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Reforming the Health Care ‘Freakosystem’

As tech bulldozes its way through various industries, few have posed more obstacles and opportunities than health care. The $3.8 trillion system in the U.S. alone is old, massive and most people agree, in dire need of repair.

The structure of the industry and the sensitive nature of health data pose major challenges for small and tech companies alike. To dig into the issues, The Information convened a panel earlier this month with four startup executives on the front lines of the push.

They were Jini Kim (founder of data analytics service NunaHealth and formerly of Google Health), Ali Diab (founder of a new type of insurance company Collective Health), Jennifer Tye (VP of Marketing at Glow, a fertility app whichs plans to be much more) and Jordan Shlain (a doctor and entrepreneur who started HealthLoop, a service for doctors to keep in touch with patients).

It was a wide-ranging discussion full of unusually candid back and forth. Jini described being nine years old and having to sign her autistic brother up for Medicaid because their parents couldn’t speak English. The group debated the difficulties of selling their services to big companies, when they’re dealing with what one described as mid-level People magazine reading employees who don’t understand data, as well as the “egosystem” that is hospital management. Another discussion focused on why head surgery correlates with dog ownership.

More broadly, several major themes were covered:

1) Where entrepreneurs should target their energies

2) Why Google Health failed and where the company could still have an impact

3) The pros and cons of a “public” health insurance option vs. single-payer vs. private insurance

4) Why it’s pointless to think of “consumers” of health care