A venture capital investor is seeking participants for a version of the internationally syndicated Startup Weekend that will focus on healthcare IT.
Dr. Elliot Menschik of Venture F0rth is a physician turned serial entrepreneur. The idea behind Startup Weekend Health in Philadelphia was triggered in part by calls Menschik fielded from physicians looking for a programmer to help them develop mobile apps to address unmet healthcare needs they encountered. Another was Menschik’s background in technology and the realization of how much healthcare IT lags behind other sectors.
He launched his own company Hx Technologies, which works with healthcare providers, payers and patients, to provide online access to a patient’s diagnostic images and reports. It was acquired by MEDecision in Wayne, Pennsylvania in 2009.
“I feel it’s really important for the startup arena to inject innovation into healthcare at a faster pace than we usually see,” Menschik said. “Philadelphia is a healthcare-rich environment. It has the oldest hospital in the country (Pennsylvania Hospital) and the oldest medical school (the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania).
Startup Weekend involves participants pitching their ideas to a room full of developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts on a Friday. Members of the audience decide which company they like and for the next 54 hours they brainstorm to develop the building blocks of the company’s product and business model. On Sunday, the teams give a more detailed presentation to an audience that includes investors. The goal is to improve the startup and seed-stage ecosystem.
Asked what kinds of technology he hopes will emerge from the weekend, Menschik said tools to provide more rapid diagnosis and greater compliance with treatment regimens from patients.
“It’s hard to do in a weekend, but people could build something that could be a real game changer at the enterprise level,” said Menschik. “I think it would be a good outcome to have a dialogue between different aspects of the industry, sharing perspectives and working through some tough problems.”
Startup Weekend Health is seeking to bring together domain experts from physicians, payers, pharmaceutical companies and public health with technical, business and design innovators, and volunteers from around the region.
Despite a decline in venture capital investment in the healthcare industry in the first quarter, healthcare IT deal volume showed an uptick.
Menschik believes the weekend could at least spark some productive conversations about enterprise software needs in the healthcare industry.
“We’ve never done it before. Hopefully, it will be a fantastic learning experience and produce concepts with a real chance of impacting an industry that lags behind every industry I’m aware of in the use of IT in a constructive way,” he said. “We’re optimists and we’re impatient.”
Startup Weekend Health is scheduled to start June 1. People and companies interested in participating should contact Menschik at email@example.com.