Healthcare Lab students share ideas with startups

Health care startup founders share stories, seek student input

December 19, 2014


Chris Moses

Two MIT alumni and a PhD student shared their health care startup stories and listened to student suggestions in a Nov. 12 Healthcare Lab class.

Elliot Cohen, MBA ’13, Chris Moses, SB ’10 (Brain and Cognitive Sciences), and John Lewandowski, a PhD student in mechanical engineering, participated in a panel convened by Senior Lecturer Janet Wilkinson, director of the Initiative for Health Systems Innovation, and Professor Retsef Levi.

Chris Moses, co-founder and CEO of Smart Scheduling, fielded questions from students about the company, which mines patient scheduling histories in an attempt to predict who’s likely to miss a doctor’s appointment. Someday, the technology could be used beyond health care, he said.

Moses said he enjoyed the class’s format, as well as the suggestions offered by the students. “It allows people to respond creatively … it was almost like a big brainstorming session for me,” he said.

   Students in Healthcare Lab classStudents in Healthcare Lab class

The 30 students in the class were given specific background on the companies invited to the panel and prepared questions for them. One student later said that the panel was an inspiring way to see people like Cohen, Moses, and Lewandowski “work around the complex health care system.”

   Providing feedbackProviding feedback

Several students in Healthcare Lab, which includes students from multiple MIT Sloan programs, said it offers an opportunity to explore the health care realm as a potential career.

   John LewandowskiJohn Lewandowski

John Lewandowski, founder of Disease Diagnostic Group, discussed his invention, the Rapid Assessment of Malaria, a handheld device for detecting malaria in blood. He discussed some of the regulatory issues in countries where malaria is prevalent. Some students suggested working with ministries of health in those countries, and Lewandowski concurred that the idea was worth investigating. Disease Diagnostic Group is the winner of the 2014 MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition and a 2014 winner of the $100,000 prize in the 2014 MassChallenge competition.

   Elliot Cohen and Janet WilkinsonElliot Cohen and Janet Wilkinson

Elliot Cohen, co-founder and chief technology officer of PillPack, talked about how his company, which is a retail pharmacy that ships prescriptions to patients in packs organized according to their appropriate dosing schedules, wants to make it “delightfully simple” to deal with medications.

Cohen said the class participation was helpful. “I felt very fortunate to get invited,” he said, adding, “For me, the benefit is that you get healthy dialogue, and it makes you ask yourself questions. It’s a great way to expand your thinking.”