Innovative and progressive-thinking entrepreneurs inspire change and take risks to solve problems. Halle Tecco, Founder and Managing Director of Rock Health, spoke with Fast Company about changing the health care industry with new mobile technologies to put power back in the hands of patients and providers.
Tell us about the early days of Rock Health. How did the concept of creating an accelerator for digital health startups come to life?
Health care needs to change. Americans live shorter lives and experience more injuries and illnesses than people in other highincome countries, yet we pay the most–health care expenditures in the U.S. are 18% of GDP.* The health care sector is one of the last to join the digital age. We think the best way to change that and fix health care is to fund and support startups innovating at the intersection of health care and technology, which is why we started Rock Health.
When you were starting out, what did you foresee as the biggest risk to success? How did you manage it?
Four years ago when we started Rock Health, the health care industry in general was much more skeptical about the potential of technology. We knew we had to work with the system and not against it if we wanted to succeed, so we brought on some of the biggest stakeholders in the health care system to be our partners. These partners, which span leading medical institutions, venture capital firms, and corporate strategic partners, play a large role in helping our portfolio companies get off the ground in this complex industry.
Currently, what is the biggest risk or challenge to your growth?
Our biggest risk would be resting on our laurels and becoming stagnant as an organization. We tirelessly experiment with new programs and offerings and relentlessly cut anything that we can’t prove fulfills our mission of supporting entrepreneurs.
Who within your company is responsible for managing risk?
We are a small team, and everyone takes part in managing risk.
What are some of your favorite technologies coming out of Rock Health companies?
One trend we get excited about is digital medicine–which is a massive reinvention in the practice of medicine that involves the use of software (sometimes in combination with commodity hardware) to improve health outcomes by better diagnosing, treating, and preventing illness. A number of our 55 portfolio companies are working in this space. For ear infections, there is a device that turns smartphones into an otoscope to enable parents to receive a diagnosis and prescription for their child without visiting urgent care. We can also now get custom mobile mental health diagnosis and treatment programs that reach five times as many people at one-tenth the cost of in-person counseling. There is a computer based visual cognitive test that may be able to help physicians predict Alzheimer’s disease three to six years before symptoms appear. Furthermore, children’s weight loss programs typically deployed in hospitals can be delivered through intelligent mobile apps to help kids lose weight and build healthy lifestyles. Digital medicine allows for continuation of care beyond the hospital and improves the reach of care providers, with huge potential to lower costs and increase the accessibility of healthcare
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