Why I’m quitting healthcare

This week marks the end of a ~six year stage of my career where I tried to make an impact in healthcare.

I consulted firms spanning the healthcare industry from pharma to billing and coding, I worked in hospitals affecting change on the front lines, I started a health IT firm to enable massive efficiency gains in surgery, and I poured my heart into another health IT firm working to revolutionize patient access. On the side I participated in and supported Hacking Medicine, and I encouraged and mentored other healthcare innovators.

As a consultant, success was measured in improvements to my clients’ bottom line, and I enjoyed working to this end.

The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads. That sucks. — Jeff Hammerbacher

But in healthcare, success was measured in improvements to the bottom line and in improvements to people’s health — indeed improvements to human life. By this measure, I found an intrinsic gratification difficult to overstate.

But alas, I’m not seeing or feeling an impact of my hard work; I’m not seeing improvements to human life. And I’m burnt out.

But what if I’m not alone?

Smart, hungry people should be able to swoop in and make immediate, meaningful impacts in healthcare. After all:

The problem is well defined:

Opportunities have been neatly enumerated:

And capital is flowing in to help:

Bessemer Venture Partners estimates $4.5B of capital has been invested in healthcare startups recently

Wait, but why?

How did healthcare become such a massive opportunity?

I worry that, healthcare in the United States is so deeply, systemically flawed that even seismic shifts like the Affordable Care Act may not be enough to shake loose the low hanging fruit.

What if politicians continue their threats of regression over progression.

What if the industry continues to trip over itself. What if so-called leaders of the revolution make foolish, dis-honest mis-steps? What if the healthcare old guard uses cheap tricks to fight off those bringing the most value? And what if healthcare innovators never get a chance to prove themselves?

Ugh. I’m sad that I’m not the first to leave healthcare, and worry I won’t be the last.

To those who stick it out and find a way to make an impact, first beer’s on me.

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