Savonix CEO Mylea Charvat Working to Fill Huge Physician Gap in Testing Cognitive Function

Episode-85-Breaking-Health

EPISODE 85

Do you know your cognitive number?

This is a question that is seldom asked, but according to Mylea Charvat, PhD, CEO of Savonix, knowing the answer is important.

Savonix is a digital and cost-effective cognitive assessment platform that can be used to monitor mental cognition. If you’re wondering what exactly mental cognition is, it isn’t the same as IQ.

Whereas IQ can be determined by culture, cognition is distinctly determined by what the brain is capable of – such as switching between tasks quickly, remembering digits in order or reverse order, or remembering what a person says. And although cognition is not determined by education or race, it is influenced by age and improves over time from childhood, to adolescence, to adulthood.

According to Dr. Charvat, cognition is a part of you that controls many crucial aspects of your daily life – remembering what to get at the grocery store, driving a car, and even regulating your emotions and impulses. The problem is, it’s just not as obvious as some of the other medical information we monitor. “Cholesterol and blood pressure are important and you have to watch those things, but cognition is the fifth vital sign that we don’t talk about,” she states.

Cognitive function is secondary to a number of medical issues, such as depression, diabetes, trauma, and post-operation, and can remit before the more noticeable effects do. For example, if a depressed patient’s cognitive number is in the low-average range before starting medication and then is re-tested a few weeks later, the number may rise even if the patient doesn’t feel emotionally better yet. This kind of information can help prove to the patient that the treatment is, in fact, working even if they can’t see a difference yet, giving them a reason to continue treatment.

In the case of diabetes, which can also cause secondary cognitive impairment, 60% of people fail at managing their insulin. If a doctor tested their patient’s cognition and saw that he or she was in the low-average range, there may be ways they can help, such as advising the patient to set reminders or suggesting that they receive nursing support. The same can be said for postoperative or trauma patients, who may only need these extra reminders or nursing support temporarily.

Dr. Charvat believes that if every doctor tested their patients’ cognitive function, they would be able to track what is really going on in their brains.

Podcast Guest

Mylea Charvat, PhD

Mylea Charvat, PhD

Founder & CEO

Savonix

Dr. Mylea Charvat is a clinical psychologist, translational neuroscientist, and the CEO and Founder of the digital cognitive assessment company, Savonix. She specializes in working with and leading dynamic healthcare organizations looking to expand the access to and affordability of healthcare using digital tools.

Dr. Charvat founded Savonix to address a critical challenge in the health care world – how do we assess the mental health, specifically the cognitive and emotional function, of patients on a large scale despite limited dollars and insufficient numbers of trained specialists? Savonix has developed mobile tools that utilize critical cognitive data to better understand patients' health, identify those at risk and improve outcomes at the individual and systems level in healthcare.

A trained clinical psychologist with a neuro specialty, Dr. Charvat is a recognized thought leader in her field. She completed her fellowship in clinical neuroscience at Stanford School of Medicine and has been a lecturer at Stanford, the University of San Francisco and San Francisco State University. She has authored several peer reviewed articles published in well-respected mental health and neuro-imaging journals. She is a frequent guest author for the Huffington Post, has written for Tech Crunch and has appeared as a subject matter expert at multiple conferences and events, including several with The Atlantic Council.

Dr. Charvat is committed to advancing the integration of behavioral health data into mainstream health and wellness. The inspiration for Savonix came when Mylea’s husband was severely injured in a tragic accident and she experienced first-hand the difficulty in attaining the vital health data her husband needed to achieve recovery – including cognitive screening.

She realized that if access was so difficult for her, with her medical background and all of her connections, it must be virtually impossible for others with no training, expertise, or network. When she reached out to the spouses and parents of other patients, she learned that her experience was not unique and the challenges were widespread and intractable.

Dr. Charvat made the decision to walk away from over a decade of work and the prestigious career trajectory she had been pursuing to a professorship to found Savonix. She committed herself, instead, to addressing the pervasive challenges in access to neurocognitive assessments and the dire need of millions of people for regular, accessible and affordable tests.

Dr. Charvat has been honored as a leader in her field with three consecutive special contribution awards by the Veterans Health Administration and she was recently recognized as a rising woman CEO of Silicon Valley in the Huffington Post.

Previously, Dr. Charvat served as a PTSD specialist and advocate for Veterans and their health at both the VA and Stanford as well as in independent roles. She co-founded the early intervention trauma clinic in Palo Alto that still operates today and has served as a board member for Conard House, a resource provider for patients with chronic mental illness, and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.

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Healthegy Contributing Host Stephen Krupa is CEO of Healthedge, a software company focused on providing next-generation, business-transforming technology products to the healthcare payor market.

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