Interview with Milton Chen, PhD, CEO of VSee

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Milton, thank you for making time for us, today. We've known each other for over six years now, and have experienced rapid growth in our own two companies, as well as in this fast moving, and quickly changing industry. I would like our readers to get to know you, your company, your passions, and connection to HAWA, as well as your vision for the future.

Q- Milton, you are on an extraordinary life journey; what drives you on a daily basis?

A- Yes, thanks, Marilyn! What excites me is to have as many life experiences as possible! I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to be the CEO of my own company, climb to the Mount Everest base camp, and to travel to Iraq and Syria on medical and refugee missions. I'm looking forward to more experiences like these!

Q- As a leader and CEO of VSee, and an industry leader in the tele-health space, what advice do you have for other organizations, regarding selecting health innovation solutions?

A- Great question. It's this: You don't really know how your implementation will work out until you actually do it, so you want a solution that's flexible and can fit several different outcomes and scenarios. That also means finding a partner you can communicate with well; who you are willing to work with extensively. Also, don't let the desire for "integration" be a show-stopper, but look at the big picture of what you want to accomplish. This is especially important in a growing industry like tele-health; we believe in a "fast experiments" approach.

Q- That‘s great advice Milton, and I personally follow that lead with my own company. One of our best decisions in the startup phase was partnering with you and VSee. HAWA Members love using the VSee video software built into our platform, to talk with their HAWA Providers. Can you tell us about other well known people who have used the same technology and the unique use case?

A- The list is long with millions of VSee users, but some names that stand out are, Hillary Clinton, Angelina Jolie and Ban Ki Moon, the former UN Secretary General, who spoke with refugees over VSee. Mandy Moore participated in an interactive Facebook town hall. The music group, Linkin Park performed during the Playing for Change concert. Richard Dreyfuss used VSee to promote the youth vote, and it was used during President Obama's inauguration. VSee users connect on a daily basis across the globe with physicians and health care experts and we consider them all stars for proactively taking great care of their health.

Q- Milton, I'd like to hear how the VSee Team stays healthy using technology.

A- Everyone uses it a little differently. Some use health tracker apps or devices, others use screen break apps like WorkRave, sleep and meditation apps, and online exercise classes, and one group formed an online hiking group. Of course, we also take advantage of our remote work culture to fit exercise or power naps, into our day.

Q- I'd say that is a good variety of healthy habits, and I've witnessed your team involved in the great outdoors across the globe. As a leader in this space, how do you see digital health changing over the next five years?

A- It's going to get more personalized as more healthcare gets done online. As Amazon and Facebook have personalized your online shopping and social media experience, to the point where people tend to think they can read their mind, digital health will become tailored to your health needs and interests.

Q- Milton, I often think you're reading my mind and the minds of Americans as you continue to push the limits of what can be achieved on a personal and organizational level. Do you think connected health devices can be a game changer for employee well-being programs?

A- Definitely. Tele-health visits can really start becoming the norm, when every family has a phone clip-on otoscope or health device "pack" with a digital thermometer, stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, etc., the way that most people have a thermometer in their home today.

Q- It sounds like the healthy self-empowerment movement is here to stay! You yourself, and your team are great healthy role models. I've noticed that you rarely drink anything but water, and most of your team does the same. Tell us a bit more about your personal health secrets to success.

A- Living a healthy life is all about having a positive attitude. Challenges aren't something to stress about, but a chance to learn something new. Also, I don't eat white rice!

Q- Thank you for sharing that Milton. What's the funniest story you remember during the early startup phase of VSee?

A- The early years seem like a lifetime ago, in some respects. I'll share with you how we hired our first sales person, Colleen. She came to the Strong Angel (Conference) with one of our developers, got bored during the event, went to Costco and bought a bunch of snacks to fill a concession booth. This got her in hot water with the event organizer, but at the end of the day, Dr. Eric Rasmussen, who led the event, actually announced that not only did they not want to ban her from selling snacks, but encouraged people to go buy from her. She even received a little tiara! We ended up hiring her for our sales team, after that.  :)

Q- Great story, Milton! I personally look up to you as one of my mentors. Who do you look up to as a mentor, and what is the most valuable wisdom you've gained from them?

A- Thank you Marilyn. One of my Stanford advisors, Professor Pat Hanrahan (Pixar and Tableau Founder) is both a brilliant academic and business entrepreneur. Whatever he is working on, he has the ability to hone in on the most important issue to solve. As a startup, he told us to leave our ego at the door and to focus on what's most important - not the technical issues, but the business problem you're trying to solve.

Q- Wow! That's key advice. VSee and HAWA have been teamed up for about six years now. What can you share with our readers about the HAWA Team?

A- We love working with the HAWA Team! HAWA has had a really forward-looking vision of tele-health - where digital health needs to go, and what tools are necessary to make real changes. It has really pushed VSee to create a platform to meet the needs of employers and members. The HAWA Team is also a gracious and generous group, and I personally appreciate the time we've spent working with and learning from them, to make tele-health work.

Milton, thank you for those kind words and for taking the time for today's interview. We really appreciate you and your team and the words of wisdom. I understand you will be at the American Telemedicine Association Annual Conference & Trade Show, April 14 – April 16, 2019, in New Orleans. I encourage all those readers attending the conference to stop by and meet Milton in Booth #727.