Extended interview with Indu Subaiya
By Lisa Spellman, Founder, Rapid Creek Group LLC (email@example.com)
HIT-IQ is pleased to feature profiles of thought-leading entrepreneurs in each issue. For our first issue, I had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Indu Subaiya, EVP of Health 2.0 which is a new HIMSS Business Unit formed in the recent acquisition of Health 2.0 by HIMSS.
Indu, congratulations on the new relationship with HIMSS and changing future for Health 2.0. Please tell us about your entrepreneurial journey and the formation of Health 2.0.
People might be surprised to know that Health 2.0 began as an accidental company. My co-founder and Health 2.0 co-chairman Matthew Holt and I met in 2006 around our common interest in how Web 2.0 (as it was called at the time) and user-generated content would impact healthcare, social connectivity, and social sharing using the internet.
The first early online health communities were happening, and it can be hard to remember that this was a radical (and to some, scary notion) that patients and consumers could use the internet to connect with each other and begin to disintermediate (another new term that was appeared around this time) care providers. We were intrigued and wanted to know where this could go, so we took a chance on the notion that many others were equally fascinated and would pay to attend a small meeting of like-minded individuals to talk with and hear from technology innovators who were building solutions to leverage the internet as a new disintermediating tool.
We scheduled the first Health 2.0 conference “User Generated Healthcare” in September 2007 in San Francisco with the hope that maybe 100 people would register so that we would not lose our shirts on what was probably a one-time experiment. Well, what happened still amazes me to this day. With virtually no paid promotion (because we had limited funds and were new at this) over 500 people registered and the event was a sold-out success. Right away, we knew we had a new business, so we incorporated the conference as a company, took the leap, quit our jobs and started on our entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us about some of the new plans underway. What does the transition into HIMSS mean for the HIT investment and entrepreneurial community?
To tie into the earlier question about Health 2.0 evolution and our recent HIMSS merger, Health 2.0 will use the HIMSS platform to support the founding and maturity of emerging technologies.
We will be hosting the Health 2.0 Annual Meeting in Santa Clara California and a Health 2.0 Program in San Francisco during the JP Morgan week January 10, 2018. These meetings, in addition to offering the exceptional education, collaboration and networking opportunities for which Health 2.0 is renown will build toward the HIMSS Annual Conference March 5-9, 2018 in Las Vegas.
We are very excited to share news about the expansion of the HIMSS Venture Forum – now rebranded as HIMSS Venture Connect – from what in the past has been a one-day activity to 2018 which will be a week of terrific focused activities to open new networking and collaboration opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors.
We are adding a new program Market Connect. Market Connect will do just that: connect healthcare organizations that want to integrate, implement or acquire specific types of emerging technologies with the emerging businesses that are developing these new approaches. The vetting and curation in advance of the event enhance the potential and value of the meetings for both on the show floor and pitch competition.
We will present five days of value and terrific opportunities. New activities include mentoring and educational sessions, pitch prep coaching followed by a pitch day competition for companies at seed, growth and later/exit stages of maturity. The purpose of the expanded week is to show that the sector is diverse, mature and strong. We will have content and support from concept to IPO. We will have many more exciting details to share in the coming months, so stay tuned! More detailed information will be available in this newsletter and on the Health 2.0 and HIMSS websites.
Some entrepreneurs start with a clear vision – we started with curiosity and passion. It was an amazing time with many risks. We did not seek to build a conference company but it grew into more than we ever imagined at the beginning and I cannot quite believe where we are today.
Health 2.0 has looked robust and successful for the past decade – what were some of your early growing pains?
We started with Matthew and me working between our small kitchens with pets underfoot. We hired one employee at a time and had many growing pains because while we understood the content, but had never grown a conference platform, so the business and challenged us to learn new skills such as how to manage finances, including the choppy revenue cycle in the conference business. We were forced to grow using clever, low-cost strategies. Because we had limited funds and a very small team, a few of our early moves included chapter and licensing of our international conference to partners. That approach made an important difference included growing the grass roots Health 2.0 Chapter Network and conference through word of mouth and sticking to our brand promise that we were challenging the status quo which was our approach and ethos in our early days.
