Dr. Jack Lewin has what he calls an overly-simplistic maxim when it comes to reaching his goals. As an investor, the Principal and Founder of the healthcare consulting group Lewin and Associates, and Chairman of the National Coalition on Health Care, Dr. Lewin has no shortage of responsibilities. That is perhaps why “clarity is power” is his general truth of conduct. As he says, “being clear about what you want to do is the first step toward getting it done.”
Dr. Lewin is presently serving as the Syndicate Leader for the investment round in HealthPals. We recently had a chance to catch up with him to talk about his investment philosophies, how he got started investing, and what excites him about the future.
What Got You Started Investing?
I like to promote ideas that I think represent the future of healthcare. I look for innovations that are needed to make healthcare more effective for coming generations. I look carefully at what’s happening in the environment and try to associate myself with, and put my energy into, new companies that are going to create positive change.
What Gets You Excited About an Investment?
The principles of the company are really exciting. A lot of it is the team, but beyond that I also look for people who already understand the value and potential of a company. I like when I see my friend Bob Harrington has decided that he wants to be part of something. He is the Chief of Medicine at Stanford, and the former head of Duke’s Cardiology Research Institute. When he’s there you know something really amazing is happening.
What Attributes Do You Look for in a Founder?
I like to see founders who really want to make a difference. You can feel that passion. It’s more than saying “I want to get rich.” I also want to see the passion that they’ve generated in the people around them about the potential for their product.
That’s part of what is fascinating about HealthPals. We’re living in this era where it has become cliche to talk about providing better outcomes and decreased cost. This company really contributes to those things, and not as a cliche.
What Have You Learned that You Wish You Knew Earlier?
Follow your own passions. Work on what you want to see happen in healthcare, and even beyond healthcare in areas like health information technology. Put your money and energy into something that you believe could produce better health, better healthcare, or lower costs. That not only feels good, but it does good. It’s contributing to the improvement in the health of the population.
What Three Things Get You Excited?
The long-anticipated idea of interoperability. It looms as one of the biggest areas of potential contribution. The potential exists, but there are all kinds of human barriers — proprietary data, privacy breach fears, a certain sense that there is no way to create pure interoperability in the same way that we have made it work in banking and finance. It can work. Privacy can be protected. Proprietary concerns are barriers to thinking about and building a more successful economy in healthcare.
I’m also excited about advanced analytics, or artificial intelligence as it’s called. I like seeing companies that apply AI to things other than search engines or financial tools. Applying it to healthcare is going to really transform the future of our industry. HealthPals is on the cutting edge of that transformation.
Finally, I get excited about new therapeutic options which seem like long shots or like science fiction. Occasionally I come across something that is relevant to the future. Thinking of my experience at the American College of Cardiology, when my tenure was beginning, we weren’t thinking that we would be able to replace heart valves using catheter-based therapy. A procedure where we wouldn’t have to crack the chest, and don’t have to use general anesthesia. In some case we can even send the patient home the same day. Creating a heart valve that comes out of a catheter, opens itself up, and can embed itself and just function? That sounds like science fiction. Ideas like that are worth exploring, and we’re starting to see a lot more of them.
That’s part of why I’m so interested in HealthPals. It fits all of my exciting areas. It’s really a leap in terms of how that information gets used. It employs a relationship with the National Cardiovascular Data Registry. I had the privilege of helping to found, promote, and turn the NCDR into a national resource during my time at the ACC. The NCDR has an impact on improving outcomes in the inpatient setting. The retrospective analysis of data can be turned into a means of advising and helping patients right at the point of care.
To a certain extent, HealthPals represents virtual research in action. Looking back at the NCDR and hundreds of millions of patient records, a clinician can advise a patient about what happens to the thousands of people who present with the same constellation of clinical and demographic factors that they have. It’s almost a means for the doctor and the patient to decide together what course of action to take based on real data and experiences.
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