THE BLOG

24
Mar

What’s Next Ventures X-Change

A Few Pictures from Last Week’s What’s Next Ventures X-Change…

We also just wanted to take a moment to thank all of you who attended our event last week and made it a success. A big thanks to those who shared their start-ups and ideas with the group. Our goal for the evening was to create a casual laid back atmosphere where entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs could “x-change” ideas and receive constructive feedback from their peers. We think we were able to achieve that.

We look forward to seeing you at future events in the area and also syncing up with many of you on an individual basis. As always our door always is open to talk about ideas, start-ups, the weather, and What’s Next…

Best,

Rishi and the What’s Next Team

17
Mar

Innovation in Education… It Comes Down to the Dollars

Over the past few months I’ve developed an obsession with the evolving (or not-so-evolving) education landscape. Like the healthcare industry, the education system has remained relatively stagnant and is somewhat under fire. This can be blamed partially on the inherent bureaucracy associated with the industry, the misaligned incentives between students, teachers, and school districts, and the sector’s ill-defined metrics of success.

Here Comes Technology

Nevertheless, over the past few years the education technology (“edtech”) sector has been extremely active in terms of start-up creation and investment. Perhaps the most significant trend in the space has had to do with accessibility. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are aggregating and providing high quality educational content for free, giving virtually anyone with an internet connection access to hours of otherwise inaccessible knowledge.

Khan Academy – A Pioneer

A pioneer in this trend has been Khan Academy, a non-profit started by Harvard grad and ex-hedge fund analyst Sal Khan. Until recently Khan Academy’s offering has been educational videos covering subjects normally taught in middle school and high school class environments. Khan was able to differentiate his offering by establishing a highly personal connection through his instructional videos (he’s the teacher) and of course delivering all of his content gratis. While this undoubtedly altered the landscape in terms of access and opportunity, it unfortunately hasn’t done much yet to fundamentally change the way the education system operates (at least in the US). To be fair there are some innovative ideas that have started to take hold as a result of accessible high quality online instruction… like the flipped classroom model… where information delivery is done primarily outside of the classroom via an online platform and homework and more interactive learning is done in the physical classroom setting. However, these concepts are in their nascent stages and for the most part platforms like Khan Academy serve as a supplement to traditional classroom teaching and perhaps a substitution to after school tutoring. This is primarily because of society and economics. Majority of schooling (K-12) is “free” so schools have little incentive to change their approach and very few parents are going to take their child out of a social environment to stare at a screen for 8 hours a day.

Enter Capitalism

Last week Khan Academy entered into a partnership with the College Board in which they will offer free SAT test prep. Hello Princeton Review and Kaplan. When I heard about the announcement, I thought now this is disruption. Why? Now millions are on the line. Like other facets of education, test prep companies have relied on established cookie cutter approaches that they have bundled and re-bundled and sold to hopeful parents and students alike for significant sums of money. Now that there is a free, high quality (this is an assumption based on Khan’s reputation. I haven’t looked at the program myself) alternative, these companies will be forced to change their ways, innovate, and see how they can deliver superior services to justify charging such a premium. Maybe this innovation can take the form of truly personalized curriculums and/or providing different teaching methodologies based on one’s learning type (See a Buddy’s blog post on Adaptive Learning).

Regardless, I hope and predict we will see more innovation in the short-term that will truly change the behavior of the larger entrenched players and that will make a major impact on the education industry as a whole.

Warmly and Humbly,

Rishi

P.S. Thanks to AJ Jangalapalli for his vast ed tech knowledge base and help with this post…

03
Mar

The Relevance of “Scrubs”

Intelligent, humorous, and insightful post from Rev Reddy on the surprisingly accurate portrayal of the hospital ecosystem in the beloved TV sitcom Scrubs…

It ended 4 years ago but my favorite TV show of all time is Scrubs.

Without question. Out of all the sitcoms, mockumentaries, 1 hour dramas, reality shows, and HBO the past decade, Scrubs just stood out to me as having it all. At the end of the day, it made you laugh, it made you think about relationships, and it made you feel good. It just resonated.

There’s no doubt Scrubs thrived on rampant slapstick, absurd humor (say Family Guy for a comparison). But the irony of it is that despite the copious amount of cutaway comedy, out of any “medical TV show,” Scrubs most accurately and holistically depicted how a hospital is run in real life.

Let’s compare –

  • House-like cases definitely don’t happen on the reg like that in any hospital…
  • There were just too many hospital crashes and hostage takers in ER…
  • Grey’s Anatomy and Nip/Tuck – just no…

These shows were still highly intriguing in their own right. But in the plot lines and drama they served up they misrepresented some of the core elements of how healthcare works.

Scrubs managed to explore actual scenarios, challenges and dilemmas doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators still face today, all while being highly entertaining along the way.

For example –

  1. As in reality, patients were actually old at Sacred Heart. The average age of a hospital patient is 55+. Several stories on Scrubs focused on elderly patients and ethical dilemmas such as DNRs, euthanasia, and the nature of end-of-life-care. When JD (i.e., Zach Braff) misinterprets an elderly patient’s statement, “Well… I’ve lived a good life,” to discontinue the aggressive treatment and just make her “as comfortable as possible,” he learns to never assume and always listen to a patient choosing to fight back at all costs rather than make the most of days to come.
  2. Insurance shouldn’t but can make it difficult for physicians to do their job. In multiple episodes, JD and crew treat uninsured patients “around the system,” using fake patient names and switching rooms, because they know Kelso, the Chief of Medicine, would grill them for not turfing the patients out if they were stable. In reality, the best interest for the bottom-line of the hospital can often conflict with doctors treating each patient equally, insurance or not. This is perhaps the biggest on-going challenge hospital administrators face. In one episode, when JD and crew don’t treat Kelso’s uninsured friend out of fear of being caught, he asks, “Why didn’t you do what you always do and go behind my back?”
  3. Doctors are bound by the Hippocratic Oath. The essence of the Hippocratic Oath is to ensure that a doctor will always do what’s in the best interest of the patient and that they will never disclose information about the patient without their consent. JD’s commitment to this oath is tested when he finds out his crush’s boyfriend has an STD from sleeping around but can’t tell her because of the oath.  Luckily, she finds out herself and JD gets the girl (even if only for a little while).
  4. The progression from intern to attending is a wild one. Every season JD, Elliott and Turk climb a rung on the ladder. From the conversations I’ve had with young doctors who’ve watched the show, Scrubs is so good because it explores the nature of this hierarchy so well, whether it’s the mentor/mentee relationship between teaching attending and intern, vis-à-vis JD’s endless need of approval from Dr. Cox, or the insecurities interns face just starting out, paging their attendings constantly for approval on basic medical decisions.

These are just a few examples in detail but there are many more that make Scrubs such a healthcare-relevant show: pharma reps and the ethics of highly priced drugs, hospitals using fear tactics to sell unnecessary investigations (i.e., full-body MRIs), surgeons avoiding complex procedures to avoid risk of poor outcomes, the perception of surgeons as “jocks” and medical doctors as “geeks,” how easy hospital-acquired infections can spread, the need for doctors to constantly keep up with the latest medical knowledge, the importance of bedside manner, the under-appreciation of nurses… the list could go on.

These real-life issues so pertinent to understanding the nuances of healthcare delivery are all explored in Scrubs.

Though it ended 4 years ago, I think anyone interested in healthcare or looking for a fun way to learn about it, should watch this show.

It’s funny, smart and relevant. You can’t ask for much more.

You can see more of Rev’s thoughts on healthcare and entrepreneurship at his blog Healthcare Conversation for our Generation