate through the use of mobile apps, devices, and so we have all this data floating around the Cloud, and then also protected by institutions where we can’t directly access it. So our goal is just to help people find a common place to organize all of that data. Now, going to hospitals and getting data uploaded onto our platform is not as easy as it might sound. It’s actually quite difficult. People are very happy to control our data and so that’s part of our vision.

04:13 S1: I’m sure it is. Well that’s very sensitive information, right? 

04:15 S2: It’s very sensitive information, but also people just… Institutions don’t really wanna give it up. And as we know, with the whole Cambridge Analytica case, I think that scandal brought a lot of this data privacy security stuff up in the just public conversation and attention. And so yeah, it’s still part of our vision to be able to upload that data on to our platform, but what we’re focusing on right now is actually new data. So our platform allows people to start to order clinical lab tests, track healthy habits, fill out health and medical surveys, and then store all that information in this one secure place that only the user through their private password, it’s called the cryptographic private key, they can access this. And then in a few months, we’re gonna open up our platform and we’re gonna allow other apps that will allow our users to transfer their data from Apple Health Kit and other really common wearables and devices onto the platform. So slowly users will be able to start uploading more historical data, and then eventually we’ll move to the hospitals. And that will happen as well, but as we know that takes time. So starting out, we’re giving our users access to things like genetic tests.

05:15 S1: And you partner with some companies to do that, or how do you do it? 

05:19 S2: Yeah, so we wouldn’t be where we are today without the partnerships that we have. So we have a partnership with a lab in San Diego, California, and we’re working with them to actually build a point-of-care cortisol tests, other hormone-related tests. So that’s a set of products that we’re gonna be building. That’s gonna take a lot more time because that’s the development of an actual healthcare test. While that’s happening, we’ve been working on this project with this lab for a number of months. What we’ve launched our clinical lab tests, we have partnerships with labs. The other lab that we’re working with for our genetic test is also based in California. We have another partnership with a lab in the US. And so these labs are basically working with us to prepare kits that can be ordered directly from these labs, shipped to the user, and then that user will provide their sample, shoot it back to the lab. And then all of that data raw and a comprehensive report will be available to our customers through our secure platform, and then that lab actually has to delete that data. So it’s taking some time to find the right partners because, of course, we’re kinda the first players in the space to sort of demand that these labs actually delete the data and make sure that only users have full access to this data. Not even us as the company will have access to our users data unless they decide to share it with us.

06:26 S1: Okay, hold on there, so that’s very interesting. So let’s take just a brief step back here. So where does actually Bowhead Health sit? Is it an app or is it like a website that I go to? Where do I even see my data? You mentioned there’s some crypto graphics, security around it, how does that work? Can you just walk me through the user experience? 

06:45 S2: Sure, and so when I talk about encryption and protection and security, what I’m referring to is blockchain technology. So this is very nascent technology. It’s been traditionally used to disrupt the financial system, so we’re using it in the healthcare context. And what we’re using it for is to enable users to successfully own and control their data. So right now there’s no technology that will allow or process or approach a system that allow users to directly own and manage their own data and then also be able to organize it, be able to easily access, and be able to share it with different practitioners. If you’re someone who is in Toronto and you wanna go and see a doctor in Tokyo, there’s virtually no way that you’re able to send that data unless you buy the data back office.

07:29 S1: So that’s what the grand vision that I as the customer and the user have complete control and access to all my health data from healthcare data to also my personal health data that you collect through wearables and also genetic tests. And I can move it to whoever I want, but I control who gets access to my data, right? 

07:48 S2: That’s right, so you control who gets access to your data. You can move it as you wish. And so what we’re using is this technology, and this technology what it has as a feature is kind of a reward-based system. So we have our own digital currency, it’s called the anonymous healthcare token or AHT and we’re using it as an opportunity to reward our users for building out their health records and for sharing their data, and then eventually for also selling it. Because the future of healthcare is in the personalized health phase but also if we really wanna get to a place where users are getting access to all kinds of data, we need to really empower them to start to take more of a leadership around their health and wellness. And so we’re using these tokens as a way to incentivize them to build out their record.

