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The Challenges We Face In 2019

Reflections after JP Morgan #JPM19


Last week I attended my third JP Morgan healthcare conference. My observations from the year before were that there was an incredible lack of patient perspective to help guide the development of what are supposed to be patient-centered solutions. 


This year my take aways really just reinforced themes I had already been seeing and experiencing, which I outline below. I’ve also thrown in a few challenges for you to keep the mind nimble and get you started (but make them your own!).


We Need To Partner Better

I love collaboration, which is pretty obvious given the fact I founded a co-op. So color me bias, but I believe that when we don’t partner, we are not only doing our organizations a disservice, but it is the patients who end up losing.


As a marketplace, we come in contact with all sorts of different organizations. Many of them seem synergistic, yet aren’t working together, and in fact, end up duplicating what the other is doing (both unknowingly, as well as purposely). This feels like the wrong kind of competition. Competition that drives innovation forward and cost down is good, but competition that is reinventing the wheel and depleting resources is not.


This is not unique to corporations, it’s happening between non-profits and other agencies that should be working together.


2019 Challenge: Think of two organizations that you could be partnering with and reach out and have a conversation — what’s the harm?

Competition that drives innovation forward and cost down is good, but competition that is reinventing the wheel and depleting resources is not.


The Race To Scale

I’ve learned that creating meaningful innovations is harder than making shiny objects. This affects how one uses time and resources.


Build meaningful products

Creating a product or service that someone actually wants takes commitment to conduct proper discovery and user-testing. As more people in tech enter the healthcare space, there’s never been a more important time for companies to pause and make sure they understand the unique experiences that patients and consumers go through (ie. asking friends and family isn’t enough).


As a patient myself, my mind explodes when I hear what some companies are asking patients to do or pay, and even the language they use (which sometimes is downright offensive).


2019 Challenge: Let’s strive for better than just product-market fit, let’s create a better person-impact fit.


Use caution how you measure success

It’s hard to get funding for things that aren’t designed to scale fast and exit (eg. be sold or IPO). I didn’t fully appreciate this till I was one of those companies trying to build an equitable and sustainable business. There is an incredible amount of money being invested in companies that at best aren’t solving a real problem, and at worst are actually exploiting patients. Yet these traditional models have a more familiar path to big returns, should they be successful.


Not all companies are like this. I’ve learned to find the other public benefit corporations (PBCs) or purpose-driven entrepreneurs in the crowd. Our struggles seem to be consistent — it’s really hard to try to pitch a model that puts patients before investor returns. My heart sinks writing that, but there is truth in it. Even those investors who want to change that are often tied by the constraints of their funds.


2019 Challenge: Read this terrific article just published in the NY Times highlighting some of my friends and role models who are forging a new path for sustainable businesses.


Wealth Inequalities

Each of these sections needs its own post, but perhaps none more than the need to address wealth inequality. Since the JP Morgan conference happens in San Francisco, I can’t ignore what is so conspicuous there. Individuals managing billion dollar companies and portfolios were, quite literally, stepping over the homeless to make deals.


These investors and business people also include those who are tasked with helping the opioid epidemic and improving public health. In moments like this I wonder how we can solve these problems when many of the decision-makers are so far out of touch.


2019 Challenge: Where to begin? — volunteer, read about universal basic income, donate money, clothes, and toiletries, carry Narcan, try not buying anything on Amazon for a month…

Individuals managing billion dollar companies and portfolios were, quite literally, stepping over the homeless to make deals.


The Year Ahead 

I don’t know what 2019 will bring, but I know that we all have the power to be part of the solution. What steps can you make this week, this month, and this year to create a positive change?




Savvy Cooperative accelerates the development of patient-centered products and solutions by providing a gig economy marketplace for patient insights. Companies and innovators can connect directly with diverse patients and consumers to participate in market research, user-testing, discussion boards and co-design opportunities. Using a unique co-op model, Savvy Cooperative is the first patient-owned platform that empowers patients to use their health experiences to advance research, resources and product development. For more information about Savvy Cooperative, please visit www.savvy.coop and follow Savvy Coop on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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