Koya Medical is an Oakland-based healthcare company developing breakthrough treatments for lymphedema and venous diseases. Andy, also a guest on The Health Technology Podcast, founded Koya in 2018.
Passion, Personal Experience, and the Patients
Koya Medical was born from Andy’s personal history. Andy’s father developed lymphedema after receiving prostate cancer treatment, and through this process, he noticed numerous difficulties in the at-home treatment process. “I learned about lymphatic and venous disorders from my dad’s recovery from prostate cancer surgery,” says Andy. “It turns out, chronic edema is a common and chronic side-effect for cancer survivors and a tremendous global unmet need.”
Koya came about in the aftermath of this realization, as Andy wondered how care could be better delivered. “Koya was founded in 2018 with the mission to transform lymphatic and vein care through innovative patient-centric platforms,” says Andy. “What our team found was that patients like my father suffered with this chronic progressive disease without a cure, and traditional at-home treatments didn’t adequately address their needs. We began by looking for opportunities to reimagine how to deliver treatments anywhere and anytime to enable the patient’s life.”
And today, their mission remains bold and simple, Andy says. “We’re developing breakthrough treatments for lymphedema and venous diseases to enable our patient’s lives. We do this through our innovation in technology that allows the mobility and personalized care that is unavailable with traditional therapy.”
As for the technology itself, Dayspring®, it’s a prime example of what wearable technology can do for the medicine of the future. “It’s the first active compression solution designed to enable movement, mobility, while delivering personalized dynamic compression treatments,” Andy says.
From Leader to Leader: 3 Lessons Learned
#1: Follow your passions.
“Healthcare is and continues to be one of the greatest challenges of our time,” he says. “The on-going global pandemic is a stark reminder of the disparities and discontinuities in care and outcomes and challenges us and our health systems. My advice for those new to this space is to set high ambitions and align that with your passion and focus on the unmet needs.”
But while following passions is important, he advises looking towards the long-term goals in addition to the short-term ones. “While we all want to revolutionize healthcare overnight, there’s no shortage of real needs for meaningful incremental improvements and innovations along the way that can deliver real benefits to patients,” Andy says.
#2: Set yourself in a continuous learning mode.
To grow as an entrepreneur and a leader, Andy suggests surrounding yourself with people you can learn from. “Setting yourself to be in a continuous learning mode is perhaps the most important thing you can do as an entrepreneur and as a team starting up,” says Andy.
#3: It’s all about people.
“It’s people first, people second, and people third. Surround yourself with great people who care deeply and align on values and insight,” says Andy. “Innovation and insight can come from a variety of sources. It can be as relevant coming from an industry veteran as it is from someone who is new to the space and looking at the challenges and opportunities with a fresh perspective.”
Healthcare: The Space We Love
Healthcare is unique; it offers people a chance to create a great impact on the world — whether we start there, or not. “Healthcare found me,” says Andy. “I was trained as a Chemical Engineer in grad school and wanted to try my hand at mountaineering post-graduation. As part of that experience, I had the opportunity to train in Nepal and got involved in a cataract camp providing free cataract surgeries for those that otherwise would go blind. That was the pivotal moment which drew me into becoming deeply interested in healthcare innovation and its impact worldwide.”
And although healthcare is rewarding, it’s not for the faint of heart. “Healthcare innovations require insight, ingenuity, grit, appreciation of all the stakeholders within the health ecosystem, and a deep understanding of the human condition,” says Andy.
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