Last week was big. The type of big that can only come from months of focused work towards one goal. The type of big that is experienced when the whole of your team is greater than the sum of its parts. The type of big that…produces the feeling that things have finally ‘clicked’.
Our company was invited to LAUNCH Festival this year to participate as one of the eleven startups to participate in the Health/Biotech Summit — meaning we were invited to present on stage to thousands of attendees, meet potential partners/investors, and demo our product in a booth for anyone to try.
In addition to having our — growing — team bond and rally around the opportunity, I was blessed enough to be invited to participate in LAUNCH’s inaugural class of Founders University. Founders University is a two day educational experience for founders who have launched a product, but have not raised a Series A round of financing yet. The program was open to 25 founders and featured amazing speakers like Casey Winters, Rishi Garg, and Clara Brenner.
There was certainly a lot learned from the speakers, but the real value in Founders University was having two full days of time and space to meet the other founders that were in the room. There were some familiar faces, but mostly new people from all over the world. It is increasingly inspiring to meet people that are so passionate about an idea, that they risk their livelihoods to brute force it into existence. Founders University was a great forcing function to meet some of these types of people and I am very grateful to have been involved.
Big thank you to Jason and the LAUNCH team for being extremely professional, and creating a platform for startups to showcase their work — for free! If you are a founder and get the opportunity to go to LAUNCH, do it! ✌🏾
Life often demands that you be fast in everything you do. If not, you’ll fall behind. This rapid pace creates a lot of pressure and causes your emotions to get the better of you. In the end, this can crush mental freedom, making you anxious, stressed, or depressed.
If this is happening to you, it’s time to take a step back. You can’t be the best version of yourself if your mind is not fully healthy. So, in order to speed up, you first need to slow down. Here are some ways you can start doing that:
Understand It’s a Step-by-Step Process
Whether you are suffering from depression, high levels of stress, substance abuse, or something in between, your mental health woes are not going to go away overnight. Like physical fitness, mental fitness takes time — and practice. So, breathe easy, map out a plan and identify a first step to jump start this process.
Find Something to Help You Relax
It’s crucial to devote time to relaxation. Whether you walk in the park, meditate or read, the health benefits of relaxation are enormous. A significant amount of studies have shown relaxation helps with anxiety, stress, insomnia and other issues. Note: Relaxation does not mean sitting on the sofa with a bag of potato chips; it means performing proven relaxation techniques, like deep breathing exercises, guided imagery and meditation.
Have Support Around You
You need someone to talk to about your emotions, as this will help you work through your issues and see better solutions. This person must be able to identify with or be empathetic to your experience. That’s why many mental health experts recommend support groups. Support groups are available all over for all sorts of problems and illnesses. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), for instance, is the largest support group of its kind in the country, and is a great resource for learning more about mental illnesses, finding support, and getting involved to help raise awareness.
Make Use of Technology
Technology is involved in every facet of life, and it should be involved in getting mentally healthy. Your smartphone can provide you with the personal connections, information or the guidance you need. There are many mental health apps out there that provide support; from apps that help deal with school bullying to platforms teaching cognitive behavioral therapy skills. If you want to connect with licensed therapists, for instance, download the Level Therapy app. Or, if you want to find community by communicating with others suffering from the same diagnosis, check out the Big White Wall community.
Once you’ve implemented your plan for getting emotionally healthy, you’ll begin to reap the rewards. By slowing down and taking time to focus on your well-being, you’ll feel better and start clicking on all cylinders. Before you know it, doing all these things listed above will be second nature, and you can go on to be the most productive you.
Deregulation and instability in the healthcare industry have lead to a system of acute friction, confusion, and inequality. The obvious and sad part about this fact is that it was designed to be that way. Incentives are not aligned throughout the system, and the cost of this lack of alignment is our health.
Providers are paid/reimbursed per appointment and are thus, inherently incentivized to see you as much as possible — versus being incentivized to increase the outcomes of your treatment. Payers — insurance companies — are incentivized to provide you the cheapest treatment option for a plan that you may or may not have selected yourself — ultimately we all choose our own plans, but opting into one from a small range of employer selected plans drastically decreases the probability of us opting into the plan that best aligns with our needs. Lastly, the government — historically — has been incentivized to capitulate to the wants of the healthcare industry because capitulation lead to short-term growth and profits. This is called regulatory capture — meaning the businesses that are being regulated are, in fact, running the regulators.
What are the wants of the healthcare industry you ask? Deregulation, advantageous fiscal policy, etc. Regulations are the rules of the game that are designed to make our systems work better — to ensure competition, to prevent abuses, to protect those who cannot protect themselves . It is easy to see why healthcare — and other analogous industry — executives would be in favor of deregulation. The issue is that deregulation is a tool to be executed under certain conditions, not a means to grow our economy, as it has corrosive effects to our society and creates a vicious cycle of instability <> inequality, in the long run. Deregulation lends corporations a shortsighted interest to act in favor of the wealthy — rent seekers — instead of the public, which should intrinsically be the focus of companies operating in healthcare. Healthcare is increasingly becoming a public good — in the economics sense — and should be treated as such. Presently in America, it is not. There are currently 3,100 healthcare lobbyist. The most of any industry in the U.S. 12 of the top 20 healthcare lobbyist represent either pharmaceutical or insurance companies. So it is no surprise, Americans are hooked on prescription drugs — namely opioids although this is beginning to change — and the payers act as gatekeepers for deciding who will receive treatment and at what cost. This is perversely and morally out of line.
As the co-founder and CEO of a digital health company, this state of affairs concerns me…deeply. On the one hand, I can see how corporate executives would employ these tactics. Theory said they would lead to growth, and there was little historic economic data for opposers to truly push back, thus there was a strong onslaught from the right AND left in the 70’s through the 90’s. But on the other hand, we now have the benefit of economic data and know that our policies have lead to the largest Gini coefficient in American history, social unrest, and rising healthcare costs per capita. Here’s a little history lesson. After the Great Depression, the New Deal was enacted to stabilize and regulate the economy, and there were zero American market crashes through the last New Deal administration — Nixon. What happened after Nixon’s administration? In short, an organized offensive from the wealthy on the lesser classes of America. The enlightenment and progressiveness of the 60’s were perceived as a danger to the status quo, to the way things had been done and the people that benefitted from the way things had been done. Two supreme court decisions helped promote the rent seeking agenda. Buckley vs. Vale (1976) which ruled that money is a form of speech, and Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission (2010) which ruled that the right of free speech as corporations cannot be curtailed. Think about that. Now companies created in the United States are viewed under the law are persons and can leverage their immense purchasing power and are protected under the 14th amendment. This is part of the reason we see lobbying to the degree we do today, as well as super PACs trying to engineer elections. You can see why it shouldn’t be a surprise that Donald Trump is a candidate for the Presidency, his interest are aligned with those of the other super wealthy, and I have little doubt that, if elected, his policies will most certainly contribute to perpetuating the increasing levels of inequality in our country.
Economic policy is health policy and vice-versa. The policies we have put into place are — physically, monetarily, and otherwise — hurting the majority of Americans, and I believe there is causation between the rising levels of inequality and per capita healthcare costs. As founders, early employees, and investors of digital health companies, I believe we have a responsibility to understand the economic role that regulations play. The Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 was enacted as a response to the failure of banks during the Great Depression, and it served the country well. Is the Affordable Care Act our quasi-version of the Glass-Steagall Act? Perhaps. Certainly, as we move forward in the digital health revolution that is upon us, it will serve us well to remember that deregulation, and the use of tools inherent to technology as regulatory hacks, hold the potential to lead to treacherous places, like...a bubble.