Erika Pabo wears many hats – and how she successfully manages all of them remains a mystery. Pabo is a Physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Chief Medical Officer at Hale Health, a company that connects patients and doctors outside of the clinic to help reduce unnecessary office visits and to lower costs. She also serves as an advisor for numerous healthcare incubators and start-ups. Pabo believes that the future of healthcare is at the intersection of human-care and IT, and she’s committed to transforming this complex system by uniting the two.
Pabo is also an advocate for bringing more female entrepreneurs to the healthcare IT game, complimenting the diversity that she says already exists in healthcare delivery. We caught up with Pabo to discuss global unmet needs and how entrepreneurs can work with institutions to evolve our broken healthcare system.
What gave you the inspiration to tackle a “Pandora’s box” of healthcare issues?
I pursued both Medicine and an MBA because I hoped to grasp the complexities of health and to be able to create viable business solutions for them. Through my systemic approach and clinical training, I was able to comb through broad problems and create value propositions. I enjoy practicing medicine because it keeps me connected to patients and I can test innovations firsthand. Luckily, I also have great mentors and colleagues who compliment my skill sets and act as great sounding boards.
Tell us about reverse healthcare models and some of the best practices being implemented in Boston.
People often view innovation as something that’s being initiated in developed countries like America, and then implemented in underdeveloped parts of the world. In fact, great solutions are emerging from resource limited regions – and reverse healthcare brings back the successful models to America. One such standout practice is integrating community health workers into our patient-care model. Some of our highest cost, complex patients require deep longitudinal care, and community health workers can play an integral part in their journey to wellness.
How is Brigham and Women’s Innovation Center distinguishing itself from other Boston based accelerators?
For many healthcare entrepreneurs, the hurdle is gaining access to providers and customers – so Brigham’s favorability starts there. Our frontline clinicians are hungry for IT support. Pilots that successfully emerge from our innovation hub become the new standard of care. Start-ups and entrepreneurs also recognize Brigham and Women’s Hospital as truly embracing biomedical research and disrupting the traditional model from within.
What’s your advice for young entrepreneurs who want to impact healthcare?
The Medical and MBA track at Harvard benefited me in broadening my vision and seeing the healthcare system thoroughly. I would encourage medical students to pursue a half residency training and half clinical/administrative track. Getting patient interaction is vital; however, understanding the organization and business side is crucial in creating impact.
I would further hone that for start-ups, it’s important to collaborate with people who have diverse knowledge and to focus on execution. Wellness and preventative care are taking flight, and there are opportunities for innovation in the young, motivated patient population group. Of course, for entrepreneurs breaking into the healthcare silo, affiliating with incubators and networking is also key.
This interview is part of our fall series on women in medtech. Check back in for weekly interviews with women in the medical technology field. Do you know someone who’d be a good fit for this series? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shreya specializes in health communications and is a copywriter for an advertising agency. She was previously at Bayer Healthcare, Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide
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