Next Things First


Health Innovation in the Northwest … Buzz Is Building by charlottegee
April 14, 2009, 7:34 am
Filed under: innovateHealth, seattle market, start-ups | Tags: , ,

This week, Dave Chase’s Seattle P-I blog, Seattle Startup Buzz, highlighted the health care innovation taking place in the Pacific Northwest:

It’s clear there is an innovation revolution taking place around the health care industry. The need for transformation is huge given the size of the market (16% of GDP and relentlessly growing). I worked in Healthcare I.T. in the 80’s and 90’s and always described it the industry as a paradox. On the one hand, it was at the cutting edge when it came to medical technology but was in the dark ages when it came to information technology. …

The Northwest is quietly staking a claim to leadership in this new innovation economy… and it makes sense. The region is home to some of the most successful software companies on the planet and we also have an extremely vibrant health care ecosystem with significant stakeholders like Swedish, Virgina Mason, Fred Hutch the UW and many others. Combine these elements and what you get is the makings of a first-tier health care innovation environment that will very likely produce the next great companies from the Northwest and could very well become difference makers in the US and even worldwide health care marketplaces.

Recognition of this potential is exactly what spurred Davis Wright Tremaine and a group of health care entrepreneurs to launch innovateHealth…a recently formed organization connecting innovators in the region and creating access inward and outward with potential clients, government leaders, capital resources and more. The folks behind the group are Rob Coppedge of Faultline Ventures, Peter Gelpi of Clarity Health Services, Tobin Arthur of iMedExchange, Joe Whitford and Stuart Campbell both of Davis Wright Tremaine.

We’re thrilled about the building “buzz” around the many innovative health care companies in the area and look forward to more.

More on innovateHealth: innovateHealth // Supporting Health Care Innovators in the Pacific Northwest

Posted by CharlotteGee

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Remembering Rick Carlson by Rob Coppedge
February 19, 2009, 9:27 am
Filed under: health policy, seattle market | Tags: , , ,
Rick J. Carlson

Rick J. Carlson

We were shocked to receive the news that our good friend and colleague Rick Carlson passed away last week. He will certainly be missed – as most good friends are – but the impact of losing Rick will run deeper. He was a living reservoir of experiential knowledge of the health care system’s experiment with managed care. He had seen the good and the bad – and was not afraid to point out the ugly, even in his own contributions to the system.

I would often introduce Rick as an architect of the HMO Act and the guy who “named” health maintenance organizations. “I am still living that down,” he’d retort.

Despite his ability to effortlessly list (and list and list) the failings of the current system, he was a close advisor to many of the biggest players in the business. His Rolodex was deep and full of friends – he often counseled me on the importance of actively cultivating and investing in one’s network. He was always early. He always followed up. He said it was because he was Swedish, but I haven’t met any other Swedes like Rick.

He was extremely excited about the changes on the horizon for the health care system – and spoke often of what he called the “Next Health Care Delivery System” where innovation focused on service delivery and treatments were assessed for comparative effectiveness. In the Next System, we would get back to managing the care of patients and use technologies to empower patients with the information they need to take better care of themselves. It was for him the logical extension of what he and his colleagues had attempted to build in the 1970s.

I valued Rick’s professional counsel and was honored when he joined Faultline Venture’s advisory board. He was excited to jump into the activities of the firm – helping communicate the exciting opportunities in the health care market to potential investors and advise early stage companies how to avoid the potholes he had seen. But more than that, he was a wonderful friend. He was one of the first calls I made when we decided to move to Seattle (“Great idea… its the right time”) – and has provided counsel on a range of subjects that he knew well (little local restaurants, great cups of coffee, amazing hiking trails, etc). Rick took an interest in us and we have been so much the better for it.

Many of us will feel the void his loss has left, and not just those who knew him well. It is the loss to the young health care entrepreneur that won’t have the value of Rick’s counsel that worries me most. I’d love to tell him that he was the one that got us into this mess and he has to stick around to help us get out. However, as I survey all the lives he has touched and careers he has influenced and friends who will carry his memory, I believe maybe he’s done just that. Now it is up to us to build the Next Health Care System.

RICK J. CARLSON

Rick J. Carlson, a renowned health consultant and one of the prime architects of the “Health Maintenance Organization Program” (HMO) died of a heart attack on Friday February 13th. Rick, who lived with his family in Aspen for twenty years had an impressive, illustrious and full career.  Born in 1940 in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Rick went to St. Olaf College and then went on to receive his JD at the University of Minnesota.

In 1968 Rick joined the Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies (currently Interstudy of Minneapolis, Minnesota) as a research attorney where he drafted the legislation which initiated the health maintenance organization movement across the country.  Following this work he was invited to be a Visiting Fellow at the “Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions” in Santa Barbara, California and during his 18 month tenure there he published his first book, THE END OF MEDICINE, which was a seminal book in the health field.  His work at the Center on issues pertaining to law and justice led to his writing his second book, THE DILEMMAS OF PUNISHMENT in 1976.

While living in California Rick served as the chairman of the California governor’s Council on Wellness and Physical Fitness and became the first director of the California Trend Report Project.  Over the years Rick worked as a consultant to major institutions in the healthcare industry, such as the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Associations of America, the America Hospital Association, the Health and Human Services Administration, the MacArthur Foundation and others.  In 1978 Rick authored THE FRONTIERS OF SCIENCE AND MEDICINE and in 1985 co-authored with Clement Bezold THE FUTURE OF WORK AND HEALTH.  From 1987 to 1990 he served as President and Chief Executive Officer of NewHealth Centers/PPP Inc which worked in the development and establishment of Primary Prevention Program Centers and state-of-the-art risk assessment systems.  In addition Rick was “Of Counsel” to Epstein, Becker & Green, P.C., a law firm with offices across the U.S..  Rick also served as the President and CEO of HealthMagic, a healthcare technology company headquartered in Denver and was Vice Chairman of Age Wave Health Services located in the San Francisco Bay area.

