A nationally recognized leader in innovations in health care, Jonathan “Jack” Lord, M.D, is actively engaged in driving change in healthcare through new technologies and therapies. Dr. Lord is a board-certified forensic pathologist and Fellow of the College of American Pathologists. He began his medical career in the U.S. Navy, serving for 11 years in a number of leadership roles in the Navy Medical Department. He later served as a senior executive in a variety of healthcare organizations – the Anne Arundel Medical Center, SunHealth, and as the chief operating officer of the American Hospital Association. Lord was the former chief innovation officer and senior vice president of Humana – during his time at Humana, he created Humana’s Innovation Center, which combined research, technology, and consumer experience to promote health and well-being. He also contributed to the field of predictive sciences by using advanced analytics to predict who will become ill in the future and how to prevent disease. Recently he served as the Chief Innovation Officer and Chief Operating Officer of the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami; he is a double alumnus of the University of Miami.
Dr. Lord also serves or has served as a member of a number of prestigious boards and organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee to the Director; the National Advisory Council for Healthcare Research and Quality, which advises the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services; and the editorial board for the International Journal of Healthcare Management. His previous academic appointments include Dartmouth Medical School, George Washington University, and the Eastern Virginia School of Medicine.
Dr. Lord focuses on the commercialization of disruptive innovations that change people’s lives; including executive and governance roles at companies that have done that – Health Dialog, Humana, Therasense, Dexcom (DXCM), Stericycle, Mako Surgical, Velano Vascular, Digital Reasoning, and Hubble Telemedical. Today, he serves as a director and chairman of the board of Biolase (BIOL). Biolase makes lasers for dentists. Oral health and diabetes are related – especially around periodontal disease. One of the growth areas in dentistry is the utilization of implants. Biolase’s lasers are unique in their ability to help treat inflammation around implants.
Dr. Lord as a director for Par8o as well as Next Ltd. He also serves on advisory board roles for LifeBridge Health, Blue Door Health, and Avellino Labs. He has earned certificates in Governance and Audit from the Harvard Business School.
Q & A with Jack:
Q: You contribute your medical and investor expertise to several startups that impact the healthcare space, what is it about Dexcom that brought you to their boardroom?
A: I actually served on the board of another company that worked in diabetes before Dexcom. Therasense was eventually acquired by Abbott and produced a “freestyle” family of devices. The principle I see in all of the companies that I advise is that they are working on a solution to people’s problems. That’s important to me in terms of letting me know they are going to be successful. The FreeStyle brand was developed for Type 1 diabetics to be able to draw small amounts of blood from areas of the body other than the fingers. This solved a problem for any patient, especially children, who used their hands in sports, music, art, computers, and so on.
New technology is great, but how do you get someone to pay for this? If you can get payers to see the savings, that’s key to securing approval to get paid for new tech. This is what helped Dexcom. They understood that building in systems of warnings and alerts to help a patient better control their levels (fewer complications for payers) is what would move them to commercialization. That kind of thinking got my attention.
Q: You’ve served as an Innovation Officer at a university for years and have experience watching startups in the diabetes space come along; what’s the recipe for innovators to move more swiftly to commercialization?
A: If they can provide a definition of critical need, then that would help. I was the Chief Innovation Officer for a Fortune 100 company and at the first meeting, a Fortune Magazine Forum, we talked about how innovation is easy for conceptualizing but keeping up with the pace of change is challenging. Just thinking of how you experience your own hospital or doctor’s visits…hasn’t changed much over time, but how we work and live our lives has changed. The paths toward commercialization are 1) regulatory, 2) practice change-challenging to get healthcare providers to change treatment habits and 3) payer-the answer to who is going to pay. The CGM idea came around the year 2000 and it just got Medicare approval in 2016. It’s a serious process.
Innovators must be relentless about safety and design, recruitment of key opinion leaders, and securing the right advisors. I like to think of it in terms of horse racing. You need your tech, IP, and therapy that solves the problem. You need your leader or jockey and your team of trainers. I have seen complications that can arise with a founder who gets what I call “founderitis,” when they have the desire to hold what they’ve built so tight that they don’t realize their skills are no longer needed. This can inhibit scaling.
Q: If there is a chance to end the diabetes epidemic globally, how do you see that happening?
A: It’s frustrating, because it is behaviors that have the impact. Some behaviors have been made acceptable. It’s going to take social awareness more than anything else. Behavior change is needed and people must feel good about it and comfortable with it. When I was working at Humana, we incentivized wellness. We rewarded customers who used pedometers or devices to help them exercise more regularly by allowing them to earn points toward getting some of their insurance premium rebated. We had the ability to predict who, among our population, would likely get sick in the future, so we put coaches or “personal nurses” around these folks. We also learned that lifestyle change doesn’t just impact the person; it impacts their family. So, the change is a family change. Habits are passed along between generations, and it becomes a huge challenge.
It’s funny, the world is upside down. We used to get paid for doing physical work; now we pay to go to a gym. Bottled water now is often more expensive than gasoline.
Q: What are your thoughts on smart therapeutics and stem cell therapies as a means to address diabetes?
A: On the discovery side, the cost of fixing genes and using other therapies can be astronomical. We can actually solve this with simple stuff. Honestly, if Americans would just take 3000 more steps a day, the Medicare Trust Fund would not go bust. Inevitably, people will need to figure out the consequences of their actions on health and finances.
Jack’s Networking Interests:
- Connect with others who are working on linking systemic disease, oral health, and technology