In Light Of The Pandemic, Here Are The 5 Things We Need To Do To Improve The US Healthcare System

An Interview With Luke Kervin

Personalized medicine — We need transparency of health information, and to get all of our records together in a seamless way that gives all healthcare providers streamlined communication that will result in increased quality of care and experiences for patients. Data generation, quality control, and transmission are key to drive personalized medicine, improve adherence and outcomes, and enable patient-centered care.


The COVID-19 Pandemic taught all of us many things. One of the sectors that the pandemic put a spotlight on was the healthcare industry. The pandemic showed the resilience of the US healthcare system, but it also pointed out some important areas in need of improvement.


In our interview series called “In Light Of The Pandemic, Here Are The 5 Things We Need To Do To Improve The US Healthcare System”, we are interviewing doctors, hospital administrators, nursing home administrators, and healthcare leaders who can share lessons they learned from the pandemic about how we need to improve the US Healthcare System.


As a part of this series, I had the pleasure to interview Vasudev Bailey, PhD.

Vasudev Bailey, PhD, is a senior partner at ARTIS Ventures where he focuses on investing in novel and breakthrough health and life sciences companies. He is the founder of the ARTIS Ventures Healthcare Pioneers, which brings together some of the world’s brightest minds to accelerate and incubate life-changing ideas in healthcare. Vasudev currently sits on 10 boards, including Eko, Excision BioTherapeutics, Outpace, Unnatural Products, Inc., Aether, IDbyDNA, Seed Health, Johns Hopkins Biomedical Engineering, and The Trevor Project.


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Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into our interview, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory and a bit about what brought you to this specific career path?


Observing and understanding what motivates and drives people has always been fascinating to me. When I was just 11 years old my mother was forced to take over my father’s business when he passed. She faced resistance from some of my father’s employees in not wanting to work for a woman and had to make quick decisions to reshape the company with people who were culturally open-minded and driven. With what remained she managed to achieve unprecedented top-line growth. That was eye-opening to me and really shaped my perspective on entrepreneurship and how companies work because it taught me that amazing ideas are one thing, but having the right support system is critical in order to make those ideas come to life.


My undergraduate experience was unique, and while I was fortunate to have multiple scholarships, I still worked three jobs to make ends meet. I graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from UC Irvine and was recognized as both a Regents and a Henry Samueli Scholar. Afterwards I went on to receive a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and was a Siebel and Medtronic Scholar. I’ve been passionate my entire life about improving healthcare and creating a more inclusive world.


My young life and school experience helped me realize that the most important aspect of a successful business is really the people in the network. All of this was further strengthened as I became a founding member of a network of 1,500 retired C-level executives from some of the biggest brand names, such as Pfizer, AstraZeneca, McDonald’s, and Walmart, a group of seasoned leaders that have the know-how or network can help accelerate any idea. Clients were current business leaders who needed the right network to execute their ideas.


The pandemic really reminded me that nothing is more important than health, and the work we are doing has the power to make a direct impact on improving healthcare for everyone. Today, as a senior partner at ARTIS Ventures, my focus is on investing in TechBio — cutting edge, category defining companies at the intersection of tech and medicine. By going after the most pervasive healthcare issues and conditions, we’re architecting solutions one disease/condition at a time. For instance, Eko (a company changing the face of cardiac and pulmonary care and advancing telemedicine), Cerebral (a company that uses technology to provide better access to mental health services and medications, and use data to help better outcomes), Excision BioTherapeutics (a company using CRISPR to cure viral infectious diseases), and Outpace (a company using computational biology and de novo protein design to engineer the next best cellular therapies for curing cancers).


Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?


I was with a senior executive who had spent 20 years at the top of a pharma company, and even though she was one of the most well-credentialed and intelligent people in the room, she was immensely frustrated at not having further upward mobility. It was a wakeup call for me that no matter what your credentials or experience, the world of business is really the world of people, and that’s what you have to learn how to navigate. This experience really changed how I view all business, realizing you need to surround yourself with the best people AND know how to work with them.


Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?


I once went to a conference taking place on a beach wearing swim wear while everyone else was in suits. I stood out like a sore thumb in the beginning, but put on my best smile and just had to own it. I’ve also booked travel for the wrong dates on more than one occasion while ending up in the airport with little time to spare and realizing I had booked the ticket for a different month. My lessons to these were all the same — learn to roll with it!


Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?


Everyone needs a mentor and a sponsor. A mentor is someone you can go to for advice or guidance, while a sponsor is someone who advocates for you when you are not in the room.


Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?


The best part of my job is the ability to work on multiple exciting projects in parallel. What inspires me both personally and professionally are things that stand to have a large-scale impact on populations around the world. Professionally I’m focused on investing in the next generation of medicine by working with companies that are tackling synthetic biology, next-gen cell and gene therapies, digital health, AI applied to medicine and tech that’s bringing change to offer better medicines and healthcare services to everyone. Personally I like to focus my time with nonprofits that offer change for people who need representation, whether it’s through my work with The Trevor Project helping address mental health in the LGBTQ+ community, or through prior work with the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) advocating for gender equity and the advancement of women in science.


How would you define an “excellent healthcare provider”?


Excellent healthcare is truly personalized medicine. An excellent healthcare provider is focused on the patient experience, not just making sure the patient feels heard in the time spent directly with the provider, but also in the care that follows. They also offer customized recommendations to every patient’s unique circumstances, rather than applying generalized medicine principles and practices. It’s about more than just a treatment plan, but about being invested in a plan that’s right for each person.


Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. The COVID-19 pandemic has put intense pressure on the American healthcare system. Some healthcare systems were at a complete loss as to how to handle this crisis. Can you share with our readers a few examples of where we’ve seen the U.S. healthcare system struggle? How do you think we can correct these specific issues moving forward?


Some of the biggest struggles we saw the American healthcare system face were around implementation, and access to, virtual care, as well as our inability to handle a rapidly spreading infectious disease.


The tools and technology for improved virtual care have existed for some time, but parts of the healthcare system have been slow to embrace them. We could have been so much further along because the inertia toward telemedicine was clear, but for a myriad of reasons we didn’t, perhaps most notably regulatory requirements that make it unnecessarily harder.


The good news is we have the tools to address these specific issues. We can continue to fund innovation, but remove regulations that applied in the 80s and 90s and look at what the world needs today. We can offer more residency spots and make licensure requirements easier to navigate. We can embrace preventative screening and non-therapeutic intervention to treatments. We can establish better collection and triangulation of data to make more informed decisions about health and treatments.


Of course, the story was not entirely negative. Healthcare professionals were true heroes on the front lines of the crisis. The COVID vaccines are saving millions of lives. Can you share a few ways that our healthcare system really did well? If you can, please share a story or example.


Without a doubt, where our system did the best was with every individual front line worker, all of whom showed up every day. No matter how scared or exhausted they became, they worked around the clock to help us all.


Here is the primary question of our discussion. As a healthcare leader can you share 5 changes that need to be made to improve the overall US healthcare system? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Access to care — Providing greater access to healthcare for ALL groups of people is one of the most critical changes needed. Reaching underserved communities, establishing greater equity in care and aligning the government, provider, payor, and investment communities is one way to start to look at health as a global problem. Just one example of this: if we had more people at the top who understood women’s health, maybe conditions like endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome wouldn’t be impacting nearly 200 million people.

  2. Personalized medicine — We need transparency of health information, and to get all of our records together in a seamless way that gives all healthcare providers streamlined communication that will result in increased quality of care and experiences for patients. Data generation, quality control, and transmission are key to drive personalized medicine, improve adherence and outcomes, and enable patient-centered care.

  3. Cost of care — Healthcare costs have risen 344% per person since 1990 and many of us have heard stories about how someone delayed medical treatment or rationed prescriptions due to the costs. We need to offer greater transparency about the cost of services, embrace telemedicine, which can be a very effective way to reduce costs of care, and do more to promote the overall health of the population which can reduce cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and so much more.

  4. Innovation pipeline — We can continue to invest in cutting-edge technology like sequencing in metagenomics. We can incentivize hospital systems to move from first-generation tech systems to gen two. Hospital margins are not great and usually under tremendous pressure so it would be great for payors to understand the overall benefits of using better technology and help them to adopt it.

  5. Regulatory refresh — As mentioned earlier, we need to get regulations that match where we are with innovation. So much of the healthcare regulations were set in the 80s and 90s and they don’t adequately address what we need TODAY.

Let’s zoom in on this a bit deeper. How do you think we can address the problem of physician shortages?


We have to make it easier for people to go to medical school, and there are lots of ways to do that. Medical school is cost-prohibitive for many, so making school more accessible is key. Increasing the number of residency spots is also crucial, as today it’s too limited and controlled. We should not only increase the number of people in the field, but also make specialty residence training more accessible.


Another more immediate solution would be to make it easier for foreign nationals to become qualified to practice medicine in the U.S.


How do you think we can address the issue of physician diversity?


People in the U.S. who are under-represented are usually not drawn to the field of medicine because of expense, but also because they aren’t being shown a path to the profession from people with similar stories. The onus is on med schools to reach out to different communities, show them why medicine is a good path, and make it easier financially.


How do you think we can address the issue of physician burnout?


All healthcare systems should utilize better technology, including removing the burden of paperwork. Currently physicians spend way too much time on that. Let’s give them the tools to let patients be their primary focus. We also need to increase the pipeline of medical professionals so institutions are better staffed and doctors have more support.


What concrete steps would have to be done to actually manifest all of the changes you mentioned? What can a) individuals, b) corporations, c) communities and d) leaders do to help?


What’s needed is systemic change, which requires multiple parties to come together. Let’s design a healthcare system around the people that have to navigate it as opposed to treating it as disparate parts.


In the innovation pipeline we need a record year of TechBio investing (TechBio is defined as an engineering-first approach of biological processes for industrial, and other purposes, especially the genetic manipulation of microorganisms for the production of antibiotics, hormones, and so on).


We also need legislation to relax where it makes sense, and hospitals to want to adopt newer and better technologies.


You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)


No more Band-Aids. Let’s reinvent everything we are doing with the idea “what does healthcare in 2030 look like?” Let’s come together to focus on equity in healthcare from a global perspective, one movement across the world with more representation of ages, gender, and diversity of thought.


How can our readers further follow your work online?


I’m on Twitter, @vasudevbailey and LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/baileyv/

Thank you so much for these insights! This was very inspirational and we wish you continued success in your great work.


This interview was originally featured in Authority Magazine and conducted by Luke Kervin here: https://medium.com/authority-magazine/vasudev-bailey-of-artis-ventures-in-light-of-the-pandemic-here-are-the-5-things-we-need-to-do-to-5067e725cef7