Patrick Soon-Shiong is a very smart guy who’s been told “no” all his life. Ignoring that, he’s now worth billions. And he wants to turn healthcare on its head.
Oh really? I don't think you can do that.
“That’s the most exciting time in life, when people tell me I can’t do that,” he says with a laugh. “I don’t know what it is about me, when you say, ‘You can’t do that,’ because then I say, ‘Well, that’s great, because then that’s exactly what I should do.’”
To achieve his goal, Dr. Soon-Shiong is spending $1 billion of a fortune he acquired building and selling drug firm APP Pharmaceuticals. With that money he is hiring the brightest minds in the world to create a smart grid for medical information. He describes it as a “Bell Labs of healthcare”, “a public utility”, and “a medical information superhighway.”
“The idea would be in my mind—and I know it sounds strange—is that the most important advances in medicine would be made not by new knowledge in molecular biology, because that’s exceeding what we can even use,” Dr. Soon-Shiong says. “It’ll be made by mathematicians, physicists, computer scientists, figuring out a way to get all that information together.”
At heart, he wants to use the internet to create a way for all of your medical information to follow you portably, encrypted securely to give you control of access, which can then be combined through the right software with the most up to date medical information relevant to your situation. He points to the way the world responded to the H1N1 virus as a model of how transparency and communication can save lives. “We need to think of chronic disease, hypertension, cancer, like H1N1,” Dr. Soon-Shiong says. “In fact, there’s an epidemic of chronic disease.” Yet currently, if you go to the doctor, who then sends you to a specialist, who maybe sends you to the hospital, “that trail of the patient today is impossible to follow, even by the physicians.” He calls the myriad of proprietary systems of medical record-keeping “medical bridges to nowhere.” The system he wants to build would bring it all together, and you could access it on your iPhone. Oh yeah, he also wants the system to make costs transparent as well. So are the health insurance companies on board with his plan? “Not really.”