08:29 S1: And then how easy is it for me to do that as a user? Let’s say I go to a hospital and I get a blood test and I get the results, but I guess I can’t really demand my hospital to delete those records, but could upload them into Bowhead health in any kind of way? 

08:43 S2: That’s right. So basically if you’re a user and you wanna find us, we’re a free download them in the app store, we’re available in iOS Android. You download the app and then you right away you get moved into the gamified experience. And so UX is really on point, it’s really fun, and then you start to earn points for tracking healthy behaviors. So that’s basically the flow. You’re tracking healthy habits, you’re earning cryptos, you’re earning points, essentially.

09:07 S1: And then what can I do with that crypto? It’s your own currency, right? 

09:11 S2: Yeah, it’s our own currency. And it is tradeable, so it’s real money. It’s tradeable on exchange. You can exchange it for fiat currency, so for USD, but what we have is actually a marketplace on the mobile app that allows users to use the crypto that they’ve earned and spend it directly towards clinical lab tests, other health and wellness products, so we’re coming in with their own line of nutritional supplements. So eventually you’ll be able to spend that money directly in the app.

09:34 S1: So is that also part of the grand vision for you guys that eventually you’re gonna have some healthcare currency that I can use to pay for all my healthcare bills? 

09:43 S2: Yeah, exactly, that’s the dream. There actually aren’t too many players in this space, so that’s a good sign. I think that in the end there will be three or four players who have this primary currency that’s used by insurance companies and the medical system and different practitioners, but that will take some time. I think our grand vision is really to have a globally interoperable healthcare system, and the only way to really do that is to put people in control of their data. So our main goal right now is obviously to stay sustainable. We need to be able to make some money early on, and so we’re putting these products together. And what we’re doing is, the more complex the test that one orders, the more rewards they’ll receive. So you’re tracking your healthy habits, you’re getting some tokens but not that much, then of course you start to build out your record, make it more complex. And the more complex it is, the more you’ll earn as a reward.

10:32 S2: And then the next piece, so short-term value, is you’re receiving all these results, you’re organizing your wallet so you’re earning these rewards. You’re also receiving personalized insights, so the next step is to start bringing some coaches and practitioners onto the platform and of course having our system become more intelligent. So the more data we get, the more intelligent our platform becomes. If users decide to share their data with us, so we’re gonna request, and upon user consent we’ll be able to receive that data and then make our system more intelligent to then feed back more personalized results to the users. But then long-term value is then starting to invite different data buyers onto our platform so have them participate in our ecosystem, like Pharma for example, or clinical researchers and so that they would come out to the platform and they would then buy the data directly from the users, again, with user consent. So the user might receive a message in their inbox in the app saying, “Pharma Company X would like to buy this data from you, you marked that, you have this symptom in your health form. Would you be interested in filling out an additional questionnaire in exchange for 50-AHT?” And then you decide, you say yes, and then you share that data anonymously and then you get paid.

11:37 S1: Got it, that makes sense. And do you guys also make money through that? Do you get cuts from the money that the user also receives? 

11:43 S2: That’s right, so we’ll obviously do deals with these various partners, but all that will be very transparent to our users and that’s really important to us. So, yes, of course, if we wanna stay sustainable, we need to make some money, so we’ll take a cut from that. But what happens is the way that we’ve kind of outlined our model is that the user gets paid and then a portion of that… A percentage of that payment also gets distributed back to the entire community.

12:04 S1: Oh, so it’s a win-win for everyone. So how long have you been working now on Bowhead? 

12:07 S2: Yeah, so we… An original idea came about in late 2015. And so there’s three of us co-founders, there’s a father-son duo and myself. Father and I we worked together a couple of… Actually a few years back when I was in a tech transfer. We had a company together, and so we’ve known each other for a very long time. But I came in as a co-founder and CEO at the end of 2016. And so we had an initial plan, and I’m happy to share what that vision was, but then we actually pivoted onto the blockchain a few months later for various reasons.

