October 23, 2016 was a long day. I flew out of New York City’s JFK airport at 6:30 A.M EST, landed in Chicago, and drove to Cleveland, Ohio. 800 miles in the air and 350 miles in a car. Looking back on that day now though, it seems like a pretty small price to pay for the trip that the ESTEEM program here at Notre Dame could help my friends and I experience.
Every year the Cleveland Clinic holds their Medical Innovation Summit, and reports on the status of healthcare, innovation in healthcare, and their views on what the future of medicine and technology in this field could look like. We were excited about the entire agenda for the summit and made it to the first thing on Monday so we could hear from many of the founders of some of the most promising healthcare startups that Startup Health has been helping grow.
I was particularly intrigued when the founder of RC21X took the stage for his 2-minute pitch about the company, as their technology is a proprietary software that markets itself as an advanced brain and health measurement system. As I continue to build my own business around my research in concussion analytics, I found this specific company to be very exciting. It was difficult to write all our thoughts down regarding the founder’s vision because as soon as he stepped off the stage, another exciting and budding CEO or founder would take the stage and begin pitching his or her company to the eager crowd. Ideas ranged from at home care and checkups for pregnant women to a virtual assistant that enables clinicians to use natural language questions and commands to quickly identify a patient’s history, or to take new notes that will increase reliability in patient records and the speed at which they can be analyzed.
As the day progressed and the attendees continued processing the powerful words of our Vice President Joe Biden’s Keynote Speech, we all returned to the main exhibit room to watch the 4 participants of the annual “Challenge”. This competition is between 4 companies that have passed several other rounds of selective eliminations and proven their competitive edge in the market of medical innovation. While the eventual victory went to a business that is integrating cellphone like technology and tracking abilities into pill containers, I was personally captivated by the pitch given by the very energetic spokeswoman for a non-profit that uses social media to raise awareness for organ donation. The passion with which they are promoting organ donation and the innovative methods through which they are using social media tags to encourage more people to join the donor list truly struck a chord with me and many others in the audience.
The day came towards a close, and we enjoyed a refreshing cocktail and networking hour where we mingled with members of companies, ranging from massive medical suppliers to the smallest of startups. One exciting encounter was between a venture capital firm out of North Carolina. As we spoke with them about our various thesis projects and shared our goals of creating viable products/services, they showed great interest and eventually traded business cards with us all. We saw this as validation that the program here at ESTEEM has molded us into individuals with important experiences that are very valuable in the real work force.
Finally, we were fortunate enough to sit down to a beautiful meal while listening to the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic and the CEO of Medtronic speak. They talked about their own thoughts on where companies like Medtronic are moving in the future, the duty of medical schools to continue innovating and produce physicians/clinicians that can work in the new world of collaboration and advanced technology.
Overall, our first day was an experience that we will never forget. We were lucky enough to hear from some of the brightest and most forward thinking minds in medicine, and it is all thanks to the commitment of ESTEEM to provide life changing experiences that mold us into a force for good in the world.