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TECH: CDHCC Conf. Report Esther Dyson on start ups

I’ll be dipping in and out of the CDHCC conference. Yesterday I popped in to remind Esther Dyson that we’d met 10 years ago, but now just know each other via email. (She emailed me during someone else’s talk to tell me to pay attention to it!) Esther didn’t really have a prepared talk—she’d been spending her time going weightless like one of those astronauts in training. She basically said that start-ups had to be realistic and very focused.

I asked her what VCs should be investing in. She suggested management of the chronically ill, such as compliance reminders, and products for women and family aimed at pregnant women and those with newborns.

Given that she’s spending a lot of time holding conferences on personal health records, Esther was asked about her vision for them….but more interesting was who was going to win. She said health plans were not trusted. We need something like banking system. She thinks that employers might be the driver of this. They’re well positioned to be the key. In the end its the consumer who has access, they’ll assign permission to providers and insurers to access that record. Each patient will have broad records, that will cut out lots of inefficiency, and pay up quicker. Then add data for researchers which will improve health care, even without changes in legislation.

Other interesting mentions; she’s getting involved in the open genome project. Genetic information is being put online. Esther will be one of the first to put her genes online. Esther realizes that this is a big political mess. (Perhaps we need an ICANN for health care). She said that we need to be clearer about how we ration things. But she didn’t really follow up on that.

Other talks—CEO of Healthline, the reborn Yourdoctor.com, and Intermap systems spent a while telling us how his search engine was better than everyone else’s. He might have noted that his site is only #7 when you do a Google search on the name, so perhaps the bug guys are scared of him! This is a third time restart for this technology and it’s pretty interesting, so maybe this will work out now. $42m in so far, though!

Ryan Phelan, ex Direct Medical Knowledge (which was basically PlaneTree online) had $5m investment in that and sold it to WebMD for $65m about 25 minutes later….instead of lying around on the beach drinking Krug (well maybe after a few years of that), she’s now started DNA Direct, which is aiming to be a consumer friendly hub for genetic testing. I thought that the presentation was succinct and that she may well have a real long term business model.

Today I’ll be dipping in some more. Pity Reggie is on before I get out of bed!

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Matthew –i’m glad you were paying attention to my talk about DNA Direct…but for the record– it was hardly 25 minutes of effort that went into DMK– try 4 years and a lot of hard effort put in by a great team of people.