Earlier this year, Mike McSherry joined the Providence Ventures team as an Entrepreneur in Residence. In the second of a two-blog series, Mike will talk about why he joined the team and the role of mobile technology in health care.
Health care is obviously very different from the tech world that you come from, why Providence? What attracted you to jump in here?
MM: First and foremost, I appreciate the Mission and the scale of what Providence is doing from a charitable perspective. Ultimately, I think that’s what attracted us to health care – the ability to take part in doing good.
Secondly, Providence is a strategic investor. In the world of venture capital, there are two kinds of investors: financial and strategic. Financial investors only invest for pure financial return. Strategic investors are typically a corporate fund set up by a large company. I like investments from corporate strategic funds that are going to help propel my ideas into these industries, which is why I really like the idea of aligning with this group. Providence is not only financial support for the idea but is also the first customer for a successful technology.
And finally, most health care startups hit the health care system itself and die because they haven’t designed a product that works in such a complex environment. They’ve imagined pain points that aren’t real or they’ve fundamentally misunderstood their customers (hospital staff, patients, pharmacists, etc). This is a different beast than building a consumer or enterprise app. The whole point of us partnering with Providence is to avoid those scenarios.
Can you talk about what a typical day looks like at Providence Ventures?
MM: Each morning my team runs through thoughts that we’ve had the night before impacting different ideas. We meet with a variety of folks within Providence’s specialty areas like cardiology, oncology, neurology who help us identify the trending issues that they see. With the startup market, you want your idea to intersect with vision of the future. Knowing what the strategy is behind increasing capitation risk, or the creation of the institutes, or population health is vitally important so that we can intersect the needs against the vision. We also have a number of meetings with external parties to see if what we’re working on gels with where the rest of the market believes the vision lies. Because ideally, the solution we create not only benefits Providence, but can also serve to benefit a much broader population nationally or internationally.
What’s been the most surprising thing since you’ve started at Providence Ventures?
MM: I really appreciate the accessibility that we have had to senior leadership. Everybody wants to solve problems, everyone wants to innovate, and everyone is looking for the silver bullet. And frankly, that’s been huge for us. Knowing that we have a leadership team behind us who wants to solve problems as badly we do is vital.
I know you have lots of experience in mobile technology, what do you think the ideal role for cell phones is in health care; for both consumers and providers?
MM: I think the cell phone for your average consumer is going to be a dashboard view into their health. You’re seeing that with wearables already, like FitBit, Apple Watch, and Sqord. They are providing motivational tools and tracking techniques to increase step count and activity levels. You’re going to see pulses and oxygen levels and potentially even blood sugar. It’s going to be tracking daily lives. I think you’re going to get into prescription adherence reminders. I think you’ll also be setting goals with fitness trainers and wellness coaches. With a microphone and a video you will also have instant access medical services. The cell phone will absolutely be window into a much broader daily existence and discussion with your providers.