Building the database involved a healthy dosage of Excel, as well as research on Crunchbase, Angellist, and LinkedIn. I pored through as many digital health startups as I could, read synopses, and categorized the companies based on city and category. Health companies could fall into any category from biotech, to biometric wearables, to EMR, to population health, to health education. Researching companies exposed me to the opportunities available in the industry. I could also identify the weaknesses in certain approaches.
I began thinking about why some startups succeeded and why others failed. One prominent characteristic I noticed was a company’s ability to reach a mainstream population and scale. Oscar Healthcare was a great example of a company refreshing a stagnant industry with new savvy practices, involving health tracking and telemedicine. This sparked my interest on reaching millennials and the consumerization of healthcare. For my research articles, I focused heavily on how to design products for millennials, understanding millennial customer segmentation, and how to improve a startup. I incorporated many skills from I&E 281 coursework to explain my perspectives.
While continuing research and constantly brainstorming new article topics, I began refining my slide deck presentation of findings to be presented at the end of the fellowship. I worked closely with Marc Huey and Joanna Augenbergs, Elevar team members, to clarify my points and polish my content. During this time, I got a first-hand look at the nuances and intricacies of consulting, the meticulous attention to detail necessary for creating a convincing pitch.
The digital health space is extremely young, with the boom of funding starting in 2010 in major hubs like Silicon Valley, New York, and Boston. Many startups have failed and giants like Nanthealth, Flatiron, and Jawbone have taken the industry by storm. One of the major issues with digital health is becoming mainstream, and I really envision myself being able to make a difference in this regard. Health has always been considered very “separate,” as only professionals can make judgment on one’s health and give a diagnosis, and annual check-ups are often awkward and unhelpful. A more streamlined, updated version of one’s health can be created through biometric wearables and data gathering. My experience with Elevar has given me a greater understanding of how complex digital health is and what tangible actions can lead to impact. Startup culture is fast, difficult, stressful, and exciting – I discovered I really enjoy working in areas like this.
Researching and compiling the database was extremely challenging, and I had to persevere and find ways to become more efficient at my work. My mentors described their approach as throwing me into the “fire hose,” and that description is very accurate. After this experience, I have cultivated a newfound confidence and an ability to handle pressure in an unpredictable environment.