- by Health Founders
Meet Ksenia Kapoor, one of the lead mentors at Health Founders, who is helping to build the next generation of health economy companies. Ksenia is a graduate of TalTech and a digital health specialist with a broad experience in the healthcare market of the US.
She is working for tech startups with focus on scaling the business and building its processes, supporting cross-functional teams, managing product and everything in between.
How did you get into digital health?
I have been in the healthcare industry for 12+ years and the last 8 years in digital health working on challenges from healthcare pricing transparency to value based care delivery. To say that healthcare was a deliberate choice at first would probably be an overstatement. It just happened to be the job where I saw the most impact. It has always been important for me to see the impact. I started in a completely different field as a reporter for Estonian Television and could see there how we were changing people’s lives by shedding light on important topics. And the healthcare industry is similar in that way. We impact patients’ day-to-day lives whether we are doing something as mundane as accounting ledgers or revolutionizing migraine treatment. And that’s what made me stay in the industry.
Besides mentoring at Health Founders, what is it that you do?
After spending 6 years in the value based care innovation world, just this week I started full time job helping a fantastic team at Unite Us make technical operations more efficient. Unite Us is a unique player in the US healthcare market working to connect social determinants of health with general wellbeing and healthcare outcomes of the individuals. To the previous question about challenges and operating in silos, we are making connections here between what is happening in an individual’s life (food insecurity, homelessness, etc) and how it impacts their health. I think this ability to look at an individual holistically and not just focus on a single diagnosis is the future of healthcare and the digital health industry as a whole.
What is most challenging about being in digital health industry?
Being the process person, I find the inefficiency of the industry most challenging. We work on solving for important issues but often do so in silos or we lack data exchanges to make our products more impactful. Part of it at least in the US where I reside is the lack of Federal commitment to having a unique identifier for the patients. Estonia is much much further ahead in that area making for it for a much better connected system. Aside from that when we talk about the private world, places like Health Founders I think can help solve the problem of operating in silos. What we are really doing here is creating an ecosystem of startup teams, scientists, universities, mentors that can help collaborate, compliment each others’ skills and research and solve challenges in a much more efficient manner.
How would you characterize your mentoring techniques?
You should really ask my mentees:) In general, the main principle is to meet teams where they are in their journey, not where I am. It is essential for teams to maintain their passion, find a path and make mistakes along the way. I really try to guide and ask uncomfortable questions but not interfere in their day-to-day operations. In the end of the day, my goal is to have the team feel and know that they made their decisions and chose the path. I apply the same principles in parenting my sons, by the way.
What kind of impact do you hope to have as a mentor?
Two things here. First, I hope the teams can come out of this engagement seeing a bigger picture: how do they fit in the healthcare ecosystem, how they depend on others in the industry, who they can partner with and honestly, which paths are potentially not a great fit. Second, there is nothing more important than the team itself. If by the end of the journey with Health Founders, companies come out with a balanced team or at least with an understanding of what skill sets they need to hire for to not just aim for the sky but to have a team to build the rocket to reach the sky, we have done our job.
What is the value of vertical accelerators such as Health Founders?
It’s a hard question as I am pretty categorical here. I don’t think healthcare startups can thrive in non-industry specific accelerators. Of course, there are exceptions but for the most part let’s not forget why we are here. Healthcare industry is special and it requires a special kind of people, be it investors, lawyers, software engineers, scientists to commit to impacting patients’ lives. And the accelerator support system for the teams has to be tailored to understand the value our decisions, funding, training bring to the healthcare community as a whole. Digital Health is not just about business, it’s about impact.