News

For entrepreneurs, health sciences provide challenges, opportunity

Print this PageHome > News > 2012 > For entrepreneurs, health sciences provide challenges, opportunity

June 06, 2012


Entrepreneurial Evolution of Healthcare 2000-2020.


Its byzan­tine reg­u­la­tions and painstaking approval processes make breaking into the health​care field incredibly difficult for entrepreneurs. But for the few with the right mix of motiva­tion, savvy and drive, it can be quite rewarding.

“I talk to entrepreneurs in the life sciences and more than anything, they’re committed,” said Richard Anders, the founder of Massachusetts Medical Angels, a small firm that invests in healthcare startups. “They say ‘My son has cystic fibrosis’ or ‘My friend has ALS.’ They have a personal connection and, sometimes, they get amazing results.”

Anders spoke on Thursday evening at a panel called “Entrepreneurial Evolution of Healthcare 2000–2020,” which was hosted by the Health Sciences Entrepreneurs, an alumni group dedicated to fos­tering entrepreneurship in the rapidly evolving world of health care. Anders was joined on the panel by Joseph Kvedar, the founding director of the Partners HealthCare’s Center for Connected Health, and Kristin Madison, a Northeastern pro­fessor of law and health sciences.

Anders and Kvedar said the next wave of successful ventures in health sciences would be focused on improving patient care and quality of life while also cutting costs. According to Kvedar, the key to success lies in using technology to monitor patients that would give doctors a chance to intervene before a major problem occurs. He said another change would lie in using technology to remove bar­riers between patients and their doctors, nurses or other caregivers.

“You check yourself in at the air­port, you pump your own gas, you get your cash out of a machine. All of those used to be jobs done by a person, until technology changed those industries,” Kvedar said. “In health care, you see five different people before you see your doctor. Sixty percent of this field’s costs are personnel and that has got to change.”

Madison, an expert in healthcare legislation, said the uncertain fate of President Obama’s signature healthcare legislation — The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — may pose challenges for entrepreneurs. Many entrepreneurs are unsure how a repeal of either the entire bill or its individual mandate would affect the market.

The elimination of the individual man­date would likely cut demand for health care since fewer people would have access to insur­ance, Madison said, but some areas, such as the cre­ation and management of digital information systems, would nonetheless continue to thrive.

“One thing to do as entrepreneurs is think about the demands on the healthcare field and what kind of opportunities that might create,” Madison said.

Christo­pher Ford, BA’73, the chairman and co-​​founder of American Renal Associates, Inc., and a member of the HSE steering committee, co-moderated the event. He urged entrepreneurs to take advantage of the evolving healthcare field to find business success that aids society at large.
“Some people might call what we’re going through a revolution, not an evolution,” Ford said. “And those of us who have been around for a long time know that change of this magnitude provides nothing but opportunity for capable entrepreneurs.”