Doctors are overwhelmed with data. They spend 12% of their time looking up clinical data when they could be seeing patients and still information gets missed. In fact, the IOM has identified untimely access to clinical data as a leading contributor to the 3rd leading cause of death in the US: medical errors. Existing information systems and electronic medical records are better optimized for billing and documentation than they
are for making care safer. There has to be a better way.
Written with my friend and co-founder of Symcat, David.
We are residents and a software developers. Before starting residency, we spent time as software developers in the startup community. We were witness to tremendous enthusiasm directed at solving problems and engaging people in their health. The number of startups trying to disrupt healthcare using data and technology has grown dramatically and every day established healthcare companies appear eager to feed this frenzy through App and Design Competitions.
Continue reading The Non-Physician’s Guide to Hacking the Health Care System on THCB.
Startups are hard. There’s no book. Or are there too many books? If you’re like me, you wind up feeling like you need to learn everything for yourself. That you have to “touch the stove” to know it’s hot.
It can be time consuming to learn Everything There is to Know, so instead we gravitate towards principle, heuristics, or rules of thumb. A set of heuristics are based on specific numbers–Magic Numbers. They can be used as signposts to guide decision-making where uncertainty otherwise prevails.
Several Magic Numbers frequently come up for me: 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, and 10,000. Why are they so magical? I’ll tell you.
Continue reading Magic Numbers for Startups on the Symcat blog.
Last week I included my answers to several questions I was asked as part of an interview for The Doctor’s Channel about entrepreneurship as a medical student. You can read that post at Starting a company as a medical student: Part 1.
This week I will finish the 2-part series with answers to the questions:
- How did your school admin respond to your request to take a year off for your start-up?
- How did you juggle the challenges of running a business with the rigor of being a medical student?
- What are some of the skills/lessons you’ve learned while running a business that a typical student would never even think of?
- How do you see your decision to launch a business in medical school influencing your future career (residency application, specialty choice, lifestyle, etc.)?
Continue reading Starting a Company as a Medical Student: Part 2 on the Symcat blog.
We were recently asked by The Doctor’s Channel to share some of our thoughts about being an entrepreneur while in medical school and how that came about. It’s not easy to take the plunge into starting a business with so much medical training already behind you and so much to go.
Here our some of my answers the the questions we are typically asked about starting Symcat while in medical school. Since there are a lot, I’m splitting it up into a two-part series. This week I will be answering
- Did you have prior experience in business/start-ups before launching your own?
- Before you started medical school, did you have any feeling that you would be starting a business while still in school?
- At what point did you start thinking your idea could be scaled from just your school to medical schools across the US?
- Can you tell me how you made the tough decision of taking time off from school and the different pros/cons you weighed?
Continue reading Starting a Company as a Medical Student: Part 1 on the Symcat blog.
I am frequently asked about the “A-ha” moment that led to the creation of Symcat. This is frustrating because I usually have to make something up about an apple falling on my head or a dream about a snake. People generally think of ideas as spontaneous, as not existing one moment and existing the next. But Symcat has taught me that they are wrong.
About 5 years ago, I started a notebook of random ideas for products and technologies I wanted to develop further. My (rather uninspired) titles included “Website for creating prediction markets,” “computer simulation of viral news spread,” and “HUD built for smartphone.” Original, right? They were the idea du jour brought on by whatever I happened to be reading or thinking of at the moment. They were definitely not bolts of insight that immediately and obviously led to the creation of a company.
Continue reading The Myth of the “A-ha” Moment on the Symcat blog.
If you’re like me, you’re extremely excited about the potential for design to reshape health care. I’m not talking health care system redesign (ACOs and such–though that’s great too), I’m talking about the type of design you see on Dribbble: the focus of a recent (awesome) HHS-sponsored competition.
One of the promising upstarts of health care re-design was a 2-year-old-or-so startup called Massive Health founded by ex-Mozillite Aza Raskin. Though I tend towards the skeptical, there was a part of me that thought that not only were they on to something, but they clearly had managed to aggregate real design talent. And in health care, no less! Apparently, I was not the only one as they convinced a number of investors to throw $2.25 million in to test out what they could do.
Continue reading What Does the Massive Health Acquisition Really Mean? on the Symcat blog.
I am appreciative for the opportunity to share alongside David some of my journeys in conceiving of and building Symcat during the Johns Hopkins Informatics Grand Rounds. In it, we talk about some of the history of decision support, the technology behind Symcat, and some additional points about entrepreneurship and web development that excite us.
- video of the presentation
As exciting as the digital health space is right now, there is still little guidance or validated path to getting off the ground. As part of an effort to help aspiring health care entrepreneurs, I’ll be writing a series of posts explaining some of the decisions we made for Symcat. It hasn’t been a year since we’ve started, but my hope is that our few months of experience can help those who are just getting started themselves.
One of the questions I’m most frequently asked is if our time at Blueprint Health, a health start-up accelerator, was worth it. To participate, the program requires 3 months of relocation to the NYC offices in SoHo and the forfeiture of a nearly 6% equity stake in the company. The program basically offers $20k, mentorship from its network, and office space. A few other health start-up accelerators (ie Rock Health, Healthbox) have some variations but basically the same theme. They are all very selective accepting 3-5% of applicants. While it’s nice to be accepted, there’s still the important matter of deciding if it is right for you.
Continue reading Blueprint Health Startup Accelerator: Was it Worth it? on the Symcat blog.