Written by: Alexander Börve, MD & CEO of First Derm
It has been a whirlwind of a week for me in Washington DC and my First Derm team back in SF. I just got back from DC where I was invited by Mobile Future for getting second place in the Mobiley Awards. Mobile Future is a group based in the capitol who promotes and recognizes mobile innovation through the Mobiley awards. So first and foremost, big shoutout to the Mobile Future team, especially to Allison Remsen, Emily Talbot and Rachael Bender for all their effort in making this week run so well!
Norwegian by birth, I am a medical doctor who now leads an American mobile dermatology startup in San Francisco, iDoc24. Needless to say it was a unique and eye-opening experience to travel 2,400 miles across the country to meet the leadership in charge of America’s health and technology policies. I got a lot out of the journey and I thought I’d write a quick wrap-up: here was my itinerary and key lessons that I learned as a Mobile Health entrepreneur.
Early Wednesday morning I met Jennifer Oberhausen and Josh Bercu from the law firm Wilkinson, Barker and Knauer. Their information regarding consumer protection was quite productive. Above all else they stressed the importance of outlining clear privacy policies and expectations for users. As a mobile health CEO this is especially important– my users need to know that we value their privacy and safety in order to gain trust. Putting privacy first has been a defining characteristic of my technology from day 1, but it is always something that you should be continually evaluating and improving.
We then went for lunch with the Mobile Future judging team. It was great meeting you in person, Soumik Pal, Lauren Zoltick, Diane Smith and Jonathan Spalter — Hope to see your team again when I’m back in DC!
Afterwards the Mobiley winners were taken to meet Rahul Dubey, the managing director of innovation at AHIP (America’s Health Insurance Plans). America’s Health Insurance Plans is a political advocacy group who represents 1,300 of the nation’s insurance providers. The topic of discussion surrounded bringing the innovations of startups like us to the 92% of AHIP insurance companies who are actively pursuing mHealth solutions for their plans. As we know from practice, and have seen from our academic research, our technology saves money, and can save lives when it comes to early detection of cancer. No matter if you are a patient, provider, or payor, these outcomes are significant, and should be implemented in the broader healthcare system as fast as possible.
Last for Wednesday’s agenda was our video shoot and holiday party with Mobile Future!
The time had finally come for us to visit the White House and meet with the president’s OSTP (Office of Science and Technology Policy). Luckily I remembered my passport, because without it I wouldn’t have been able to get through the Secret Service checkpoint. I heard that even celebrities and dignitaries have been denied White House access for forgetting to bring ID! Once through security, I pitched First Derm to leaders of the OSTP who included Philip Rubin, Saul Gonzales Martirena, and May Chu. We all came to the agreement that my service and telehealth fit in quite well with the Obama administration’s vision for the future of American healthcare, and specifically with the Affordable Care Act (AHA). Tele/mHealth solutions improve access and lower costs across the board.
Next up was meeting Commissioner Ajit Pai of the FCC. Through FCC policy-making he hopes to increase and protect mobile access in the US. Therefore he is a big proponent of mobile innovation and “mobile-first” entrepreneurs like me. I am humbled by his office’s recognition and support of our mHealth effort at First Derm!
I was also lucky to have the opportunity to talk with Zachary Rothstein from Samsung, Jen Kuhn from AT&T and Verizon’s innovation team. All of these representatives echoed their company’s growing interest and excitement about the mobile health field.
Last for my DC agenda included a meeting with David Aylward, who leads global health and technology at Ashoka, a social entrepreneur network. According to their company’s vision, they are “Working in partnership with private, philanthropic and citizen sector players achieving large-scale social innovation that is grounded in decades of entrepreneurial experience. Ashoka’s mission has evolved beyond catalyzing individual entrepreneurs to enabling an “everyone a changemaker” world.”
The beauty of a platform like ours is that it also allows better patient care, but also enables local doctors to participate in that change. For example the First Derm platform is being used by African doctors to service their rural patients who would otherwise be inaccessible. For his part, David shared his feedback of First Derm, and was pleased with our emphasis in improving rural access to medical services through mobile–not just in the United States– but throughout the world.
Congrats and best of luck to the other Mobiley winners, Social Code and Volunteer Mark. It was great meeting everyone in DC, I hope our paths cross again soon. Once again, I like to give a big thanks to Mobile Future for your recognition and your support of innovators who use mobile technology for good.
Written by: Alexander Börve, MD
Specialist doctor from the University Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden, Alumni UC Berkeley. My PhD thesis is on Digital Health and I published 5 peer review scientific papers on teledermatology.