12:37 S1: Yeah, so I wanna talk more about first the initial idea that you mentioned. So what was that and who had the idea and how was it different from the new concept that obviously it also involves cryptocurrency? 

12:49 S2: Yeah, so the original idea was talking about some of the bigger issues in health care around those who are trying to forge their own path and look at the alternative space and focus on integrative health. That piece is still a big question mark and very confusing for a lot of folks in this space who are really exploring alternative forms of healing. And so that’s how we started. We thought, “Let’s create this testing and dispensing solution,” kinda like a lab and a pharmacy in one so that users can easily test for imbalances and certain hormones and nutrients that are in the preventative health realm but the medical system doesn’t really qualify as real concerns. But that as we know in the functional health space and in the holistic health space, these are precursors to disease. And so we thought, why don’t we create this very easy method for users to understand what their imbalances are 10 years prior to getting chronic disease. So this idea was. “Let’s create this smart hardware device that not only tests but also dispenses.” Because what we know is people develop all kinds of results and understanding around their inabilities or their inefficiencies in their bodies, but they don’t really have a clear direction on what to do from there. And so we thought if we bring this system that encompasses everything from testing to dispensing in one into the…

13:56 S1: Hold on. So the idea was to have an all-encompassing system that tests me for imbalances and comes up with better nutrition for me, or how does that really look? 

14:07 S2: Yeah, so in preventative health space, so think about tests like your hormone tests, you have sex hormones, you have your stress hormones, melatonin, magnesium, all kinds of minerals and nutrients, vitamin D, B12. A lot of these tests are just not that accessible and are quite expensive, or they’re just not possible at all unless you’re very, very sick. And so we thought, let’s bring these tests to the user in the home setting. And then once they develop an understanding of what their imbalances are, provide them with a personalized dose of a nutritional supplement as a starting place, eventually we would also focus on medicine, but personalized doses versus set doses that are specifically targeted to bring their hormones or bring their nutrients up to balance. So if you’re low vitamin D, you would take a specific dose of vitamin D. So we thought we would just have this one stop shop to understand what your preventative issues are, and then also provide some guidance on how to provide the most optimal and personalized dosing. And so we started with that and we made quite a lot of headway and were…

15:03 S1: And did you actually ever ended up moving that product, or did you move earlier to something new? 

15:08 S2: We did. Yeah. So we are launching a crowdfunding for that product actually in a couple of months. So we were still moving forward with that product, but our vision is just a lot more bigger now. So at one point we were just focusing on a healthcare solution. Now we’re focusing on a solution; we’re also focusing on process and data management. So we’re very dedicated to providing this product. And so what we’re gonna do now is just have that product available in our marketplace so users will be able to test and then they’ll be able to dispense in real time.

15:34 S1: And then what do those tests look like? Are there very invasive, or is it more like a saliva test or…

15:41 S2: Yeah, the only way we’d be able to bring this to market as quickly as we are is if they’re not invasive at all. So they’re saliva-based. And with vitamin D… So with vitamins, mostly it’s blood prick, so just a small amount of blood coming out of your finger, but we’re starting with saliva-based test. Actually before that, that piece is actually quite a complex piece, being able to build out these point of care tests. And so we’re launching our product simply as a wellness dispenser. So it’ll be a dispenser that dispenses up to six different nutritional supplements. And then we’re building the systems so it’s modular. So after a year’s time, so in 2020 we’ll be able to add on the testing component. So the testing component it’s still being built right now, but we’re gonna go ahead and launch the dispenser, and so people will be able to…

16:24 S1: So there’s gonna be two different devices then, or it’s gonna integrate together or…

16:28 S2: It’s gonna integrate, yeah. We’re building it as a modular system. So you’ll order your testing piece and then it’ll just be able to affix directly onto the existing piece.

