About Lisa Suennen
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- From Russia With Love
- The Secret to Lower Healthcare Costs: Dying Faster
- You Say You Want a Healthcare Revolution
- We Are the 51%!
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- Rap Genius: Healthcare to a Hip Hop Beat?
- When “Cloud-based” Means Technology, Not Heaven: Report from AARP Health Innovation@50+
- A Tale of Two Doctor Visits
- Your CEO May Be A Man, But Your Healthcare Customer is a Woman
- Healthcare IT BINGO!
- I’m On A Boat! The Rising Fleet of Incubators
- Employers and Health Innovation: Will They Go Long or Advance One Yard at a Time?
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- What’s Done Cannot Be Undone
- And It Begins at the Airport…
- The Employee Benefits Times, They Are A’Changin’
- HIT Bingo – A Reprise for HIMSS 2014
- Encore Entrepreneurs: They’re Older and They Have More Insurance
- In New York, You’ve Got to Have All the Luck
- It’s Uber for [Insert Noun Here}
- The Magazine Stand, and Some Medical Comedy Relief to Boot
- What the World Needs Now is (probably not) a Pill for Perfect Pitch
- The Wearable di Tutti Wearables
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Author Archives: Lisa Suennen
And it begins at the airport. I am making what has become my third annual pilgrimage to South by Southwest (SXSW) to judge a healthcare startup program in the SXSW Interactive Accelerator and I find that the all-consuming techno-weenie goofiness that envelops Austin for SXSW has spread, germ-like, to Virgin America gate 54B at SFO. There at the gate is a huge display of free cupcakes and nerd glasses with an ad for what I can only surmise is the newest extra-marital-activity-while-you-are-on-the-road-pre-planning-app called HereOnBiz.
Contrary to my first impression, HereOnBiz is not intended (or at least is not marketed) as “Tinder for people who carry laptops.” Rather it is being promoted as an app that lets you find people who are in your social networking universe who might happen to be nearby or on your flight. It also lets you shop from the others on your flight whom you do not already know in order to find that very special someone who might be your next source of funding or fondling, depending on your predilections. For the moment, HereOnBiz is the purveyor of very popular free cupcakes
Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’
-Opening lines to Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A’Changin’
An article in HIX/Health Insurance Exchange newsletter last week quoted an Aon study saying that more than 33% of companies will put their employees into private health insurance exchanges in the next few years; ; 66% would put their retirees into these exchanges in the next few years; and, 38% of the companies would offer no benefits to part-time workers within the next three to five years. On top of that, Aon found that 5% of the companies surveyed may drop employee health-care coverage in the next three to five years, an increase from 1% now.
A quote from the article: “Employers are telling us they are losing confidence in their traditional approaches, like vendor changes or employee cost-sharing,” which only deliver “incremental” improvement, Jim Winkler, Aon’s chief
I’m not attending HIMSS this year, electing instead to keep my sanity. or what’s left of it. In honor of the old-school nerd-fest to which all my intrepid friends will venture this coming week, I have decided to reprise an old blog favorite, HIT Bingo, which I wrote back in 2012.
So HIMSS attendees, here are your instructions: print out the bingo card below and pick any random aisle in the exhibit hall. If you haven’t yelled BINGO! within 30 feet of starting down the aisle, you’re just not paying close enough attention to the marketing chatter all around you.
Even though I wrote the post below nearly two years ago, it occurs to me that the buzzwords from then are pretty much the same now, except “mhealth” has been transformed into “digital health.” Additionally, the words “transparency” and, god help me, “curate” are missing. The former we will no doubt be hearing more about as government moves to compel providers to publish their prices. The latter makes me downright nauseous, it being fairly pretentious and nearly as bad as “ecosystem,” as in “let’s curate the content in our ecosystem.”
OK, I want you to take a quick test and answer the question with the first thing that comes to mind: What does a “start-up entrepreneur” look like? OK, do you have a picture in your mind?
If you are like most people, I bet your first thought was someone who looks suspiciously like a white male 20-something in a blue hoodie, torn jeans and ironically unhip tennis shoes. And if you stroll through the “typical” tech or health IT startup in Silicon Valley, that is exactly what you see, although there may be a few females sprinkled in. The young entrepreneur’s natural habitat is often portrayed as a landscape of garages and loft-like spaces with exposed pipe architecture. Decorations run to also-ironic old band posters (Rolling Stones or Elvis Costello especially popular), abandoned pizza cartons and discarded Red Bull cans aimed poorly at garbage can baskets. People tend to equate entrepreneurship with youth who have a wanton willingness to show the world how they are all doing it wrong while yelling “Cowabunga” and launching into the high risk abyss unencumbered. A couple of years ago PayPal founder and now
“In New York you’ve got to have all the luck.”– Charles Bukowski
I was in NY two weeks ago and ended up at a NYC Health Business Leaders event put on by Bunny Ellerin that I hadn’t planned to attend. I was invited by my comrade-in-arms, Milena Adamian and was so glad I went. I got to see a ton of old friends and make some new ones and hear a really interesting panel that had 5 investors on the one hand, and an audience of about 100 on the other hand, both weighing in on what’s hot and what’s not on the healthcare investment front.
