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HL20: Rebecca Lynn—Investing in Innovation, from the Outside

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, December 13, 2011

In our annual HealthLeaders 20, we profile individuals who are changing healthcare for the better. Some are longtime industry fixtures; others would clearly be considered outsiders. Some are revered; others would not win many popularity contests. All of them are playing a crucial role in making the healthcare industry better. This is the story of Rebecca Lynn.

This profile was published in the December, 2011 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

 "There's been a ton of resistance from the industry because they want to preserve the status quo. And that's typical of any industry that's about ready to be changed and reinvented."

Some argue that the healthcare industry is innovation-proof. It is risk averse. It is too slow—even unwilling—to change. It is too complicated and regulated to reinvent. And it has no incentive to shake things up. The healthcare system is expensive, inefficient, and difficult for its customers to navigate.

It doesn't have to be that way, says Rebecca Lynn, a partner at Morgenthaler Ventures, a venture capital and private equity firm with offices in Menlo Park, CA.  But the healthcare industry isn't going to save itself, she adds. Change will come from outsider entrepreneurs unfettered by the status quo—who can tame the healthcare data beast and who are willing to try new ideas, such as outsourcing some care to patients themselves.

Lynn, who has a background in consumer and finance products and services, has turned her attention to investing in companies that are "reinventing healthcare [and] bringing healthcare closer to the patients, that are making doctors more efficient and better able to do their jobs," she says.

It all starts with data, Lynn says. They key is figuring out the best way to get that data into the hands of those that need it: physicians and patients in particular.

"People care more about their financial health than they do their personal health," she says. Even so, "few people are compulsive enough to balance their checkbook." That's why she doesn't believe that patient-managed PHRs will work—because few people will populate and maintain them on their own.

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