Health Tech Matters

Google vet launches an app for patients to record their doctor's notes, as more Silicon Valley execs migrate from tech to health

Key Points
  • Mecorder is a new free app, launching this week. 
  • It was started by the Google veteran David Weekly, who got the idea after several family-members were diagnosed with cancer. 
  • Weekly is one of many in Silicon Valley who are flocking from technology to health. 
The team from Medcorder

David Weekly is a veteran of the technology sector who built his career at Facebook and Alphabet.

He had no intention of working in health care until multiple members of his family were diagnosed with cancer. Through the experience of supporting their care, he witnessed a number of problems with the medical system before settling on trying to solve one of them.

Weekly is part of a massive trend of talent migrating from the tech industry to the health sector. For many of these folks, it's motivated by a personal experience that showed them how the current health care system could be improved.

Investors have poured about $30 billion into start-ups at the intersection of health and technology since 2011. Most of these and tools have been focused on helping hospitals, health plans and other industry stakeholders. Weekly's is a rare example that is focused on improving the experience of health care for consumers.

With the free Medcorder app, which launched on Friday, patients can essentially use it to record the visit, and listen to it or share it with their family later.  Weekly said he started the app as a tribute to his father, who passed away from cancer.

Weekly doesn't claim to be a medical expert. Until January, he was the head of product for Google's data center software, and before that was a product manager. He freely admits that he "knows very little about medicine, but does know a lot about data." And unlike most health-tech entrepreneurs, he doesn't expect to build a business selling into health systems or self-insured employers. Instead, he's hoping to offer premium services via the app, such as a recommendation for a second opinion, which patients or their family-members will be willing to pay for.

Until January of this year, was the head of product for Google's datacenter software. Prior to that, he was a product manager at Facebook.

One possible barrier to the product is that the physician needs to approve. Not all of them will. Efforts to get doctors to share notes taken during a consult, such as OpenNotes, were resisted by doctors who feared liability or offending patients.

But Weekly thinks that many doctors will consent, especially if they realize that patients aren't necessarily absorbing their conversations in the moment. Studies have found that patients often do not understand discharge instructions after they leave the emergency room, in part because doctors use too much jargon. It's also common for patients to miss certain advice after receiving bad news. On the other hand, some doctors don't really listen to their patients, making communication harder.

He's recruited others from the tech world to work with him on Medcorder, including Anna Western, a former designer for Facebook's internal tools. This week, he raised a small financing round for Medcorder from Future Ventures, the new venture fund started by Steve Jurvetson after he was ousted from his firm, and his partner Maryanna Saenko, as well as Eric Ries from the Lean Start-Up movement, among others.

Other high-profile examples of tech folks moving into health care include George Zachary, a notable investor in Twitter, who launched a bio fund after a cancer scare, and the Google exec Adrian Aoun, who started a primary care network after his family-members got sick. Likewise, Stephanie Tilenius left Google in a senior role to found a chronic disease management app after years spent juggling work with taking care of her ailing father.

Tech giants are eating away at various segments in health, expert says
Tech giants are eating away at various segments in health, expert says