Oct 28

Emergency Department documentary “Code Black” Nov 12th

We will feature “Code Black”, an award-winning documentary about America’s busiest Emergency Department in our November 12, 2014 Seattle Health Innovation Meetup from 5:00-7:30. (see trailer at http://codeblackmovie.com). This event is being sponsored by WebMD and is held in the same building where their Seattle development team is located.

#4 - Jamie Eng, M.D. with patient in CODE BLACK, a Long Shot release 2014

According to the film’s promotional materials, “the documentary follows a team of young doctors-in-training as they wrestle openly with both their ideals and with the realities of saving lives in a complex and overburdened system.” Their training ground is Los Angeles County Hospital’s legendary trauma bay “C-booth”. “CODE BLACK offers a tense, doctor’s-eye view, right into the heart of the healthcare debate – bringing us face to face with America’s only 24/7 safety net.”  After watching the 80 minute movie we’ll have a chance to talk about it.

#3 - Danny Cheng, M.D., Dave Pomeranz, M.D.,  Ryan McGarry, M.D., Billy Mallon, M.D. at bedside in CODE BLACK, a Long Shot Factory release 2014

CODE BLACK was the Best Documentary winner at Los Angeles Film Festival and the Hamptons International Film Festival. It also was the Audience Award Winner at both Denver Starz Film Festival and Aspen FilmFest.

This is a free event but space is very limited and an RSVP is required for admission. Please RSVP  at http://www.meetup.com/seattle-health-innovation-forum to reserve your seat. I expect that we’ll reach maximum capacity well before the event, and we might not have room for walk-ins. Please RSVP to get on the attendee list before coming to this one.

Please note that this event is being held at the 705 Union Station Building at 705 5th Ave S Seattle 98104. This will be the first time the Seattle Health Innovator meetup is held at this venue. It is in the International District. The office complex is just south of the historic Union Station and is located upstairs from the International District/China Town stop in the bus tunnel.

I look forward to seeing you there.


Ed Butler


Oct 16

What are Seattle’s Digital Health Startup Leaders Talking About?

During the summer of 2014, the Seattle Health Innovation Forum’s program planning team explored some of the most interesting new digital health companies in our area. We recruited 9 leaders from these organizations to lead the September Forum’s structured networking event. In a departure from the panels and pitches so frequently encountered at meetups we wanted a more active experience to tap the collective energy of the community. We asked CEOs and COOs from these 9 companies chose key topics for individual and small group discussions.


The answer to the question- “what would you like to talk about?” resulted in the following topics:

  • Electronic Health Record data integration
  • The post-EHR healthcare environment
  • Predictive analytics for health risk stratification
  • Operational excellence in digital health
  • Mobile health in emerging markets
  • Personalized medicine: using genomics to guide therapies
  • Digital support for people with diabetes
  • How can Seattle healthcare startups break into the existing insurance broker and employer markets?

After hearing what each of these digital health leaders were interested in talking about we dispersed into small groups to explore each topic. Participants included investors, entrepreneurs, employees of local healthcare providers, design firms, and individual community members interested in meeting others with an interest in transforming health and health care.

Our purpose was to allow participants to meet new people, encounter new ideas, and to help build the relationships that will lead to a stronger health innovation ecosystem. In the weeks since the event I’ve heard from a number of participants who subsequently had follow-up meetings with people they met at the event. The program committee is now planning future events ranging from population health to emergency services. To join the distribution list for future events please sign up on our Meetup site.

The September Health Innovation event was sponsored by SURF Incubator, Tactile Design, and Solomon Consulting, and was made possible through the work of volunteers Brady Ryan, Miwa Monji, John Foy, Scott Kennedy, Chelsea Steinborn, Ed Butler,  Martin Suchorolski, Manin duBois, and Gareth Best.

Aug 26

Seattle Health Innovation Forum is Sept 25

IMG_3835_thumb.jpgMuch has happened since our May meetup and we’d like to talk with you about it. The September forum will be a highly participative networking event. After our opening comments and community announcements, we’ll have brief introductions from leaders from some of Seattle’s most innovative companies, learn what they are interested in, and then break into discussion areas to discuss what’s happening across different sectors of the industry.

Audience members will be people from startup companies, provider organizations, investors, consultants, and people new to the area wanting to find out what’s happening in health innovation.  

Thursday Sept 25, 2014  5:30-7:30 pm at the DICE Cabana, 821 Second Ave room 410 (ground level on 2nd Ave) Seattle WA 98104


5:30 – 5:45 Arrival, food, refreshments

5:45 – 6:00 Welcome and community announcements

6:00 – 6:15 Topic leader introductions

6:15 – 7:15  Breakout discussion & networking

7:15 – 7:30  Report-outs from breakout sessions

Early bird registration: The $10 registration fee covers the costs of the venue, food, and refreshments.  This a grass-roots, volunteer-run event.