How has Health 2.0 evolved and matured with the HIT startup industry?
In 2010, the U.S federal government made a big push with policy and dollars into open data for healthcare –and shortly after came other initiatives including Meaningful Use, HITECH and more. These stimulated the sector, investments were growing, and there was a tremendous interest and need for more education to help everyone make sense of all that was occurring. The investments and policy propelled our growth and created a sense of maturity; we were no longer the radical outsiders, we matured with the industry and were becoming more mainstream. We were starting to see new trends – wearables connecting to EMRs, the rise of APIs, cloud computing, data analytics, application marketplaces, and more. Those trends and impacted Health 2.0 and put us into conversations with HIMSS.
Some in the industry were surprised by the HIMSS acquisition of Health 2.0 – what can you share about this?
As noted, when we started, we viewed as ourselves as upstarts pushing against the establishment with the goal of supporting these exciting new trends and technologies to improve healthcare. We wanted to see what we could do to leverage and support these new technologies and approaches, so we pushed and challenged what we felt was an unaddressed area of the sector. HIMSS focused on more mature and established companies, and we focused primarily on early-stage and start-ups. But, a decade has passed, much has changed, and we saw a tremendous opportunity to merge our energy, vision, and approach with HIMSS and its breadth of reach and resources. It is an exciting time, and we are already busy with new initiatives.
What do you see on the horizon for the next 3-5 years?
I see continued innovation and growth in three major groupings.
- Continued adoption by incumbent stakeholders: I see providers, pharma, health plans and other incumbent stakeholder organizations continue to adopt innovative technologies either on their own, through engaging in new collaboration models with tech firms, acquisitions, and partnerships to build their customized solutions.
- Startups, payers, and providers. This is a new disruptive “health-land” with emerging startup players teaming with established incumbents from the payer community to create radically different models. A few examples are Clover, OSCAR, Bright Health and many others trying new models of care delivery and payment. Those companies are building their own technology platforms and doing a bit of adoption.
- New technology platforms as care delivery models: New tech platforms will continue to evolve that you could mistake for care delivery organizations. Some applications are becoming larger technology platforms with services layered on top so that they start to look like new provider care delivery models…but are essentially tech companies with services. For example, Livango – is it care delivery or technology? Iora Healthcare which is an interesting hybrid. When you combine coaching over a platform, are you a new type of care delivery?
As we talk about these trends and new models, I also want to note the importance of levering technologies not just for their own sake, but to help all and in particular to reach the underserved. These new technologies and models can help us take a more community-focused approach and engage in new ways with players not traditionally at the table such as departments of health at the local and state level. Social determinants of health can no longer be an afterthought. It is an imperative to bridge cost, access, and efficiency and new technologies and models will help us achieve these goals.
Are there any final thoughts you would like to share?
Yes, I want to do a shout-out for more diversity in health tech. Health 2.0 has done much work to support getting more diversity in technology overall as well as in leadership roles – more gender and cultural diversity and will make us more effective and impactful as an industry.
In 2017, we launched TechQuality which is Health 2.0’s Mentorship Program that connects diverse health technology innovators (or innovators-to-be) with individuals who are leaders in health technology; from serial entrepreneurs to investors to CEOs, these individuals are committed to supporting individuals from all backgrounds in their health technology endeavors. The inaugural program was such a success that we are running it again in 2018. Our call for mentees and mentors was recently opened and we look forward to another great cohort in this program. To learn more, please visit www.diversityinhealthtech.com/techquality.
We need broad representation from all communities to leverage technology and do great work. I’m excited for the future of Health 2.0 and HIMSS and look forward to working with HIT-IQ collaboration and for rolling out the 2018 Venture Forum Week. It’s going to be a great time.