A year ago, little did we know about the challenges we were about to undergo. The world health organization declared a global crisis after the Coronavirus hit the globe. And, despite years of warnings from major leaders, no one was prepared for what has to come. Except for Kyla, one of the most comprehensive, COVID-19 solutions for the workplace.
Kyla brings together onsite testing, technology, and physicians in order to deliver one of the most comprehensive COVID-19 solutions. The company offers a service that brings nurses to test employees on-site weekly. Plus, an application that allows its clients to monitor symptoms and vitals daily.
Thus, they ensure and safe, comfortable, and easy way to get back to the office and, our almost normal life.
In a conversation with Garick Hismatullin, CEO of the Kyla company, we learned further about it. How did they prepare themselves for such an unprecedented event? What were their major challenges and how did they manage to overcome them?
Kyla met its true journey with the coronavirus
“I still remember that meeting. We were kind of learning the end of the world was about to come. Our chief medical physician was telling us that based on all these mathematical models there would be 20 percent of the hospitalization rate. And we knew already that based on those models, we were maxing out of hospital capacity. So that was our main focus.”Garick Hismatullin, Kyla CEO 2021
Coming from an urgent and primary care background, Garick had already in mind the risks of a pandemic. In 2011 he worked with an emergency room physician and by the end of 2012, early 2013 they had opened up their first clinic.
Back then, Kyla was an internal software designed to create a more engaging primary care program for its patients. But as Covid came about, they saw and opportunity to help and took it.
“It was pretty obvious that testing would be important,” he told me. Thus, they added a service line to their existing centers for testing.
“It seems that all this came together quickly, but in reality, we’ve been working on this for more than 8 years. All the little pieces were kind of already in place and when we recognized an opportunity with covid we took it off.”Garick Hismatullin, Kyla CEO 2021
However, it might surprise you to learn that these conversations were happening as early as December 2019.
“By the end of December we knew that Covid was not going to be like other pandemics,” he admitted.
Judging by how it was affecting other places before it reached the US, they knew it had lots of containment. Once containment was breached, we knew that there was no stopping COVID spread globally. And realized testing was going to be important.
“Specifically for essential workers, manufacturers, etc. People who had to go to work or else we would run out of food and basic services.”Garick Hismatullin, Kyla CEO 2021
Then, by February 2020, not only had Kyla opened up its first drive-thru in Santa Clara County, but it was already sending nurses out.
By November, the state of California mandated that if you have more than 2 positive cases in any two-week period then the employers must test every week. “That was a huge validation,” said the CEO.
Buying time and saving lives
Meanwhile, while we civilians learned about the spread of this new virus, Kyla was thinking about what was going to happen and how counties they needed to be.
Indeed, weekly testing of more than 2 thousand people has its logistical challenges because you got to get the results, to the employers, themselves and coordinate people to go to work. Likewise, they knew it was a time-sensitive matter. That was their first challenge.
“We got it down to 30 secs: the patient downloads the app before. The apps connect them with the employers profile they submit their insurance info (so we have all of their information at the back end) and, at the point the nurse gets to their on-site facility, they just show their barcode, the nurse takes a picture and their profile automatically pulls out,” said Hismatullin.
Garick continued, “The nurse swaps their nose, meanwhile, a label gets printed. They stick the label to the tube and the tube goes directly into our labs where it would be scanned and automatically uploaded to the person’s and employer’s profile in less than 24 hours.”
With this type of systems you can test more 3 to 4 thousand people. That is what allows for upscale operations to work.
But, perhaps the most challenging obstacles they
Garick Hismatullin, Kyla CEO 2021 faced were not the virus itself, but the governments trying to control it.
Kyla’s challenges along the way
“We were building the plane as it was running down the runway.”Garick Hismatullin, Kyla CEO 2021
Coming from a company that had to face the coronavirus and the testing firsthand, it was surprising to hear that the most challenging of all things was “insurance reimbursement.”
What does that even mean?
In fact, insurance reimbursement impacts everything. From the amount of money that’s there for investments, to the relationship with the clients and patience.
Not to mention, that for a service like Kyla, which is technologically sustained, it also changed the app’s own design and business model.
“It was frustrating because the rules were changing all the time. And we would just build a solution to fit the use case of what they wanted us to do, and all of the sudden they would change a week later, and then two weeks later they would update the language in such a minor way but it completely changes the meaning of any major sentence.”
Garick Hismatullin, Kyla CEO 2021
That at the federal level, but at state-level was even worse. The state was saying completely different things. They came up with their own rules, competing with what the government was saying. Thus, who should they listen to?
Kyla had to rebuild the app, re-create the contracts, re-create their business model many many times. “We went through that probably March, May, and another one in June, July, then steady up until October and then another major shift,” he explained.
Who is responsible for all of these? Is it the employee, the employer, the government? Who is going to pay for all of these? Those were the real questions. And they changed weekly…Garick Hismatullin, Kyla CEO 2021
Not to mention that health care workers don’t know for up to 90 days whether or not they are going to get paid. So, running these businesses already is making a multimillion-dollar bet.
Many of the employers were understanding about the situation, but many (reasonably) were not.
And, while the government was still trying to get into a consensus agreement on how to handle the crisis, Kyla was ready. However, the government’s disorganized approach didn’t make things easier for this front-line worker committed to saving lives.
The future of Kyla
Up until now, Kyla has worked with more than 400 companies, ranging from publicly traded to small business operations. Their start-up-like model has allowed them to change and adapt to the unique setups that each business has and their requirements.
“One of the best parts of being a start-up company is that you get to experiment, and you learned a lot. And then when disruption happened you get to take that learning and apply it, and that was our opportunity to do so. And [it] got to help a lot of people along the way.”Garick Hismatullin, Kyla CEO 2021
Truth is, testing is not going anywhere. As the cities are beginning to open, they need Kyla, and all other testing services, now more than ever.
And, if there is something that we all have learned from this pandemic (besides the systematic racism that is still very much present) is the importance of our health.
Not only would companies be more aware of the health of its employees, but individuals would be more aware of their own health as well. Services like Kyla will enable us to track and monitor our health in a much easier and engaging way.
But, as Covid-19 has welcomed health data collection, we also need to be aware of who are we sharing it with.
And, judging from how the government has mishandled information lately, I would much rather prefer having my health-information safe in the hands of physicians and doctors, who have dedicated and committed their lives, to our wellbeing.