Bench International

Show Me the Data!

Show Me the Data!

Insight by: Dave Whelan

Can you believe that it has been over 25 years since Jerry Maguire* entered our lives? Cameron Crowe’s renegade sports agent, played brilliantly by Tom Cruise, has been part of our collective consciousness for longer than the average age of an NFL draft pick (roughly 23 years – and, yes, I had to look that up). For many of us, phrases like “You had me at ‘Hello’” are part of our playbooks. For years, a strategy consulting colleague and I used the “Help me help you” scene to begin conversations about collaboration in matrix organizations. However, I feel that the phrase that defines that movie and its characters is Jerry Maguire throwing a Hail Mary to save his relationship with his client, Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.), by repeatedly shouting “Show me the money!”

I think about that scene a lot when I meet with clients, collaborators, entrepreneurs, and leaders in the healthcare world. Show me the money. Show me the money! Except, in this case, it is a slight twist: Show me the data!

Healthcare used to be (more) simple. There was a time when the family doctor who delivered your children had known you since you were born, since he had delivered you as well, likely after knowing your parents for years. His office was next to the hospital, and all of your healthcare records were somewhere in those two buildings. Many times, the doctor would not even need to refer to those records, because he just knew: your history, your test results, what made you tick. He might not have called it data, but he had at the ready and could use it as needed.

I’m not suggesting we return to Mayberry (or even Maguire’s Los Angeles of 1996), since we have made some incredible progress over the ensuing years (including the fact that a lot of those physicians are now women). I’ve had the opportunity to work on some exciting healthcare technologies, from wearables to genomics. I’ve been able to work with entrepreneurs at the Cedars-Sinai Accelerator, Larta Institute, and other organizations. As CEO of BioscienceLA, I get to meet with some incredible innovators every day.

Whether they are building biotech, medtech, digital health, or health IT businesses, there are two common denominators. One is the patient, the end user, the ultimate beneficiary. The other is data. Rather, are data. Whether we are talking biological research in a wet lab, genomic data emerging from sequencers, data locked in electronic health records, patient-generated data, clinical trial data, environmental data, population data, insurance data, wearable data, one thing that is certain is that we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to research- and health-related data.

I saw that during my time building wearables and genomics businesses. With technologies like those, we have an ability to measure data quickly and cost-effectively. But we often don’t do enough to analyze those data. And we rarely take the steps to make those analyzed data meaningful and actionable. The problem is compounded across those disparate sets of data I just highlighted.

This resonates with my peers on the Bench International Technology Team Advisory Board. Both Debbie Lin and Jon Warner have touched on aspects of this recently, while Mamatha Shekar dug even deeper into the ownership aspects of health data. We’ve been discussing this in our BITT Advisory Board meetings, with one theme being that “data as a service” and indeed “data as a strategy” will be more and more important to healthcare innovators.

As I wrote a few years ago in a #LongLA healthcare manifesto, “The key to healthcare innovation – from life sciences and biotech to digital health to care delivery – is data. Let’s do what we can to avoid data silos. Connect the dots. Support the development of multi-faceted analytics. Allow others to leverage your findings…. Life sciences and digital health have much to learn from each other.”

In a recent conversation with the CEO of Quantgene, Jo Bhakdi put it another way when I described this “embarrassment of riches.” We are facing larger and more complex data gaps, which must be filled in order to better understand population health and develop both better treatments and better preventive measures. According to Bhakdi, there are tremendous opportunities that can be unlocked through data, especially the diverse data that exist across the diverse population in the LA region. Quantgene and its partners are working on some new initiatives that will directly benefit LA population – and eventually benefit world’s population – and I look forward to sharing more here soon.

In the meantime, I will continue to shout, sing, and tweet, “Show me the data,” and I hope that you will join me. As a wise businessman who had recently penned his own manifesto once said, “Help me help you.”

*I would be remiss not to mention that I had a privilege of hearing Leigh Steinberg, Cameron Crowe’s inspiration for Jerry Maguire, speak at UCLA Anderson School many years ago. While he is as vivid a personality as Tom Cruise’s character, he insists that he never used the phrase, “Show me the money!” That’s Hollywood for you.