Patient health data is the single biggest bottleneck for advancing healthcare
Healthcare is going through a tremendous phase of innovation. Healthcare data is finally coming online due to the government mandate to adopt Electronic Medical Records (EMR). AI and machine learning is advancing at an exponential rate. Soon, precision medicine will finally become reality. Doctors will be able to better diagnose my condition based on data from millions of research papers that no single human can possibly read in his lifetime. They will prescribe me the best treatment available not because it’s “what generally works”, but because millions of other patients who are similar to me in age, sex, and genetic makeup saw a positive impact from the treatment.
While I have no doubt that is the future, I think one fundamental thing that is often not talked about is that these advancements all require a fundamental ingredient, holistic patient health data at scale. In my opinion, it’s not the lack of algorithms, but the lack of access to useful health data that is the single biggest bottleneck for advancing healthcare treatment. Any researcher will tell you that a simple algorithm with lots of data will generally hold more predictive power than an complicated algorithm with little data. As far as I know, this type of data just simply doesn’t exist today for research. This is because sharing healthcare data is very hard. There are a number of reasons for this:
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Tesla recently put out a $2.8B bid to acquire SolarCity. The initial reaction was less than favorable. Here are some of the headlines:
Is Tesla’s SolarCity Move Actually a Bailout? – Bloomberg
Why Tesla and SolarCity Have an Elon Musk Problem – Fortune
Tesla’s Deal With SolarCity Is A Remarkably Bad Idea – SeekingAlpha
At this point, a lot has been written about the short term impact of the deal. However, I haven’t really read anything that explored the long term potential of the product that the combined company can build together.
By putting solar panels together with battery storage, the 2 companies can create an end to end solution that allow people to produce, store and consume clean energy at a cheaper price than what they would have otherwise paid for.
I think in order to understand the value and feasibility of it, the most important thing is to figure out the unit economics of solar panels and batteries. Electricity isn’t sexy or entertaining. In order to achieve mass adoption, the solution needs to save people money and be viewed as an asset. To get a high level understanding, let’s start ask a few basic questions about solar panels and batteries.
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It’s hard for outsiders to tell the difference between conviction and stubbornness.
Both have strong belief systems, but their mindset is vastly different.
I was going to write a long blog post about it, but realized I can distill it down to the following:
Someone with strong conviction is receptive to new information. He has strong opinions but is ready to be convinced otherwise.
Someone who’s stubborn is on his own island. He closes his mind to all other possibilities because he can’t possibly be wrong.
Conviction = opinionated
Stubbornness = bigoted
Don’t be a bigot.
On writing requirements
How do you write good requirements? What’s your process for writing them? These are often the first question people new to PM ask. And rightly so! A PM’s primary job is to figure out what to build and then write a set of clear instructions for the engineering team to actually build it.
The ability to write complete and clear requirement cannot be overstated. It gives you more credibility with the engineers, reduces preventable rework due to missed requirement, and most importantly, frees up your time to focus on future product releases.
There are lots of instructions on how to write a typical user stories in the Agile environment. However, I found that they either stay super high level, or give examples that are overly simplistic and doesn’t take into account the complexities of real world development.
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“I am a product manager. I do a bunch of things…just not any real work.” I’ve tried that line a few times at cocktail parties when the question “so…what do you do?” invariably comes up. On the good days, that usually gets a faint laugh from everyone. The statement is meant to be facetious, but there is an element of truth to it. In fact, that’s exactly what my mother thinks to this day. In her mind, unless my job title has the word engineer, lawyer, doctor, or sales in it, it’s not a real job. She keeps a spare bedroom in her house. I’m convinced it’s because she believes it’s only a matter of time before my company figures out I’m actually useless and show me the door.
While I don’t think I will be out of a job soon, there is a certain amount of truth to that. The way product managers add value is very nebulous. In my daily work, I tell people what to build, but I don’t actually build anything. I do a lot of selling to stakeholders, but I don’t actually sell any products or bring in any money for the company. I tell people how to do a bunch of things, except they are 10x better than me at doing it. So why should a product manager exist at at?
In my view, a product manager is the equivalent of an amplifier in a sound system. By itself, it’s completely useless, but given the right components around it, the amplifier is the difference between a home theatre system and a sound system that is able to fill a 2,000 people concert hall. If I have to distill down the role of product manager into a tweet, it would be to:
10x the productivity of the people I works with
The philosophy has significant implication in the way I approach work on a daily basis. Below are 3 rules that I follow to ensure that I get the results I desire.
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A new beginning
I recently accepted a job offer to join a healthcare technology start-up called Medivo. This concluded my 4 months job search. It was actually the first time I had to find a job after since graduating from college. Before this, I ran my own tech start-up called Fleetbit. Compared to my experience applying for internships as a student, I found that I had to work much harder to get that initial interview. In hindsight, this made sense. In college, the pool of competition is much smaller and the firms have a mandate to hire young talent every year through campus recruitment. Those rules don’t apply anymore once I am out of school.
Looking for jobs is hard!
During the first month of my job search, I had very limited success. I mostly applied online. Out of the 10 jobs I applied to, only 1 of them got back to me for an interview. Despite several iterations of improvement on my resume and cover letter, the conversion rate did not improve at all. After a month, I concluded that my resume was not the issue. Instead, I needed a different way to get the employer’s attention and establish credibility. Going through the regular recruitment channel was not a good option.
Having started Fleetbit, I knew I had a unique and compelling story to tell. My hypothesis was that if I can make my case directly to the decision maker instead of going through the recruiter, my success rate will dramatically improve.
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It’s hot in here
According to IDC, the current estimated market size for cloud storage is $23B. It is projected to grow at 13% every annum and reach $38B by 2017. Those are some pretty enticing numbers for any venture capitalists looking to cash in on their next big exit. Box recently just raised $125M in equity financing, bringing the total valuation of the company past $1B. Back in 2011, Dropbox raised $250M at a whopping $4B valuation from some very prominent VCs (e.g. Goldman Sachs, Benchmark Capital, and Greylock Partners). 2 years later, it is again seeking $250M, but at double the previous valuation. Other “smaller” start-ups are also getting in the game (e.g. Egnyte, SugarSync, Nasuni just a few). Beyond the start-up scene, Tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Apple all have their own cloud storage service and are marketing them aggressively to consumers and enterprises.
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