GIBLIB is a Los Angeles based startup that partners with premier hospitals and physicians across the country to provide in-detail medical lectures and surgical procedures to medical students on-demand. I sat down with Brian Conyer, CEO and Founder, to discuss GIBLIB’s growth and new approach to educating medical students.
Traditional Medical Education
The path to becoming a licensed physician is cumbersome and costly. The traditional means of studying and building a medical skill set often involves the analysis of dense textbook material and learning from mentor physician who may not be able to provide valuable time to a student. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for physicians who are required to learn a new surgical technique or skill to sacrifice time and funds to travel to a medical conference far from their practices.
What if a medical student does not have a physician to shadow? What if a physician does not have the time to spare from his or her patients?
GIBLIB brings the valuable experience that a person would get from learning from experts, directly to their screen. Instead of having to land a residency or traveling long distances to learn a brand-new technique, a GIBLIB user is effortlessly able to choose from over 1000 medical videos and virtual reality content, split between lectures and surgical procedures. The platform caters to an expansive list of medical specializations, including, but not limited to, neuro, vascular, orthopedic, pediatric, and general surgery. The ability to observe real-time surgical procedures, especially in VR format, is virtually unavailable in today’s market; options which have historically been available have in most cases included animation-based training modules and conferences put on by medical societies and academic medical centers.
What virtual reality surgery looks like on the website
The resources that GIBLIB provides, however, according to Conyer, are “not a replacement by any means, but more of a complement” to traditional medical education. As opposed to the usual ways of how physicians learn their craft, through medical school, academic conferences, or having to physically go to an operating room to view a procedure, GIBLIB offers “a more modern way of reaching a bigger audience.”
“Video is great because it is scalable, cost-effective, and you can repurpose it and update it consistently. The medical community has lacked that and I saw this being in that industry.”
– Brian Conyer, Founder and CEO
Live stream of a hernia surgery in 360
The Medical Education Market
The core market for medical education is strong and growing in the US. According to a US Census conducted in 2016, the number of enrolled medical students was 88,304 and the number of licensed physicians was 953,695. Students and physicians actively need to learn new medical techniques and skills throughout their careers as technology and medical understanding develop, which means this demographic is an incredibly loyal and dependent consumer base.
The existing routes that a medical student or physician can take to educate themselves are either by attending distanced and expensive medical conferences, utilizing existing medical literature, or through online course learning platforms such as Lynda, Udacity, and Coursera. These platforms rely heavily on animation based medical education, rather than real-life footage. The differentiating characteristic of GIBLIB, however, is that their content takes video form, which makes the education more engaging and realistic.
The government also has a large hand in educating the nation’s physicians. With regards to residency training, hospitals that teach incur more than $17 billion a year, $3.5 billion of which is supplied by Medicare. Therefore, the increasing privatization of medical education means less financial stress on the taxpayer and the country’s hospitals.
From Robotics Instructor to Entrepreneur
From left to right: Jeff Loo, Brian Conyer, Jihye Shin
The idea behind GIBLIB was the byproduct of a founder with years of medical experience under his belt, and a recognition of a flaw in the way the medical community is educated today. Brian Conyer, who has roughly 10 years of experience in the medical ecosystem, found the inspiration for GIBLIB when working at a surgical robotics company, Intuitive Surgical. Part of his job at this company was to train physicians in how to use the robots to perform surgery. He explained that this process involved a “learning curve,” where they had to travel all over the US to expert surgeons to demonstrate how to use the robot, and everybody would “just watch.”
Conyer realized that instead of pursuing these expensive and time-consuming educational circuits around the country, the whole process could “save time and money had we just watched a video.”
While working in the medical field, Conyer built a business acumen at the USC Marshall School of Business and caught the entrepreneurial bug. After realizing what the medical community lacked and that he had an interest in tech, entrepreneurship, and content creation, he quit his job in the medical field and sought out his co-founder, Jihye Shin. Shin, who was also a USC business school student and graduated before Conyer arrived to USC, has experience in digital content creation at Paramount Pictures. With Conyer’s medical knowledge and Shin’s content distribution expertise, they combined forces to create GIBLIB, where they could utilize the “best practices in entertainment of how you create and distribute content.”
“Lib is techy shorthand for library. Gib is named after legendary doctor, Dr. John Gibbon. He changed the game for open heart lung surgery, and if he had a platform similar to this one he would have been able to train physicians all over the world and would have saved many lives.”
– Brian Conyer, Founder and CEO
How GIBLIB Plans to Expand its Vision
Since their founding in 2016, GIBLIB’s momentum has been notable. They have closed two rounds of funding, the last round being a seed round, and have partnered with some of the top medical institutions in the country, including the Association for Surgical Education, the USC Keck School of Medicine, and the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. One of the biggest reasons for their success can undoubtedly be attributed to these partnerships the company has landed; without the assistance of these institutions, GIBLIB would not have the valuable content it distributes and the sound reputation it has carried so far, which has enabled the company to land institutional subscriptions for its students at various medical centers and schools.
In the near future, GIBLIB seeks to accredit its content as CME (Continuing Medical Education). This would mean that as physicians watch their videos, they could get credit towards their licenses and would not have to travel to medical conferences to learn new techniques. This alternative, if accredited, would offer a huge benefit to both GIBLIB’s subscriber base and to physicians alike.
GIBLIB also hopes to branch out their distributed content. Although the website currently solely offers surgical videos and medical lectures, Conyer hopes to “release content across all specialties,” eventually catering to “nursing, ancillary staff, surgical technologists,” and anyone else who desires additional educational material.
“Big picture, we want to be a household name when it comes to the medical community in terms of anything video related. Eventually going from educating doctors and nurses to patient education.”
– Brian Conyer, Founder and CEO
To achieve their desired growth, GIBLIB will be faced with many challenges, some of which are start-up related. The GIBLIB team is relatively small, and given the lofty ambition that the company has, the lean company will have to work efficiently. Conyer emphasizes that one of the biggest obstacles for GIBLIB is finding the best people possible to join the team, but that he and the team “prides ourselves on the talent we’ve brought in.”