In 1987 Rick co-authored ISSUES AND TRENDS IN HEALTH with Brooke Newman and in 2002 co-authored with Gary Stimeling THE TERRIBLE GIFT, an assessment of the promises and perils of biotechnology.

In 2001 Rick became Clinical Professor Policy Programs Department of Health Services and Affiliate Professor Department of Pharmacy, School of Public Health at the University of Washington, Seattle.

Rick’s enormous body of work was an impressive accomplishment but his absolute greatest achievement in life was as an extraordinary loving, devoted, wonderful father to his four children Blue (Gyorgy), Joey, Josh and Rebecca, and his step-children Nikos and Samantha Hecht.
He will be dearly missed at the Aspen Ice Garden where he spent many an hour proudly watching Blue and Joey playing hockey.  And, indeed he will be missed by the hundreds of people he deeply influenced and touched personally.

The date for a memorial service will be announced within a few weeks.



Running on Empty by Rob Coppedge

The snow storm that has left Seattle immobilized (the schools were closed a day *before* the storm, just for good measure) has created the perfect  cold, wintry environment to read the just released National Venture Capital Association survey.  It confirms the icy predictions we’ve been making over the past month – things do not look good for start ups and early stage companies in 2009. In fact, for those that will need the capital markets, things look quite bad.

Respected Seattle business journalist John Cook comments on the NVCA report:

I’ve been informally conducting my own survey of VCs, lawyers and entrepreneurs around town.  The message I am hearing is not pretty, with one VC saying that nearly everyone is hunkered down. Long-time tech entrepreneurs such as The Cobalt Group’s John Holt and Jobster’s Jeff Seely have told me recently that it is about the worst economic environment they have seen.

The general feeling is that the capital markets may be shut for another 12 to 18 months, meaning that startup companies will have to learn to exist on the fumes of their previous venture rounds or get to profitability sooner than anticipated.

Running on fumes… Wow. I made the mistake of using that line with several start up CEOs recently and they almost took my head off. “What do you think we’ve been doing?” “We don’t have any fumes left… we ran out in the third quarter”.

A 70s Flashback for Start Ups

Running on Empty: A 70s Flashback for Start Ups

Without access to capital many of these early stage companies won’t make it to the next gas pump. Unfortunately, with news like this NVCA survey and  Coller’s Global LP Barometer, it doesn’t sound like the capital markets are going to show any sympathy.

Sure, there may be bigger problems out there.  But when billions of dollars are spent to bail out industries that  need to shed jobs, it is troubling to see the innovation and job creation engine of our economy seriously threatened by a lack of relatively small amounts of capital (mere rounding errors to the Treasury’s bailout accountants).

Posted by RobC



Why Seattle? A few thoughts on the Health Care Technology Network… by Rob Coppedge

A few weeks ago, my colleagues at iMedExchange hosted the first meeting of the Health Care Technology Network. It was a remarkable event, especially considering that given the local density of health care-oriented start-ups this was the first time we had all had the excuse to be at the same table.

I was asked to speak about why I chose to move to Seattle to set up Faultline Ventures (if you are inteersted in reading more about the event and my comments, iMedExchange blogs about the event here).

Despite the crticial mass of resources in this region (human capital, entrepreneurial culture, academia, innovative payor and provider organizations, etc), there was broad agreement that it is difficult (if not impossible) to raise venture capital for health care companies locally.  One of the most interesting comments of the evening came from the CEO of an early stage company that is actively raising money and has intentionally positioned itself in the software as a service industry (not health care) with potential investors… because there are more of them.

The sheer number of innovative early stage health care companies in the region should be enough to draw outside capital to the region (it is why we moved here)…and I believe capital it is the last key ingredient needed for this regional cluster to see explosive growth… but with the lack of new investment activity by exisiting funds it is unclear that the venture market will (or can) respond to the opportunity.

If the Health Care Technology Network catches on as a formal group for regular networking (and potentially the promotion of the opportunities in this cluster) it could help the cause of attracting capital. It could certainly provide an platform for raising awareness of companies operating in this region. The most successful organization of this type, the Nashville Health Care Council, has succeeded in bringing cohesion and a professional framework to the Nashville market place.

As someone said at the first  meeting of the Network: “Seattle is a brand”. Now, for those of us in the health care business,  we need to make sure we agree on what that brand is conveying to our industry and begin turning up the volume.

(By the way, visit some of the very interesting companies in attendance at the first meeting of the Network:  iMedExchange, Array Health Solutions, Clarity Health Services, Health Phone Solutions, Health Unity, Limeade, QTrait, Raffetto Herman and SnapForSeniors.)
Posted by RobC



Poker 2.0 and Other Musings by Rob Coppedge
September 18, 2008, 7:34 pm
Filed under: seattle market, venture capital | Tags: ,

After years of working in venture capital in relatively buttoned up markets (NYC and DC), I realized tonight I am in for something different here.

Perhaps it is the game room on our floor or the networking event called Poker2.0 that I was kindly envited to join – but it is sinking in that I am not in Foggy Bottom anymore.