When I was 13 years old, the Altair 8800 appeared on the cover of Popular Electronics. By 16, I was building enough hardware and software that I achieved the Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hours of competency by age 18. By 19, I founded a company that produced tax calculation software for the Kaypro, Osborne, and new IBM PC. Every week in the Silicon Valley of the early 1980’s brought a new startup into the nascent desktop computer industry.
To me, we’re in a similar era – a perfect storm for innovation fueled by several factors. Young entrepreneurs are identifying problems to be rapidly solved by evolving technologies in an economy where existing “old school” businesses are offering few opportunities.
This morning, I lectured to an entire classroom of MIT Sloan school entrepreneurs . Today the Boston Globe published articles about the Harvard Innovation Lab and the Mayor’s efforts to connect entrepreneurial students with mentors.
Tonight I’ll introduce a Harvard Medical School entrepreneurial team at the Boston TechStars event.
This pace of innovation reminds of that time 30 years ago when Sand Hill Road was just beginning its evolution to the hotbed of venture investing it is today.
Who are these new entrepreneurs and what kind of work are they doing? Tonight I’ll be introducing Lissy Hu and Gretchen Fuller.
Lissy Hu is passionate about helping patients find the right care. Her clinical experiences at leading Boston and New York hospitals have shown her first-hand the frustrations her patients and their families face when finding after-care. Lissy previously worked on a Medicare demonstration project involving transitions in care for 3,000 medically-complex patients. She is currently on-leave from the Harvard Medical School and Harvard Business School joint-degree program. Lissy hopes to leverage her clinical and business insights to engage in social entrepreneurship and tackle healthcare’s most challenging problems. Lissy graduated from Columbia University Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude, and with Honors in her major.
Gretchen Fuller is committed to improving healthcare quality and communication amongst providers and patients. At Harvard Medical School, she co-directed a student group (Improvehealthcare.org) dedicated to improving medical school education on healthcare policy: this organization was responsible for creating course material that is now part of a mandatory Health Policy course. She spent the last year spearheading three healthcare quality investigations at 5 hospitals in Buenos Aires, Argentina, including projects on problematic patient handoffs, barriers to the use of surgical checklists, and medical school curricula on patient safety. Gretchen graduated Cum Laude in Biology at Harvard University, where she also captained the Division I Field Hockey team.
They will be presenting CarePort, a software startup improving patient transitions from hospitals to post-acute care providers though an easy-to-use online booking engine.
As I know well from my mother’s recent hip fracture, many patients require additional care after a hospital stay. The current process of discharging patients to post-hospital care providers is complex, confusing, and cumbersome. Careport connects patients, hospitals, and care facilities directly. Patients and their families, along with hospitals, can search for care facilities that meet their clinical needs and book reservations immediately. Careport also tracks patient care in the hospital and post-acute care settings and communicates critical clinical information back to primary caregivers, thereby ensuring effective care coordination. Careport identifies variables driving medical complications, readmissions, and patient satisfaction.
I am convinced that Meaningful Use Stage 2, with its focus on increased interoperability, and Meaningful Use Stage 3, with its proposed enhancements to patient and family engagement, will accelerate the demand for products like Careport. Modular certification will make it much easier for young entrepreneurs to make their products part of the physician and hospital software set used for attestation.
It’s an exciting time to watch the creativity of the next generation fixing healthcare. With Techstars, Rock Health, Healthbox and other incubators/accelerators combined with Datapaloozas and innovation competitions, I’m convinced the breakthroughs we need in healthcare process improvement will be invented by the twenty-somethings and not mid career professionals in established companies.
So immerse yourself in advising and mentoring these people. Tonight, I will be.
John D. Halamka, MD, MS, is Chief Information Officer of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Chief Information Officer at Harvard Medical School, Chairman of the New England Healthcare Exchange Network (NEHEN), Co-Chair of the HIT Standards Committee, a full Professor at Harvard Medical School, and a practicing Emergency Physician. He’s also the author of the popular Life as a Healthcare CIO blog.