30 Best Leaders to Watch 2021

In a Conversation with Philip Choban, Telios Care S.A. Co-Founder and CEO: ‘Our Mission is to Promote a New Philosophy of Health, where Control over Health Decisions Belongs to Each of Us’


“We work with industry leaders to provide integrated services. From insurers to businesses and benefit providers, we have developed a vast network of reliable partners.”

Telios Care S.A. is a Romanian life-style and telehealth company. Over the years, it has made telehealth, including telemedicine more accessible to beneficiaries, providing digital solutions for healthcare professionals. Today, the company’s healthcare services are available to beneficiaries of large and small organizations in areas such as retail, IT, manufacturing, transportation, selected insurers, and pharmacies.

Telios Care was incorporated in 2017 and is headquartered in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

Philip Choban, Telios Care S.A. Co-founder and CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. What are the different challenges addressed by Telios Care?

‘Telehealth, wellness, telemedicine’ are new terms for most of us. It is the process of using digital technology (ex: phone, video, online) to foster healthcare interactions that improve a patient’s health and well-being status. As we all can agree, the ‘phone’ sitting in your pocket right now has radically altered the way we do life, and now it is changing the way we do health and wellness care. What was once only a ‘cell phone’ is now a shopping cart, credit card, bank account, calendar, encyclopedia, phone book, game system, flashlight, camera, and more. This now-ubiquitous device has become a medical clinic and a new access point to healthcare and wellness.

Telios can provide patients 24/7 access to doctors and other healthcare specialists by telephone and video with its proprietary technology platform. The board-certified Telios physicians and other professionals speak directly with the patient and diagnose and prescribe treatment for the patient. The Telios patient portal also gives patients the ability to directly securely message any of 21 different Telios medical specialty teams, including pediatricians, dermatologists, psychologists, and many more. Patients can include attachments allowing the Telios online specialists to view pictures, lab results, x-rays, patient records, etc. Whether a major health episode or a simple curiosity, patients can ask whatever they want, whenever they want, and always get a personal answer from the Telios medical professional. Providing the most comprehensive telemedicine solution in Romania, no other company can match Telios in the various ways its members can access medical professionals or its breadth of available specialists, all with the highest degree of service and confidentiality.

Q. Health care costs have witnessed a sharp increase in price over the last few years. Employers may find this to be a costly affair, making financial planning extremely difficult. How can we overcome this?

In Romania, healthcare has been mostly provided by the state system. It is only in recent years that the private system has grown to the point of recognition and is in competition with the state. Most employers now offer access to two very different systems; one is access to a series of privately branded clinics that provide a monthly subscription and cover from basic needs to more sophisticated needs, depending on the subscription price. These plans often result in an out of pocket cost for the end-user. The second is providing health insurance that covers one's basic needs, covers more severe cases and hospitalization. These insurance plans come with little or no co-pay and normally result in a yearly rate increase to the employer. In any case, both of these plans come with an uncapped liability regarding rate increases to the employer. This situation can only be overcome by offering innovative solutions that go hand-in-hand with these plans.

Q. Striking the right balance between lowering costs and enabling healthy decision-making can be a challenge for employers. Do you help employers in achieving better cost management?

We do not only help employers but also take care of their employees. Our platform is an encompassing one with a large variety of health and wellness specialties. We not only take care of the physical but the mental. Cost management is a broad term and should never be considered the only factor when a discussion is started. This management can include not only the hard cost of a contract but should always include the soft cost, which quickly equates to cost savings for not only the employer but also the employee. When discussing cost management, this should always include everything mentioned above. This is what really equates to ROI. Telios has achieved a ranking in the marketplace that is difficult to replicate through its combination of hard and soft value.

Q. What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business’ success?

By far, the most influential factor in my life that has led to overall satisfaction and success was the ten years that I spent being a caregiver to my wife ‘Carmen’ who lived with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. During my prime earning and innovative years, my attention was turned to her. Health, well-being, companionship, getting through each day, and looking forward to the next were my time's total consumption. There was no time to think of me and my future, as she was my future for the remainder of her years. This was a life-changing experience that changed my whole perspective on what counts for each one of us. Doing what is right and what is needed is far ahead of monetary factors. Money comes when your motives are correctly positioned.

Q. What other leaders do you look up to, and why?

One leader that has stuck in my mind for years is Jerome H. Stone. Jerome was the founder and leader of the American Alzheimer’s Association, dying at 101 in 2015. He led the Association since its formation in 1980 up until almost his dying day. The Alzheimer’s Association was formed out of Jerome's experience with his wife, who lived with this horrible disease. Taking what was once a stigma and turning it into a national and international awareness level was brought on by necessity and inspiration.

The other leader that catapulted me forward by his tenacity and vision is George Vradenburg, the founder of the ‘US Against Alzheimer’s’. Taking what was once a disease that was low on the government radar and making it a priority throughout the years is a crowning achievement. It takes a vision to begin the blueprint that then leads to the construction. George was the match that lit the fire, along with his wife Trish, who has since passed away. 

Q. If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting, what would it be?

Early into my career, I met a man who would soon become a mentor to me and impart a great amount of wisdom. One piece of wisdom that has stayed with me is this: ‘’There are two types of people in this world: givers and those that are takers. If you are a taker, you will always take and not realize anything different. If you are a giver, you will give without expecting anything in return. If one day, you do receive something in return, then it is a gift from God.’’ Giving is good, and when you least expect it, a reward comes.

Q. What do you think is the most memorable moment in your career?

This is a question that I get quite often, and the answer is surprising to a lot of people. A number of years back, a medical student (Robert), approached me to take part in a conference that is part of the Medical Schools in Romania. The name of this is H.E.A.R.T. or Health Education and Research Talks. My first talk was on Alzheimer’s disease and how to train a medical specialist in this field. Being a Certified Care Specialist put me on the cutting edge of an area that few knew about. One conference led into another, and then l was asked to speak on telemedicine and its place in the overall healthcare picture. This opportunity to open young minds and explore new and innovative ways was a great part of my life. The ultimate moment of all this was in 2017 when I was named the Ambassador of this association; besides, my study on Alzheimer’s was included in the curriculum for the doctors of Romania's future.

“We eliminate long waits and doctor visits that make you feel like on the production line.”