Behind every great company is a great vision; behind every great vision is a founder (or three) raising the company like a real life baby - tending to it, and using years of wisdom and experience to help it grow and stand on its own.
We sat down with Prof. Varda Shalev, our co-founder and Chief Medical Officer to try to figure out where she draws her energies for pursuing her mission to save lives day in and day out.
Professor Prof. Varda Shalev, MD MPH, was the director of the institute of research and innovation KSM –Maccabitech. She is an active primary care physician. With an MD degree from Ben-Gurion University Medical School and post doc in medical informatics at Johns Hopkins, she founded the first medical informatics in Israel. Prof. Shalev is a Professor at the Tel Aviv University School of Public Health. She has authored or co-authored over 250 publications in peer-reviewed journals.
Varda, what would you say your life mantra is?
Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. ~Helen Keller
What inspires you?
After surviving the Holocaust alone without any family members they managed to build a great family and partake in building a great country by staying true to their passion, vision, and values.
What fact about you surprises people the most?
That every Friday evening I cook dinner for all four generations of my family (parents, children, & grandchildren) and we all make it a point to eat together at least once a week. Friday evening is my main source of energy for the whole week and when I look around the table I feel a real point of balance between my career and my personal life.
Where are you when you’re not in the office?
Either walking on the beach early in the morning or on the tennis court late in the evenings.
What would you say was the “ah-ha” moment of revelation that led you to found Alike?
After many years of being a family physician and many years of developing decision support systems for physicians, I understood that the only way to optimize health is to empower the patient and to provide patients with knowledge from data and from people like them.
What does Alike solve?
Patients feel that they need more personalized knowledge about their health status on a holistic level. Patients are unique and cannot be defined by their conditions. Patients are people and people are a mix of complex characteristics, lifestyle factors, habits and medical conditions. They can gain so much from data of “Alike” patients and that we, as physicians, cannot provide them…
What is our biggest healthcare challenge?
To make the patient a proactive, knowledgeable, and engaged member of his or her healthcare team.
What should I have asked you, but didn’t?
Have you ever considered ending your work as a physician due to so many different roles?
Have you? :)
I define myself first as a family physician and then all the rest. That’s why I have never stopped seeing patients. I have had a clinic with a partner for 26 years and we treat three generations and know the families extremely well. I enjoy every session with patients and learn from them on a daily basis. It’s the best feeling to help somebody and it’s never boring to work with patients.
Whenever I am confused while developing a system, I ask myself what is the value to the patient, and to be able to answer correctly, you have to be hands-on. So knowing what the patients need, I have co-founded Alike. It will be the largest social medical network that will change the way patients are treated and will allow them to gain better health outcomes. People will not undergo a procedure or start a new medication or deal with a bothering symptom without consulting their “Alikes”.