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Manabu Tokunaga: Bringing Smartest Clinical Image-Management Solutions For Healthcare Industry

Manabu Tokunaga

Incepted in 2013, WinguMD, Inc. is a digital health and connected health startup company based in Palo Alto, California, focusing solely on providing efficient and accurate communications between all clinical users.

Mirror Review gets candid with Manabu Tokunaga, Co-founder and CEO of WinguMD, Inc. to share his comprehensive journey in the healthcare industry.

How will you define the present day scenario of the healthcare industry?

In the U.S., our healthcare industry as a whole is in a state of flux. Just as in the pre-iTunes, Amazon, Uber and Airbnb era where the music, retail, taxi and hotel industries were extensively controlled by a set of major players, there also have been companies that have dominated Electronic Health Records (EHR) products and payer networks. Their success has been and is still largely determined by their profitability, but this model is finally starting to change. New disruptions are now coming from health-conscious consumers as well as large technology companies who are finding ways to manage care, convenience as well as service expenses.

Tell us about WinguMD and its unique range of services.

As, clinicians spend most of their working day; discussing observations, documenting findings and coordinating patient care with their colleagues, communication becomes one of the most fundamental aspects of healthcare delivery. However, the communication does not end at the point of care, but is also sent to future providers for a patient’s entire life. Unlike prescribing more tests, there is no direct profit associated with these activities, so this is the area that is likely to receive the least business-level prioritization. This makes for a frustrating situation for technicians, nurses, and surgeons who are all working in the trenches of care delivery.

WinguMD is a mobile healthcare platform company that currently focuses on providing efficient and accurate communications between all clinical users.

In the modern era of technology, how WinguMD has adapted to those changes in its working ecosystem?

Humans are mobile, and not attached to desks or planted in the ground, so mobile is the most natural technology for communication. Our job is to make this work efficiently using a combination of text, audio, and images with the help of AI. We can finally address everyday communication issues for every level of care with a smartphone carried in a coat pocket.

Our readers would like to know about your personal journey.

When I was a graduate student, I took a tour of a company that made CT and MRI scanners. I was amazed to see that one can visualize people’s bodies without physically cutting them open and slicing them. Mathematics, quantum physics and very fast computers were combined to make that happen. This was one of the highest human achievements since the invention of the wheel.

What attracted you to start a venture in the healthcare sector?

Though I did not originally plan to go into this field, my first job out of graduate school was working for that CT scanner company. This started my radiology informatics career, which continues till this day.

As a Founder/ CEO of a leading healthcare company, what role do you play in its operations and growth?

From designing the microprocessor for CT image processing to designing workstations for radiologists, then moving on to startup companies, I have learned a lot about making a healthcare IT company operationally successful at all levels.

How do you tackle professional crisis?

Crises are a part and parcel of every business. When a problem presents itself, I always look at the big picture instead of narrowly focusing on the problem at hand. Often a problem is quite complex, with a deeper and many times hidden with a root cause that is not always apparent on the surface. In my industry, an equipment failure is a big deal, especially when a patient is being tested. This is when you get a call from an angry doctor. Learning how not to panic is a very important skill I did not have initially, and had to develop. Hypnotherapy was very helpful, and I eventually taught myself to be in control of my mind in almost every situation. I recommend all execs to learn how to not knee-jerk react, as there will be plenty of crises when you run a startup.

How does your company stand apart from its competitors? What are your future milestones for WinguMD?

I have learned two important things that set us apart from the other competitors. Firstly, we handle things with confidence and precise execution. A lot of other companies lack this and cannot get their good ideas off the ground. This involves not just building a minimum viable product, but also creating sales, services and, in our situation, regulatory compliance involving functioning and operating processes that are highly scalable. Secondly, our mission is to make our product a natural extension of the healthcare worker as possible.

What are your future milestones for WinguMD?

Following the Japanese Osaka dialect that says,“Atari-mae” meaning just doing what you are supposed to do, my team and I would like to add more speech, vision and text to facilitate clinical communications.

Who was your source of inspiration during the start of your professional career? Whom would you like to dedicate your success? 

The one person whom I look up to is Mr. Kounosuke Matsushita (Founder of Panasonic), who also belongs to my home town of Osaka. He built his electronic empire by selling light bulb sockets, truly depicting a symbol of a successful startup. He often wrote about how luck can be made by working for it. By this, he means that you need to work hard so that you will be exposed to more situations that bring you luck, and you will be able to recognize luck when it comes. In the same way, my career was built upon some hard work and occasional fortunate breaks, like the chance to visit a CT manufacturer and ending up getting a job at that company and starting my career. I am thankful that Mr. Matsushita has left his legacy in his books.