16:35 S1: And the testing piece. Will you need like something like FDA approval for it? What’s really holding it back? 

16:41 S2: Yeah. So if we focus on wellness, we actually don’t need to get FDA approval. So our plan is to move it to the marketplace as a wellness device. There’s still some things we’re working out with regulators, which is why I’m not able to share too much about the testing piece cause we still have a couple of question marks. But once we start to dispense medicine, then we’re definitely gonna have to apply for FDA approval and go through a number of other steps. And so that’s why we’re focusing on wellness. And that’s where our passion lies, but then of course there’s a lot more that this product can offer in a medical space. So then that’s the next phase which will take probably two years to get the approvals.

17:16 S1: And then how does it work for the dispensing? What sort of supplements dispense, and how do you even know then what doses I need without having a testing device? Do I have to get a lab test then from a third party? 

17:28 S2: Yeah, exactly. So that’s where our initial clinical lab tests are coming in. So right now, you can order an encrypted genetic tests from us, you might find out that you have predisposition in your vitamin D metabolism. So at this point, as a starting place, we’re not gonna be able to provide fully personalized doses because, of course, if the user decides to only fill out a health survey and track their healthy behaviors and give us a little information, then we’re not gonna know how much they need. And so the more tests that they get and the more specific their tests are then the more we’ll be able to… The practitioners on our team will be able to provide a more specific guidelines in terms of what that specific dose is. So for now it might be as simple as just ordering a vitamin D pill and you would get the dose that’s recommended for adults within your age range.

18:16 S1: And why do I still need a device then? If you, basically you can tell me how much Vitamin D I need, and you dispense a pill, do I really still need a device for that? 

18:25 S2: Yeah, that’s all about compliance. People just like to have the conveniences, and people like to make the coffee in their kitchen versus going out to a coffee shop or making it themselves. They’d rather just use their Nespresso and have it ready made for them. So this is really for the people who want to be healthy and want to be on top of their health, but who struggle to maintain their routines. So someone like me, I don’t need someone to tell me. I don’t need a machine to tell me how much I should take and how often to take it. But for a lot of people, they struggle with that routine.

18:54 S1: Yeah, I can see that. And it’s gonna launch on a crowdfunding campaign soon, you were saying? 

18:58 S2: Yes. We’re launching an Indiegogo Campaign for the wellness dispenser. And then are encrypted genetic tests, that… We just launched that; it’s called GenomeBuddy. We just launched that a couple of weeks ago, so that’s available. We have a separate app for that. It’s all still connected through the same blockchain. So if you’re somebody who signs and registers on one app, you’ll be registered up to that same platform on our other app. But we are creating a number of apps versus just having one app ’cause it makes a lot more sense if you’re only interested in focusing on your genetics. You don’t have to have a whole bunch of other features available to you. But GenomeBuddy’s available, and then our dispenser will be available in a couple of months, and so…

19:33 S1: And where is GenomeBuddy right now available? It’s on your website, or it’s also a crowdfunding campaign? 

19:38 S2: Well, GenomeBuddy has its own website, genomebuddy.com. It’s also available on the Bowhead website. It’s available if you were to search for GenomeBuddy on… In the App Store and in the Android play store, Google Play store, you would find it there. It’ll also show up in the marketplace of our current Healthy Habits Tracking app. So it’s kind of available everywhere right now. And then we have a bunch of ambassadors who are also offering that test up to their communities because it’s the only genetic test of its kind that allows people to own that data, own that raw data and the comprehensive report, and then of course, also monetize it.

20:11 S1: Yeah, I have to say that that’s pretty huge because a lot of data is right now being shared. Right? You submit it… I think it was a scandal recently, right? It was some company that was sharing it without any permission of anyone.

20:23 S2: Yeah, it’s really unfortunate because often they’ll have it in the fine print, and people are not reading the fine print. But 23andMe just made a big deal with a pharma company. And only after this public uproar, they finally shifted their ways and said that you can now decide to un-share your data. But if you’ve been a customer for a number of years, your data has already been shared probably 500 times without your consent.