Register here.


Jun 27

From concept to sustainable growth- lessons from the health sciences startup community

panel photo

The May 2014 Seattle Health Innovation Forum featured presentations and a panel discussion about taking health innovations from the concept state through the long journey to successful implementation and sustainable growth. This month marks the one year anniversary of the formation of the Health Innovation forum and this panel discussion was an active demonstration of the talented innovators who live and work here. The panel, from left to right pictured above, included Chuck Murry, MD PhD of the University of Washington’s Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, Don Rule, CEO of Translational Software, Jo Masterson, COO of 2Morrow, Inc., John Foy, MD, medical informaticist, and Lance Stewart,  PhD, Senor Director of Strategy for the University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design.

The areas of expertise covered by this panel was quite broad, from the genetic reprogramming of stem cells into living human heart muscles, pharmacogenomics reports to help physicians prescribe drugs personalized to patient DNA,  mobile apps helping consumers adopt healthier behaviors, and synthetic protein structures that can block influenza and attach cancer cells.  John Foy, as the moderator, focused the discussion on 4 themes:  (1) how they managed the clinical trials process, (2) how technology transfer agreements both helped and hindered the innovation process, (3) how they managed the multi-sided business models so common in healthcare, and (4) their experience in attracting and retaining the best human capital.

The panel agreed that clinical trial management is best handled by institutions that are already geared up for managing the FDA approval processes. Technology Transfer agreements are necessary to the process of getting ideas originating in federally funded research from the research institutions into the commercial world. It has led to the vibrant life sciences industry. However, over the past decades since the law was changed to allow universities to commercialize these breakthroughs it has created a bureaucratic process whereby “concepts” are overvalued by those who license them-  the problem of selling an acorn but charging for finished lumber. These issues are solvable but require time and skillful negotiation.by those whose primary interest is driving progress. The panel agreed that the presence in Seattle of world-class research institutes in the life sciences is attracting very strong talent from around the world.

When Dr. Foy asked the final question-  “what can we do to help” , Lance Stewart responded to the audience-  “keep doing this”.

Planning is now underway for the next Seattle Health Innovation Forum to be held in late July or early August.

Apr 11

Consumer Health Innovation Lessons Learned

photo 2 panel

The March 5, 2014 Seattle Health Innovation Forum focused on lessons learned by some of the area’s leading pioneers in in consumer health and wellness. We had a reasonably good turnout- about 57-  in spite of a rainstorm, traffic gridlock and the prior week’s service outage at Meetup.Com.

Marcelo Calbucci, Julie Keintz, and Rebecca Norlander each shared their insights in how to most effectively reach consumers and to achieve positive health behavior changes. Marcello kicked it off with a provocative list of “pet peeves” from having worked in this space for a number of years.  Julie shared some of the exciting work done at the University of Washington’s Human Centered Design program, and Rebecca gave us a front row seat view of her startup just as they are gaining traction and starting to achieve national visibility.

Anne Weiler, CEO of Wellpepper, took wonderful notes and did a great recap in her blog at this link.

Last week the volunteer Seattle Health Innovation forum program committee discussed lessons learned from this event. Our purpose in organizing these forums is to continue to help build a community of people and companies who want to make a difference in healthcare. Things we think we did well include

  • drawing on our individual networks of relationships and collectively deciding who to invite
  • having a unifying theme for these different presentations followed by a brief panel discussion
  • maintaining the balance between formal program and informal networking time. The presentations and panel served to stimulate additional networking among audience members.

Areas where we see opportunities for improvement include-

  • having more non-alcoholic drink choices. 4 varieties of beer and one variety of bottled water was not balanced
  • video recording presentations so that they can be streamed later. We are exploring ways to raise money to do this and volunteers who are interested in helping.
  • improving the lighting on the stage

Our next event will be announced soon. Please reserve May 6, 2014 at 5:30pm at the SURF Incubator in downtown Seattle. For details and to get on the distribution please sign up on our our meetup.com page: http://www.meetup.com/Seattle-Health-Innovation-Forum/

Feb 12

Medical innovation: from research lab to sustainable clinical practice

Our May forum is an opportunity to meet leading innovators and hear about their work to take advances from research labs into clinical use and commercial success. Join us in downtown Seattle on May 6, 2014 from 5:30pm-8:00pm. This is the next step in our efforts to bring people together from different health sectors and to draw inspiration from each other’s work, whether in life sciences, Health IT, care delivery, healthcare finance, and other areas. These respected leaders will describe their projects, share their insights, and respond to audience questions:

Jo Masterson

Jo Masterson is a cofounder and Chief Operating Officer for 2Morrow, Inc, a Seattle based mobile software company who specializes in “mobilizing behavior change”. Jo will talk about her work with a clinical trial with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to commercialize the first Smartphone-delivered, smoking cessation app that is scientifically proven to help smokers quit. Recently 2Morrow was chosen for a $250,000 Washington Life Sciences Discovery Fund  grant to pilot a new program based on this research.


