Sitting Down With… Mamar Gelaye, Chief Executive Officer, Omnyx, LLC Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
What motivates you?
Because I grew up in academia, I think the intersection between it and clinical practice is an area where so much work needs to be done; we have more research and knowledge than we have efficacy and outcome.
For the pathology world, there is a tremendous shortage of new capacity and educational resources. The next generation of pathologists not only need to be adept in anatomical pathology but they need to be knowledgeable in molecular biology and genomics too. That’s where new technology comes in; it’s the platform of the future and that’s what we as an industry are driving.
Can you explain the Omnyx ethos?
By design, we’re an extremely entrepreneurial organization that’s committed to transforming the industry. Our mission as a company is far more than developing digital pathology technology, it’s about transposing knowledge into valuable clinical use.
Omnyx was formed through a joint venture between GE Healthcare and UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center). GE Healthcare, of course, has a tremendous lineage in invention. And we’re fortunate to have UPMC – an impressive institution with vast pathology resources and a commitment to transform healthcare at its core. They’re inventors. It’s really inspiring to work with clinicians who not only do great patient care, but also want to spend time with software engineers inventing platforms. I consider it to be an honor to work with them.
Omnyx is the offspring of these two very formidable institutes and we’re helping pathology transform. How? By focusing on three core factors: software (which must be a knowledge-driven platform that supports pathologists and strengthens their confidence in a diagnosis); scanning (technology that allows for rendering the same, if not better, standard of image that is used when looking through a microscope); change management (helping the human side of change so that pathologists believe the new capabilities are better than traditional methods and they help influence the choice of treatment options).
How do you deliver on your mission?
We do what we do as a company because patients deserve higher quality and predictability in healthcare. Partnership is integral to us and we’re really excited about the work we’re doing with our partners to take on this challenge. A good example is our collaboration with David Snead and Ian Cree at Coventry Warwickshire NHS Trust in the UK. The trust has created a Center of Excellence for digital pathology. It’s a huge commitment on the part of the Trust, and it’s driven by the desire to increase efficiency and quality across the UK National Health Service (NHS). I think we have a shared vision to establish research and care protocols that will support the transition from how pathology is practiced today to how it’s utilized in the future.
More recently we’ve partnered with Clarient, part of the Life Science division at GE Healthcare. Clarient is one of the largest reference labs in the US and will soon use Omnyx digital technology to transform their pathology practice. This represents a multi-year alliance; we will work closely to invent, create and really bring to bear the kinds of software and inventions that will make a difference for clinicians.
We also work with institutions throughout the US, the UK, the Middle East and elsewhere. And I think that’s one of the reasons our solutions are really compelling, because they’re not singularly designed or influenced. That’s one of the benefits of being a very small company owned by two larger companies – we can take more risk. And in fact it’s incumbent on us to do those things that are really going to accelerate the industry.
So you don’t consider Omnyx to be a traditional vendor?
No. We consider ourselves a partner. We like to collaborate with thought leaders and institutions that have the same vision we do. I think there’s a tremendous amount of data, but not often insight. The ability to aggregate data is needed, but the ability to present insight to a clinician at the point of decision-making is crucial. This is what our technologies are working towards.
I think the challenges are pretty big with this, globally. As a pathologist’s educational needs continue to grow, so too will the importance of networking and sharing expertise and knowledge. When you network practices together then it can create a harmonized ecosystem of skills that can support improved patient outcomes. Technology helps facilitates this.
What is your biggest challenge?
Our platform needs to demonstrate real value; its solutions need to be suitable for multiple business models in healthcare and that’s a real opportunity for us. I seldom meet leaders of healthcare institutions that don’t feel a sense of responsibility to make things better for the patient. But I think the gap between idea and execution of idea is the biggest challenge in healthcare.
We’re a company that’s not only visionary, we’re also very active in piloting our ideas, working with customers, doing a proof-of-concept and seeing value. And then going from one small success to an even larger one. I think the hardest part is making that change happen and making it last – but when we put the patient’s health first, I think collectively as an industry we can make an impact.
After graduating with a pharmacology degree, I began my career in scientific publishing and communications. Now with more than 16 years of experience in this field, my career has seen me heading up editorial and writing teams at Datamonitor, Advanstar and KnowledgePoint360 group. My past experiences have taught me something very important – that you have to enjoy working with, and have respect for your colleagues. It’s this that drew me to Texere where I now work with old colleagues and new. Though we are a hugely diverse team, we share several things in common – a real desire to work hard to succeed, to be the best at what we do, never to settle for second best, and to have fun while we do it. I am now honored to serve as Editor of The Pathologist and Editorial Director of Texere Publishing.