20:48 S1: It’s already out there.

20:49 S2: Yeah, which is really unfortunate.

20:51 S1: Yeah, so… And then what’s gonna be the price point then? 

20:53 S2: So, for a genetic test? 

20:54 S1: Yeah.

20:55 S2: Yeah, so, that’s… Right now we’re charging $300. We’re offering up a bunch of discounts and rebates online right now and through our ambassador community. But I think we have dreams to have it as competitive as possible. But this is kind of like a very, very comprehensive test. So you’re not just getting your ancestral condition; you’re also getting information on what your single nucleotide polymorphisms are and what some of our predispositions are, but also how to go and fix these issues. And so a lot of testing, a lot of reporting companies will just tell you what the raw data is, and they won’t actually give you any guidelines on what you can do to improve your health today. And I think that’s a giant miss again because we need clear guidelines on how we can fix our situation in real time. Otherwise, because of all the distractions that we have and all the commitments that we have, we just fall off. So we’re really focusing on that and giving people some really clear information on what they can do today to course correct based on what the information is showing.

21:48 S1: Wow, that sounds very exciting. And it’s completely encrypted, right? Like, nobody else has access to it and that’s really…

21:54 S2: Exactly.

21:55 S1: That’s fantastic.

21:55 S2: Yeah, so all the data gets stored in the Bowhead blockchain and only available to you through your private key. And so that’s, that cryptographic private key I mentioned, you own it. The laboratory has to delete that data. They have, I think, 90 days to delete that data.

22:09 S1: Gotcha. All right. I wanna take a quick break here to give our kind and awesome producer, Lila, a chance to share a few words about our sponsor.




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23:58 S1: And we’re back on air. So yeah, it seems like you have your fingers in a lot of different pies. How is the reception been so far for your various products? 

24:07 S2: Yes, the reception has been pretty good, I would say, especially I mentioned the Cambridge Analytica case. Now that people understand that our data is being sold and also that there’s actually future value or value that could be generated from our own data, there’s a lot more receptivity to what we’re creating. So it does require quite a bit of education on our side. I’ve had to… Especially even going into the hospitals, we really need to spend a lot of time educating on the dangers of data theft and just not having that ownership over our data. So there’s a been a giant kind of learning curve, but otherwise… So we’re still kind of trying to identify who our market is and who these users are, but people are generally just really excited about what we’re doing.

24:45 S2: It’s being in the blockchain world, the philosophy around just not having third parties and interacting directly with each other, being transparent, having a trust-less model so that you can interact directly with anonymous bodies and not have to worry about third parties stealing or just keeping data, fraudulent behavior, I think that alone is just really exciting, and a lot of people in that space. And so now that the word is out that this technology also has led to these cases in healthcare, there’s just a lot more interest in attention onto what we’re building. And also people who just generally wanna help us, who really care about the healthcare, and usually those are people who have been impacted by healthcare, having a loved one die, or having a sick parent or child, those are usually the ones who kinda understand that we have to change healthcare. And to do that, we really need to think about this really important piece around data ownership and sovereignty.

25:37 S1: And when it comes to that, to the data ownership, where do you see your main challenge? Is it like educating users about the benefits of really owning all their health data, or is it about getting partners on board that are ready to forgo the data and integrate with you, ideally, to make it easy in terms of the user experience? 

25:55 S2: Yeah, so the challenges really lay, as you said in your latter comment, around bringing the partners on board. So working with hospitals, working with big pharma, other clinical researchers, and really getting them to shift their mindset. And I think that’s been one of the greatest challenges. Specifically, with electronic health records and working with hospitals and private clinics and those institutions, there’s definitely a lot of, just a very big learning curve. And also people associate blockchain with Bitcoin and with these cryptocurrencies that are quite volatile. And so they just have a lot of skepticism with the technology. And so there’s just a lot of education that we have to offer to let them know that that’s part of the industry, but it’s one part of it, and that this is actually a very smart move for healthcare.

