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  • 07.27.11

Rock Health Provides Disruptive Force For Health Care

Rock Health is a new nonprofit incubator in San Francisco, dedicated to software development that may change health care. These women have the dream of disrupting the worst-run consumer industry in America with new mobile technologies that put power back in the hands of patients and providers.

What
are the odds that I would find myself in a room with two other women who also had worked at Intel and
were passionate about health care? I thought maybe a
million-to-one until I met Halle Tecco and Leslie Zeigler at Rock Health. They
are truly star power.

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It
gets better from there. Rock Health is a new nonprofit incubator in the
touristy Chinatown part of San Francisco.
But take the elevator past the imported knickknacks and large animal
sculptures in the doorway and you will find an open, industrial workspace
dedicated to software development to change health care. These women have the
dream of disrupting the worst-run consumer industry in America with new mobile
technologies that put power back in the hands of patients and providers.

In
case you are wondering where the power lies now, it’s in the hands of the
payers.

In
most industries, the growth of information technology has shifted power to the
customer. Or at least put it in the hands of the vendor who can target based on
known customer preferences.

But
health care has very little CRM, and no VRM. These software driven terms
translated to health care would mean that the provider had adequate information
about you to offer you intelligent treatment choices, and that you as the
patient had the power to choose who and what gets treated and what you will
pay. In health care, the patient has almost no choice of either treatment or
cost.

Rock
Health has eleven resident grantees (who have received nominal sums of $20,000)
in its the first program, and twenty “member companies” who have not received
money but can come to workshops and receive advice. They are focused everywhere
from preventing hospital readmissions, to drawing conclusions from large data
sets, to helping people find doctors who will give discounts.

But
Rock Health isn’t trying to boil the ocean of our broken health care system.
Instead, it is trying to work around the intransigence of the existing old
guard to empower patients. It doesn’t touch the areas of data integration or
flirt with privacy laws no one understands. Realizing that mobile devices can
be used for prevention, monitoring, and better communication, it is trying to
encourage startups that can succeed in selling into this difficult market
because they are not selling to hospitals, but rather selling WITH hospitals.

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What
I loved most about Rock Health, and why I plan to stay involved with it,
is the energy of the founders, one of whom was recently diagnosed with
ulcerative colitis and got a crash course in health care systems mismanagement
herself while still in her mid-20s. She has blogged a bit about her colonoscopy
prep here.

There’s
nothing like being a patient in our health care system to fire you up for
change.

About the author

Francine Hardaway, Ph.D is a serial entrepreneur and seasoned communications strategist. She co-founded Stealthmode Partners, an accelerator and advocate for entrepreneurs in technology and health care, in 1998.

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