ix health

IX Health Q&A: Talking with Revon Systems’ CEO

A foreward from from Spry Labs Managing Director Emily Geiger.

Next Friday, Cintrifuse, Spry Labs, The Health Collaborative and 17a are hosting more than 200 leaders, doers and startups at IX Health 2017 – Civic Health Tech at Union Hall in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Big Tech keynote headliners, Adam Hecktman, Microsoft Civic Tech leader, and Dr. Ted Smith, Former Civic Innovation Officer of Louisville Metro will serve as content pillars of our day. Beyond that, we will showcase 10 civic health startups from all over the country and launch our first-ever Flip the Pitch event sponsored by the City of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Finally, we will showcase fantastic traction from winning teams from Hacking Heroin.

Sign up today: IX Health 2017 – Civic Health Tech

The beauty of Innovation XChange is the kismet and collision of market demand for innovation from BigCos, health systems, payers, manufacturers and supply side of patients, startups, technologists who are on the hunt to solve for them.

IX Health is an option on what’s possible when we mix it up.

But… before for we start the grand remix of big thinkers, let’s dig in and ask ourselves, “what is Civic Health Tech, anyway?”

Kick-off speaker Dr. Ted Smith, now CEO of Revon Systems, shares his view on the power of “street-level, citizen-powered” innovation.

Five questions with Ted Smith

1. What is Civic Health Tech anyway? 

Ted: Civic Health Tech is the intentional acknowledgement that technology in the community is different than technology in the hospital or technology at home or even personal technology. When you add the word ‘civic,’ you bring affinity with the community you are in.

Perhaps the reason you are excited about health is because there is social good. “My data improves the health of my neighbor.” That is a powerful idea. It is also a powerful motivator to participate. It reminds me of why people don’t generally like clinical trials. They feel very one way. Extract my data and maybe someday, somehow, it will benefit me or someone else I will never meet. Civic tech is retail, street level tech and when applied to health, most people understand how important the mission is.

2. Where does innovation best begin? With the government? Patients? 

Ted: No one corners the market on innovation. I see innovation as an expectation that  — as long as there are problems, there are opportunities to do the thing you are doing now differently or to do something completely novel. The keeper of the problem is in the best situation to cultivate the solution. My work in government brought me problems about our community and we were in a great position to tackle those problems. Patients may know of other problems and they will be in the best position to drive new solutions to those problems.

3. What tools are necessary (or maybe missing) for patients and citizens to get more involved in managing their journey to wellness? Who’s doing it well?

Ted: A friend who is the CEO of the public company gave me some great advice about how to support innovation and entrepreneurship. This person said:

“Everyone thinks entrepreneurship is about starting a company, finding financing and selling the thing you came up with – but that is a recipe for failure. We need to open a Problem Store and let entrepreneurs come in and browse the problems that consumers and companies have identified. Try to find a valuable problem and solve it with a product or service and the money and customers will find you.”

To this day, I don’t think there are enough people who really understand the importance of the problem as most of the value. We are so quick to push solutions because they are possible and not because they solve valuable problems.

4. What is the primary ingredient for getting government, healthcare, support systems and family engaged? What kind of talent is required to activate those ingredients?

Ted: Many years ago, I had the privilege to work with and for Aneesh Chopra and Todd Park during the Obama administration. They came up with a brilliant program that I helped with called “DC-to-VC” and we went around the country engaging with VCs about the specific changes in health care policy and payment that should spur innovation.

Things like Rock Health and Blueprint Health came out of that era and benefited directly from good alignment between government and the private sector. I think we all learned the talent that succeeds in bi-lingual. They can speak healthcare and they can speak business. I say business intentionally because I don’t believe nonprofits have the sustainability to scale the change. We have seen a lot interesting and successful companies spin out of established healthcare to take advantage of things like government data and we have seen startups come from tech work hard to understand healthcare – especially the payment models.

5. Biggest success? Biggest failure?

Ted: My biggest success personally is the AIRLouisville Project – it was a small, fragile and likely to fail idea in July of 2011 and it grew to be a landmark project in place-based population health.

Biggest Fail? Trying to deliver personal air pollution monitoring before its time (2013). I’m guilty of talking dozens of good hearted people to buy low-cost air monitors to be deployed in an array all around Louisville. We bought one hundred units and had to give up after deploying 20…I have a few in my garage if anyone would like one of the 80 extras.

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