26:41 S2: And the other piece is in just empowering people to just take more self-responsibility around their healthcare. People are so used to doctors making these decisions for them. And so using our cryptocurrency as incentive, as a reward for getting people to start to just organize their data and order tests and really even understand what their genetics mean or what some of their underlying inefficiencies are in their body, that alone is also a challenge especially around finding the right people. Because we’re not having a problem finding people who are in the data ownership privacy space; it’s more around finding people who actually want to or need to have more personalized guidance when it comes to their health, and so people with rare diseases, people who are at risk of Big Pharma benefiting from their data and then not receiving anything in return.

27:27 S1: Actually thinking about it, when it comes to cryptocurrency and the blockchain in general, one of the great things is that you cut out the middleman. You have Bitcoin without the need of any banks, and it just works, the trust is there.

27:40 S2: That’s right.

27:41 S1: I’m wondering when it comes to you guys, do you have that as well in a sense that, okay I have the confidence, I can put up my healthcare and health data on the platform. But even maybe 5-10 years down the road, who knows, maybe you guys won’t be around anymore, but my data is still usable, I can still use the platform. Is that still gonna be the case, or what would happen in that scenario? 

28:04 S2: Yeah, it’s a good question. If Bowhead doesn’t exist, the blockchain will still exist and the user will be able to decrypt that information with their private key, so the benefits of the features of this world where… This blockchain space where users can interact directly with another user and send something of value, an asset, money, directly without third party or interference, very much applies to healthcare as well. The only difference is that we have created a private blockchain, so it gets a little bit more technical, but there’s public blockchains and private blockchains in our case because we’re in healthcare. We still have to have some control over the platform, and we have to make sure that we’re HIPAA-compliant, we’re still abiding by the privacy acts. So at this point, I would say we’re not quite there in terms of having people be able to use the platform if Bowhead didn’t exist, but at some point in the future we’ll get there.

28:56 S1: Gotcha. So what will be like the ideal scenario for you guys in 3, 5 years down the road, how do you see Bowhead Health look like but also the health industry in general? ‘Cause you guys are really driving some fundamental change here on many different fronts. You have the convenience aspect of leading a more healthy lifestyle and really knowing what nutrition my body might be lacking, but also you’re coming in as personalizing health data, making it more secure. How do you see the ideal future of health looking for you? 

29:28 S2: Yeah, from a user standpoint, as a patient, in a few years from now, it would be incredible for me to have a digital version of me, a digital me with all the information about my health and wellness very clearly understood and organized only available to me. Fully secure and private available to me that I would be able to share with all kinds of different practitioners, so thinking it through an integrated system, sharing the right data with a nutritionist or a healer, or a specialist and just having full control over that, and then being able to sell that data. And so having some of the bigger players in healthcare also part of this ecosystem where we understand that in five years from now that the user is like… It’s their life, it’s their data, it’s their health, and if you want to learn from them, then you ask them directly for their data.

30:16 S2: So it would just be a whole new system where I’m in charge of my data, I’m monetizing my data, I’m getting all the information I’m getting from practitioners is based on all of my data, not just a single subset of data that is only available to my doctor. My doctor, my practitioners have access to everything available about my health. So health, wellness, lifestyle, mental, emotional, physical, all the things. And then also through this data management system being able to share that across borders. So this system being orderless so that you can be anywhere in the world and you can access this information. You can share it with whomever, but again, based on your choosing, your consent.

30:54 S1: Can you also see… It helps me to move my data around, but it could also help me to get more transparent information. Let’s say I wanna get some quotes in right now, it would be very difficult. I would have to visit multiple hospitals or doctors and they would have to run their own tests because they’re not often not shared right? 

31:14 S2: Yeah.