Charles (Chuck) Murry, MD, PhD is Co-director of the University of Washington Institute for Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine (ISCRM), Professor of Pathology, and Director of the Center for Cardiovascular Biology.  His research in the growth of healthy heart tissue from stem cells promises a new option for millions of people suffering from heart failure. He is currently building a biotech spin-off company based on this exciting research.


Don Rule

Don Rule is the CEO of Translational Software which he founded in 2009 to accelerate the use of molecular diagnostics in clinical settings. Earlier roles for Don include a stint as CTO for Genelex, various program management roles at Microsoft, and Director of IT for a division of Dun & Bradstreet. Translational Software was bootstrapped in the SURF incubator in 2013 and has become a fast growing and profitable business. The company offers a SaaS platform that transforms genetic data into actionable guidance for physicians with detailed reports about the genetic implications of drugs personalized to each patient’s genetic profile.


lance stewart

• Lance Stewart, PhD, MBAis the Senior Director of Strategy for the Institute for Protein Design (IPD) at the University of Washington (UW).  The basic and translational research investigators of the IPD are global leaders in crowd-sourcing protein design through FoldIT and Rosetta-at-home; using computational protein design to create a whole new world of synthetic proteins to address challenges in medicine, energy, and technology. Lance co-founded Emerald Bio in 1998 as a UW spin-out company.  He is also a co-founder of the Northwest NeuroNeighborhood, a member of WINGS Washington medical technology angel investor network, and board member of Tetra Discovery Partners.

Tuesday May 6, 2014  5:30-8:00pm


5:30 – 6:00 Networking, food, refreshments

6:00 – 6:15 Community announcements

6:15 – 7:30 Presentations, Panel, and Q&A

7:30 – 8:00 more networking

Register Now. The $10 registration fee covers the costs of the venue, food, and refreshments.  This a grass-roots, volunteer-run event.


The forum will be held in The Exchange Building at 821 Second Avenue, Seattle WA 98104 on the corner of 2nd Ave and Marion. Exchange Blg

Please note that the doors to the Exchange Building automatically lock at 6pm. After 6:00 please knock on the 2nd Avenue door or call us. The meeting room is the “Dice Cabana”, on the right as you enter the 2nd avenue lobby just past Tully’s coffee shop. If you are entering from 1st avenue before 6 take the elevator to the 4th floor and it will be across the lobby.

Parking, Public Transit

Paid evening parking  is available at the First & Spring deck on 1st Ave between Spring and Union (must pay by 5:30 but it is open til 10). There are also 2 parking decks at 1st and Columbia, with other parking options closer to Pioneer Square.

Public Transit is an easy way to get here. For bus routes enter “2nd and Marion” as your destination using http://tripplanner.kingcounty.gov/. It is a short walk to dozens of King Metro routes that frequent nearby bus stops on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd streets. The University  and Pioneer Square transit stations are just a few blocks away for convenient access to bus routes and lite rail. Frequent Eastside routes, such as the 550 from Mercer Island and Bellevue use the freeway’s bus lanes for quick access to downtown during rush hour.

About Us

The Seattle Heath Innovation Forum is a grass-roots community comprised of people interested in health and biotech startups, healthcare institutions, research organizations, and other Seattle area companies who want to transform health and healthcare. Please  join the mailing list and RSVP at www.meetup.com/seattle-health-innovation-forum

Jan 28

Crowdsourcing the design of new molecules to improve healthcare and the environment

John Foy and I recently visited the The University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design (IPD) as part of the Seattle Health Innovators program committee’s effort to build bridges between the downtown Seattle tech startup community and the biotechnology and biomedical luminaries in the area.  The UW Medicine Advancement Office was kind enough to make arrangements for us to visit the lab in mid-January.Ed and John at IPD

IPD scientists are designing synthetic proteins to help with diagnostics, therapeutics, CO2 fixation, and to create new drug delivery platforms.  We spoke with scientists working on new drug delivery mechanisms to treat cancer, neurological disorders, and influenza.

