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February 8, 2024 35 mins
Victoria Guido hosts Dr. Ramon Lizardo, CEO of Tele911, to discuss his company's innovative approach to emergency room diversion. Dr. Lizardo shares his journey from being a physician frustrated with the inefficiencies in emergency care to leveraging technology for better healthcare delivery. Tele911 is a service that transforms how emergency responses are handled. Rather than transporting patients to hospitals for non-critical care, Tele911 facilitates on-site treatments through paramedics equipped with iPads, allowing doctors to provide remote consultations, streamlining emergency services, and reducing unnecessary hospital visits and costs. Dr. Lizardo's motivation for founding Tele911 was driven by personal experiences and the desire to improve emergency healthcare delivery. He recounts the challenges of pioneering in digital health, particularly the initial skepticism from investors and potential users about remote medical services. The COVID-19 pandemic became a turning point, accelerating acceptance and demand for Tele911's services, and Dr. Lizardo discusses the challenges of scaling the service, maintaining data privacy, and the importance of a values-driven approach to business. Tele911 ( Follow Tele911 on LinkedIn (, X (, Instagram (, or YouTube ( Follow Dr. Ramon Lizardo on LinkedIn ( Follow thoughtbot on X ( or LinkedIn ( Become a Sponsor ( of Giant Robots! Transcript: VICTORIA:  This is the Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots Podcast, where we explore the design, development, and business of great products. I'm your host, Victoria Guido. And with me today is Dr. Ramon Lizardo, CEO of Tele911, the leader in emergency room diversion. Dr. Lizardo, thank you for joining me. DR. LIZARDO: Hey, Victoria. Good to connect with you once again. How are you? VICTORIA: I'm good. It's raining in San Diego, so, unlike the song, it does happen sometimes in Southern California. DR. LIZARDO: [laughs] But I love San Diego, by the way. It's one of those places where I feel like you have literally the perfect weather and perfect access to food. I'm a fan of Mexican food. And you can literally get the best Mexican food from, like, all of the trucks in San Diego. I truly believe that. VICTORIA: That's true. The only better place to get Mexican food in San Diego is just to go to Mexico. You -- DR. LIZARDO: There you go [laughter]. VICTORIA: Yeah. I actually went to a startup event that was in Tijuana on a Tuesday night and just walked over the border and walked back, and it was great. DR. LIZARDO: That is awesome. VICTORIA: [laughs] DR. LIZARDO: You know, there's a lot of expats living there now. It's really interesting, in Baja, California. VICTORIA: Yeah, there's some back and forth there. And yeah, so just give me a little bit about your background and a little bit more about Tele911. DR. LIZARDO: I'm a physician by training, but I've been in tech for about 15 years now. Tele911 is basically the child of a parent that was really frustrated with their specialty. So, I signed up for emergency medicine, and I realized a lot of what was happening was primary care. That led me to pursue a career in consulting. I worked at one of the Big Fours, interned at McKinsey, worked at Deloitte. Then, I started or joined a series of other startups that were very successful. About three exits in, I said, hey, remember that idea that actually got me out? Being frustrated in ER because a lot of these patients didn't need to go to the hospital but were there. Well, this is how this comes about. Tele911 is basically the product of a lot of frustration, but a lot of innovation. And now we're pretty much reshaping history. In California, Texas, or Florida, when a patient calls 911 now, an ambulance shows up, but instead of being taken to the hospital, they're actually seen at home in something called treatment in place. We're the doctor on the iPad of the paramedic. VICTORIA: So, thank you. That's a great interest. So, you had this background in consulting, and you had this experience as a physician, and then you decided to solve this really big problem with the cost around emergency rooms. So, before we dive into more around Tele911 and what you're doing with it, I thought we could warm up a little bit by just telling me, what gets you up in the morning? DR. LIZARDO: [laughs] What gets me up in the morning? Well, I'm blessed because I have a two and a six-year-old. So [laughs], the truth is they're the ones that get me up. They usually wake up way before I do. So, if you come to this house about 5:15, 5:30, I feel like everyone's awake, and if you come to this house at 9:00 p.m., we're fast asleep. But w
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