31:14 S1: But if I was owning all the data then I could… Even without having to visit, if it was really standardized, I could get several quotes in and you would have a much more competitive effect in healthcare, wouldn’t you think so? 

31:26 S2: That’s right, so you’ll be able to do everything from the comfort of your own home, or you’ll be able to be on the go. It’ll be incredibly convenient and, yeah, doctors and other practitioners are gonna have to work harder. They’re not gonna be able to get away with just offering subpar services. It’s gonna be very competitive.

31:42 S1: Got it. And actually, I’m curious how is the data being handled when it’s being shared? Can you share it only for a certain amount of time and prevent that somebody copies the data and steals it in any way? 

31:54 S2: Yeah, that’s a good question. Through the blockchain… We’re using Ethereum Blockchain, and the reason why we chose this specific system is because it has smart contracts, contracts that are self-executed between an individual and the recipient. And so through smart contract technology, you can create all the different conditions. You can say, “I’m only sharing my X-ray data from June 2014 with this practitioner, and they can only view it for a week. After a week, it’ll expire and then they lose access to that data, and they don’t have any access to any future data.” So you can create all those conditions and through smart contracts it’ll make sure that all of that is respected. Of course there’s not much you can do if someone decides to screenshot a piece of data. And so there’s always gonna be ways around, we’re also building out a doctor dashboard, so once we start doing partnerships with hospitals and clinics, they’ll be able to download the Bowhead dashboard and then they’ll be able to receive this data. So there’s always the risk that someone’s gonna share that data or save it, but they are bound by smart contracts, and so all we can do is just hope that they do follow the rules. And again, they won’t be able to ever access additional data beyond what they’re given access to.

33:02 S1: That’s part of the change that we need. Yeah, this has been fantastic. So many different exciting things that you guys are working on. Well, thank you so much for having made the time. I wanna round up our interview with a quick-fire round where I’m just gonna ask you a series of questions, where you don’t really have to think too hard or too long about them. I just really wanna hear what’s coming like to your top of mind.

33:21 S2: Okay. That sounds good.

33:23 S1: Yeah. Maybe let’s start with an easy one. What did you have for breakfast today? 

33:27 S2: I had a piece of cornbread and an egg.

33:31 S1: And do you have any other fitness and health apps currently installed on your phone or any fitness device that you’re using? Obviously, beside Bowhead Health.

33:39 S2: Yeah. I really like Insight Timer. It’s a meditation app. I use it a few times a day.

33:43 S1: Speaking of, do you have any health and fitness habits that take a central role in your life? 

33:49 S2: Oh, I have so many.

33:53 S1: Which one is the most impactful one? 

33:54 S2: Well, I would say so, I did start something called Global Smoothie day because I really do believe in this green smoothie, and I have a kind of a formula around the optimal green smoothie to give you the most energy and nutrition. Yeah. I would say having a daily green smoothie and that’s something that I try to do everywhere… Wherever I am in the world.

34:11 S1: What do you put in a green smoothie? 

34:12 S2: Yeah. The formula is like 40-60% greens. And so all the dark leafy greens: Celery, cucumber, avocado. Those are sort of the staples. Sometimes I’ll add like cilantro or parsley. And then between 20 and 40% fruit. Generally I add berries or an apple, or if I’m travelling, I’ll use whatever’s local. And then I’ll recommend around 20% protein, healthy fats: Chia, flax, hemp, protein powder. I use a vegan fermented protein. Almond butter.

34:43 S1: Wow. That’s a lot.

34:44 S2: Yeah. It’s a…

34:45 S1: You take all of that with you when you go traveling? 

34:46 S2: Well, I usually… No, I usually go to a local market and buy the products. I’ll usually… I’ll travel with my protein powder. I’m generally vegan. I’d say I’m 90 percent of the time vegan. Sometimes it’s quite difficult. I’m traveling right now, so sometimes I have to be flexible, but I do travel with my protein powder. And then generally, I’m able to find everything else. I’ll always start my day with a tall glass of water. If I can, I’ll add sea salt to it. I love Clarella, it’s another one. It’s a single green algae. While I’m traveling, I’ll take a lot of Clarella with me. It’s very easy; you can get it in tablet form. Those are kind of like some of my staples.