In addition to having brilliant scientists on staff, they are using a volunteer network that makes available unused processing power of idle computers and also taps the brainpower of gamers who enjoy folding proteins in an online game.

David Baker is head of the IPD and gave us a tour of the eponymous Baker Laboratory that combines computer modeling, synthetic DNA, and the output of living biological organisms. The Baker Lab created  the Rosetta software suite for predicting and Rosetta proteindesigning protein structures, protein folding mechanisms, and protein-protein interactions. The analysis is computationally intensive, requiring massive computer resources. This has been accomplished through the  Rosetta@home community of over 370,000 participants.  This enables all these people to make their computers available to support this ground-breaking research.

In addition to Rosetta, the lab has created Fold-It, an online protein folding game that encourages users to “solve puzzles for science”. This game now has a global community with teams competing with each other for designing new shapes that may be relevant to diseases including HIV/AIDS, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. According to Dr. Baker, even non-biochemists have been able to use fold-it  to not only increase their understanding of proteins but also to make significant progress in discovering new self-assembling shapes that may have practical use.

The Baker lab itself is remarkable.  Entering the lab one sees a space divided in half. On the left is a studio of designers Baker lab software engineersworking at their desks with large monitors. It looked like a dozen other design studios I have seen in Seattle. But on the right, visible through the glass wall, was a biochemistry lab, with counters full of equipment and shelves packed with clear jars of mysterious fluids and bacteria cultures.

The protein designers work with Rosetta software to come up with a hypothetical design for how a protein molecule with a desired self-assembling structure could be constructed from a sequence of specific amino acids. The software then allows the Institute to order the genes for that sequence to be created by a DNA lab.  When the synthesized DNA comes back they put it into bacteria which then produce the new protein structures. Baker wet labThis allows the Institute to discover which of their designs can actually work in the physical world.  Electron microscopy can magnify these new proteins to view the new structures at the atomic level. These images can be quite beautiful, as can be seen in the video link below.

The scientific mission of the institute has been funded through a variety of public and private grants. However, the Institute is also an incubator of new biotech startups.  We spoke with Neil King, a post-doctoral fellow who plans to launch a company to commercialize a new protein that can be used as a platform for drug delivery. It has an elegant structure that allows a drug payload, such as a chemotherapy drug, to be sent harmlessly John Foy, Ed Butler, Neil Kingthrough the body until it connects with a targeted cell, whereupon it releases the drug only to that cell. This mechanism could open new possibilities for targeted therapies for cancer and Alzheimer’s.  Another project at the Institute is a protein that can attach to the influenza virus. The commercial potential of a more effective way to treat people with influenza is  very promising.

The Seattle area is home to spectacular innovation in health and life sciences. This is an emerging trend that builds on Puget Sound’s aerospace and information technology base. At the IPD we saw that the boundaries between computer science, healthcare, energy, materials science, and life sciences are becoming harder to draw.

For more information about the Institute for Protein Design, including images of some of their molecules see their Facebook page.  For a more detailed explanation directly from David Baker, see this link from the UW Molecular Engineering & Sciences Symposium, 2013.


Jan 24

Can UW reprogram skin cells to become heart cells? Yes.

In January John Foy,MD and I (shown in photo below)  had an opportunity to visit the Institute for  Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine of the University of Washington School of Medicine in the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle. What we saw there has given me a new perspective on the convergence of genomics, robotics, and the future of medicine.


John and I were hosted by Charles Murry, MD, PhD,  Director of the Center for Cardiovascular Biology and a Professor at the School of Medicine. This research is at the forefront of medical advances in the use of stem cells to produce new heart muscle cells.  Dr. Murry explained that people with damaged heart tissue currently have few therapeutic options.  He observed that there have been no new drugs in 15 years for heart failure. Heart transplants are an option for some patients but the supply of donors is constrained and the costs are very high, and so there are only about 2,000 transplants in the US per year. Because there are between 5-6 million heart failure patients, transplantation is not a viable option for most. A second option is the Left Ventricular Assist Device, or LVAD, which can extend the life of a patient  but carries significant risks of blood clots, stroke, and other complications.  Regenerative medicine – using artificially grown cells –  to repair damaged heart tissue is a third option.  Like a transplant, it would mean that the patient would face a lifetime of suppressed immune response to prevent rejection of the new heart cells, but it would presumably have cost savings and better outcomes than either of the current options. They are striving towards human clinical trials and then for use in mainstream practice.