The panel itself included 5 investors: my friends Bijan Salihizedah of Navimed and Max Kahn of Merck GHI were there, as were Cecilia Gonzalo of Essex Woodlands, Phillipe Chambon of New Leaf Ventures and Brad Weinberg from Blueprint Health. Lots of investment experience was represented, as well as broad experience from the many healthcare sectors.
The audience included a pretty eclectic mix of investors, entrepreneurs, advisory folks, corporate representatives, even some non-profit healthcare people. Pretty much every sector of healthcare was represented
Okay, I get it. Uber is uber-cool. You call, a car shows up where you are in a few minutes and takes you where you want to go. Good stuff, love using it.
But now, suddenly, Uber is the uber-metaphor for startups, particularly in healthcare. Everyone has a story about how their company is “Uber, but for [fill in blank].” The latest I saw (courtesy of Paul Sonnier’s very valuable Story of Digital Health site) is “uber for doctors” or actually if the story were more accurate, “uber for rich guys who need doctors at their houses stat.”
A few weeks ago I saw a company that was “uber, but for massage therapists,“ a so-called healthcare company for people who need a massage at home right this damn second (yeah, I know, I thought the same thing you are currently thinking about this concept). I have seen “uber for medical device delivery to hospitals” and “uber for prescription refills” and an uber-large number of others that I can’t even remember because my brain is uber-overloaded with uber metaphors, or is it similes? I can’t remember. Now
I’ve been traveling a lot the last few weeks and so have had ample opportunity to read questionable magazines that I pick up in lieu of reading things that will make me smarter. People Magazine is definitely a brain cell killer, although one of my faves. Rolling Stone has the occasional really smart article, but I read it mainly for street cred. I could read the JAMA issue I have shoved in my briefcase but I wouldn’t want to wake it up.
Last week I picked up Time Magazine’s big fat glossy “100 New Health Discoveries” issue, now on news stands. it is 112 pages of “the latest breakthroughs that can improve your health and wellness,” all packaged up for a consumer audience, which I thought very interesting. There are some pretty sophisticated thoughts in this booklet, considering it was sitting between Us Magazine (favorite headline this week: Jessica Alba: My Daughter Ate Her Diaper When She Was A Baby) and Sports Illustrated’s Pre-Sochi Olympics issue, complete with lycra-clad ski hottie on the cover. It’s a big risk to think that people would actually pay $13 for this special
Note: this post also ran today in Xconomy.
I remember seeing an episode of Desperate Housewives during the show’s first season called Running to Stand Still. In the episode, Lynette, working mom of many, takes her kid’s ADD medicine in order to be supermom and create costumes for the school play while balancing all of her other tasks. It was a classic self-prescribed “off label use” for a drug intended for a serious medical condition but used instead to improve a desired skill to improve performance.
I don’t know why that particular episode stuck with me; I think it was because I could relate to that feeling of wanting a magic pill to make me perform better as a working mom, a job whose description always includes being overwhelmed by more tasks than you can handle, amplified by guilt. How tempting it is to think that a pill, even one with potentially serious side effects, can solve a short-term problem and make you look like a champion.
That TV show episode came back to me this week when I read an article about scientists exploring the use of
I am clearly on a digital health kick, blog-wise, as I look back on my last few posts. Having spent time at both CES and the JP Morgan Healthcare conference, where digital health was a hot topic, it seems that the subsector is definitely having its day in the sun. I was particularly honored to be named among the 2013 “Top 50 in Digital Health” by a group comprised of Rock Health, Goldman Sachs, Silicon Valley Bank, and Fenwick & West. There are some pretty smart people on the list with me and it is very gratifying to be in such great company (nice article about the list by Wade Roush at Xconomy can be read HERE).
On the other hand, I was feeling a little inadequate being on the list without my own digital health start-up to show for it. I mean, hey, there I am among the actual innovators who dreamed up such cool companies as MC10, Evolent, Pokitdok, Athena Health, and a host of others with only my investment checkbook and blog to show for it. Given that it is the year
Today I was reading one of MedCity News’ wrap up articles from the JP Morgan Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Healthcare Circus, which is just folding up tent in San Francisco. Everyone was here: the elephants, the clowns, the whole magilla, as my mom used to say. Also there were lots of great people who I was so happy to see and gorgeous weather and way too many middle-aged white dudes in blue and/or gray suits. Diversity at the JP Morgan conference basically means middle-aged white dudes in brown suits. FYI, for those keeping track, purple ties are in.
Anyway, the reporter in the MedCity News article was enumerating some of the alleged insights she heard at the conference and among them was this one meant specifically for digital health companies:
“In the early stages, revenue is a trap.”
The person who said this, an entrepreneur running a digital health company, added that, “digital health startups can do themselves a disservice if they become consumed with how to generate revenue. Their focus should be on how to attract users and produce data that shows their technology not only works,