Celebrating 5 Years of Health2047

Lawrence Cohen
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Five years ago, Health2047 was established to bridge healthcare and technology in a very specific way to transform US healthcare at the system level. Health2047 defines big-impact problems to be solved around the physician-patient interface, where fundamental action occurs, rather than at the administrative level. This interface is where many of the system’s most pressing challenges occur, and that’s where solutions have to be found and scaled to achieve a healthier healthcare system.

Dr. Doug Given, founding CEO of Health2047, and Dr. James Madara, CEO of the American Medical Association, came together to forge this organization aimed at identifying, nurturing, and launching ventures leveraging innovation and expertise from both the health and technology disciplines to combined and powerful effect.

When Doug was ready to pass the baton and talked to me about the opportunity to lead Health2047, I was immediately drawn to the phenomenal relevance of what Health2047 is trying to do. The team that Jim and Doug had already assembled—and the ongoing commitment from an organization as deep and vast as the AMA—presented a rare opportunity to make a difference.

Fulfilling Health2047’s mission builds on the heavy lifting and thinking that was done before I was even part of the organization — difficult groundwork laid in its infancy. The three strategic arcs of the AMA served—and continue to serve—as guide posts for the Health2047’s four pillars of focus. And those are very simply chronic disease, data utility, radical productivity, and healthcare value. If you can make important changes in those pillars, you can have the desired system-level effects that are needed to advance our healthcare system.

For example, with chronic disease, we decided to target prevention to both improve quality of life and lower costs. With data utility, we work on access innovation because, right now, that system is pretty chaotic. For productivity, it’s about empowering decision makers and involves a lot of technological application of emerging AI/ML. For healthcare value, we are building companies that can remove friction, disintermediate, and focus payment on actual care and the things that really matter.

It’s an audacious effort. But if we are successful in making advances in those four pillars, it will improve the entire system and go a long way toward greater health equity overall. We start with a blank slate and ask: What’s the real problem that needs to be solved? How are we going to solve that problem? And since these are big problems that are going to require significant capital to reach scale, how are we going to make these investable solutions so we can appeal to the financial community to support us in our endeavors? Those are challenging and exciting questions to ask and answer.

The team here at Health2047 is actually surprisingly small, but with a very broad set of business skills, background, and experience in healthcare and technology. We also have an amazing strategic network to help us identify gaps and opportunities; in addition to the AMA, we have an extensive network of experts, consultants, and advisors that helps us source and vet the most promising ideas. We’ve been given a charter to work on really big problems and opportunities — and that comes with a lot of responsibility. We operate at the system level, where we can have broad and deep impact; we don’t develop point solutions.

Given that we’re working on big-impact problems to be solved around the physician-patient interface, a primary source of important insights is the AMA’s physician community and their passions, observations, and experiences. But we don’t always create ventures whole-cloth; we also nurture ventures developed around concepts brought to us by entrepreneurs in our ecosystem whose vision and passion have the potential to make a meaningful difference to the health of our nation.

Serving as the locus for those ideas to germinate into scalable standalone companies is profoundly gratifying. Our efforts over the first five years have already created a number of innovative spinout companies forging new paths to improve American healthcare. And there are many more to come; the momentum is definitely accelerating. Undeterred by the pandemic, Health2047 continues to actively foster healthcare innovation for profound system impact.

Here’s to our next five years — and beyond!

— Lawrence Cohen is CEO at Health2047.

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