Entrepreneur (ŏn‘trə-prə-nûr’) n.
1. A person who organizes, operates, and assumes the risk for a business venture.
2. An individual who, rather than working as an employee, runs a small business and assumes all the risk and reward of a given business venture, idea, or good or service offered for sale.
3. Business leader and innovator of new ideas and business processes.
I guess I never really thought about it before, but I have been in the risk business for a long time. After taking a traditionally very secure route to wealth creation in becoming a physician, I became enamored with the potential to have a far more reaching, and in my personal paradigm more meaningful, contribution to health care by attempting to take on some of its biggest challenges. I knew early on in my third year of medical school, that the treatment protocols, pattern recognition, and practice guidelines frameworks absolutely essential to the practice of medicine would prove claustrophobic to my grander view of how I wanted to practice medicine.
So with some angst, I chose to leverage my chosen profession as a platform for innovation in the area of health care delivery. I developed my own personal mantra of how I wanted to spend my professional time in 2001, and it has proved surprising durable all these years (with minor modifications):
My primary professional interest is the convergence of medicine, technology, and business. For me, healthcare information technology is the nexus of these diverse interests. My professional objectives are to design, develop, and distribute healthcare technologies that enhance patient safety, increase clinical efficiency, and improve overall quality of care. However, technology is only the enabler of the wider reform movement that must take place in order to revolutionize the healthcare industry. Crossover Health is dedicated to ensuring that these technologies are effectively applied to health care delivery in order to revolutionize global health.
Pretty tall order, but personally attractive because my day to day grind of work transforms into a life long passion to apply innovation, entrepreneurship, leadership, and the capitalistic knack for overcoming the impossible by doing the improbable. I truly love disruptive models and category creation that challenges the status quo through the introduction of new paradigms, improved models, and better outcomes. This penchant for entrepreneurism is a cumulative effect of a lifetime of experiences that have aggregated to inform my current worldview and spur me on my own personal entrepreneurial journey.
Several critical decision points have happened along my route (think Chesire Cat):
- First, was the decision to NOT take the plunge as I was graduating from my residency in June 2001 into an opportunity with Garage.com (I was being considered for a position to lead their health sciences team – just months before the May bubble bursting phenomenon began). While this job eventually did not pan out, I was still very close to moving down to Silicon Valley to look for work with a VC fund. I chose instead to finish my licensure examinations, get my board certification, and get some practical experience in the ER.
- The Second fateful decision was the decision to leave my partnership track ER position in Tucson to take the plunge in formation and creation of Medsphere in June of 2002. It took me six additional months to extricate from my other commitments, but I walked away from a guaranteed $500K/annual salary to pursue a totally risky venture on a little startup with no funding, no hopes of funding, and a very uncertain future. The early years at Medsphere were the stuff of legends: the late nights, the endless presentations, the crazy experiences, the first of several rounds of funding, the growth, the first customer wins and constantly doing the impossible. The later years were fraught with challenges, managing the growth, adding talent, trying to get people to understand our model, the ultimate meltdown, and surviving the legal gauntlet (the company, gratefully, continues to move forward).
- The Third fateful decision was made on December 1, 2007 when I accepted an offer to become an entrepreneur in residence (EIR) with Lemhi Ventures. This is the new center of health care innovation headed up by the visionary Tony Miller, and several of his talented Definity Health team members including Jodi Hubler, Randy Schmidt, and Tom Stroh. The fund is solely focused on health care delivery and health care services innovations. Several of the early investments have a legitimate shot at become major disruptions in their own right. I was introduced to Lemhi through Peter Bridges (thanks Vijay), who despite my initial snarky response to him as a VC, has proved to be like minded sojourner passionate about reforming our current healthcare delivery model. I truly look forward to working with this innovative group on solving some of the biggest challenges in the health care hairball (we should start with: Is it healthcare or health care?!)
As part of my EIR work, I have been commissioned to figure out how to create Health Plan 2.0. This is a natural extension of all my work I have been doing in attempting to Redefine Healthcare by focusing on consumer value. We will be evaluating the technology platform requirements, the product mix, the service experience, the ability to create different types of networks, how to aggregate consumers in new ways, and different ways we can market and sell this concept. This effort will be accretive to all the work I have done under the Crossover Health banner, including new concepts around Health Care FICO scores, utilization of genomics/proteonomics, new concepts of risk, convergence of health and wealth, new constructs of risk securitization, and a host of other concepts to be brought together and “marketized.”
Would love to hear from you as we are in the research and analysis phase. Would be interested to understand how you are approaching the challenges of transitioning current concepts of health plans/health insurance into next generation health services company. Hope to use this forum to communicate the view from the trail . . .
Should be a quite a ride!