35:18 S1: Yeah, I can see why you’re passionate about nutrition.

35:20 S2: Yeah.

35:21 S1: Yeah. Anyways, a lot of our listeners, they’re also very passionate about reading. Do you have a favorite book that you would like to recommend? 

35:27 S2: Yeah, there’s this book called Clean, Green, and Lean. I forget now who wrote it, he is from Toronto, and he’s someone I respect immensely, but that’s more in the environmental toxicology realm. I learned a lot from that book. I also love Dr. Mark Hyman’s books like Super Metabolism. I’m more so in the health space now into podcasts. I love Ben Greenfield. I love his nutrition podcast. And then Dr. Rhonda Patrick, Found My Fitness. I also like to support women in STEM, but I really love her work as well. And then, Authority Nutrition which they were bought out by Health Line. They’re an online database, but I love… I always point my clients towards their website just ’cause there’s so much information and it’s quite objective. They have a nice set of reviewers, MDs, PhDs who provide factual information.

36:10 S1: Wow. A lot of good resources. Well, thank you so much for sharing those. Finally, can you share something maybe that you believe most people get wrong about health or fitness? 

36:19 S2: You’ve probably heard this one before, but I would say the main one that stands out is protein. And I think it’s an important one to mention because people are still using that as an excuse for not moving from a primarily meat-based diet to a plant-based one. And so I think that the idea that we can’t obtain protein from plant-based sources and that we need so much protein to thrive is definitely a miss.

36:41 S1: Oh, that’s a good point to finish that on. Anything else that you would like to share with our audience? 

36:46 S2: No, I’m just… I’m incredibly grateful for this… The opportunity to share. And if people wanna check us out, check out the app. We’re taking a human-centered design approach, so we very much love and gain so much knowledge from the feedback of the community. I would just encourage everyone to think about data privacy, think about the future of healthcare and how you wanna protect yourself into the future, and then let us know through… Send us an email, tweet us, let us know how we can make our platform and system better.

37:13 S1: Well, thank you so much for coming on the show, Rhea. It’s been an incredible opportunity to really talk with someone who’s really sitting at the forefront of a lot of different interesting changes in the healthcare space. It’s been very exciting. Thank you so much.

37:26 S2: Thanks, Martin. Pleasure.

37:26 S1: Yeah. Take care. Bye.

37:29 S2: Bye.

37:29 S1: Well, and that brings our show to an end. It’s been absolutely fantastic to have Rhea on the show. I’ve learned so much about Bowhead Health, but also how they really got about to start. And it’s quite fascinating, the different areas that they really tried to take on with both their hardware product but also through their blockchain product and service. Which really stands to make a huge difference in terms of how we handle our healthcare data and how we access it, how we share it and how we keep it secure. It could really be empowering if it finds wide adoption, which is going to remain a big challenge, but if they succeed it’s gonna make a huge difference in the healthcare industry. I’m sure of it. As always, we put everything mentioned on our show in our show notes, which you can find on 20minute.fitness.

38:10 S1: Also as always, feel free to email us with your feedback at podcast@20minute.fitness. Let us know your thoughts about the show’s content and what you would like to see in terms of new guests, or if you have any new ideas about the things that we should be talking about, and what we haven’t talked about yet. And if you’re enjoying our podcast, please make sure to give us a five-star rating on Apple Podcast or leave us a review on your favourite podcasting app. Doing so really helps other listeners to discover our podcast and also learn more about the latest and greatest in fitness and health tech of course. Thanks again for listening. I’m your host, Martin Kessler, and also a huge shout-out to our awesome producer, Lilla Laczo, without whom this show wouldn’t really be possible. We hope to see you next time.

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Lilla Laczo

Lilla is a content writer and community manager at Shape.
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