We saw early mouse embryos (blastocysts, the stage where embryonic cells can be derived), which are about the same size as Roosevelt’s eye on the dime. We saw embryonic stem cells, derived from human blastocysts “left over” from fertility clinics, which Dr. Murry says can divide forever and turn into any cell type in the body. In addition to the embryonic cells, Dr. Murry extracted some of his own cells from in the skin of his arm to be regressed – through genetic manipulation –  from mature skin cells back to create a new stem cell line. From that point these former skin cells have been genetically programmed to become real human heart muscles. I saw heart muscle cells beating in a dish during this tour. The Institute has engineered 3D pieces of beating human heart muscles from these cells. It was truly an amazing sight.

ISCRM1-psThe purpose of our trip was to explore collaborative opportunities across the health innovation community in Seattle.  The hour we spent at the Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine (ISCRM- pronounced as “ice cream”) provided strong confirmation that this potential is very real. Like most of the denizens of the Seattle startup community, the people at ISCRM are increasingly thinking and acting like entrepreneurs. The Heart Regeneration Program is becoming the equivalent of a biotech startup with about 8 employees. They recruited new talent, including Scott Thies, PhD, from Fate Therapeutics in San Diego to provide business leadership for this venture. Their goal is to be ready for a Phase 1 clinical trial in 4 years.  This is a strategic shift beyond their historical reliance on state and federal grant funding. The transformation of the Heart Regeneration Program from academic research to a biotech startup is evidence that the entrepreneurial climate in this area is, like their cells, alive and growing.

Another aspect of  convergence that readers of this blog may appreciate is the use of advanced robotics to discover the right recipes for achieving the reprogramming of stem cells. Tim Martins, PhD demonstrated the Quellos High Throughput Screening Core, a shared facility that serves many of the programs at ISCRM and other organizations. Because of this technology, a brute force approach can be taken to test every possible combination of certain reagents and concentrations.

The process of programming human stem cells –  which Dr. Murry called “stem cell wrangling” – is on the frontier of medical science. It might not be too great a stretch to see it as engineering of the human platform.

Jan 21

2014 Seattle Health Innovation Meetup Survey Results


The Seattle Health Innovation Forum was organized by Ed Butler and Jessica Chao  in the Spring of 2013 to bring together people with an interest in health innovation from Seattle’s community of startups, health institutions, investors, and life sciences . Sparks of creativity can occur when bringing people from diverse backgrounds together. Health innovation opens the door to the incredible variety of talent in the Seattle area who are working on initiatives in life sciences, hospitals, clinics, health and wellness centers, and other areas. As a grass roots organization we were entirely funded through the $10 meeting fees from attendees and are grateful for the venue sponsorship by the SURF Incubator.

2013 forums included such topics as Population Health Management, Quantified Self, Big Data, Global Health, Clinical Trials, Health Startup Success stories, and most recently the program on non-profit healthcare ventures held with the Seattle Health 2.0 Chapter. We have had the opportunity to hear from some of the most exciting initiatives in the industry, and also to network with each other.



This chart shows our membership distribution (n-262) at the time of the analysis (October). The membership is currently over 310.

Here are the reasons why members have said they attend:


In December  2013 we  formed a program committee to take a deeper dive into the needs of the Seattle Health Innovation community. This diverse team of 10 volunteers are individually associated with providers, a payer, startups, a trade association, and the University of Washington. We have met twice in the past month to plan events for the coming year.  We reviewed the information from member’s profile pages to create an aggregate view of member characteristics shown in the chart above. In the spirit of customer-centered design, we brainstormed  personas representing the diversity of our membership, including investors, entrepreneurs, Health IT vendors, clinical providers, and a biotech/medical device developer. From these personas we crafted an online survey and are now planning out themes for 2014 Health Innovator programs.

The January survey was sent to members of the Seattle Health Innovators to learn about their interests, their preferences in venue and meeting format.  We asked respondents to rank order topic areas of interest. The top subject areas are, in order of preference, as follows:

  1. Healthcare Delivery Innovation
  2. Consumer Health and Wellness Tech
  3. Healthcare Industry Opportunities Overview
  4. Population Health Management
  5. Investing in Health Innovation
  6. Consulting and Design Best Practices

We are now working to define programs in these areas for the upcoming year.

Member preferences in meeting format overwhelmingly endorsed events that combine networking with panels and speakers (97%). Mid-week evenings with light food and drink were preferred by 89% of respondents.

Downtown Seattle was the “highly” preferred location by 63% of the respondents, followed by South Lake Union at 41% and Capitol Hill at 39%.

Next Steps

We are very optimistic about 2014 as a year that will see increased levels of team formation and collaboration across health industry sectors. We are targeting the first week of March for the first Seattle Health Innovation Forum of 2014.  The Program Committee will meet again in early February to confirm  topics. We will then publish events on the Health Innovator meetup site.  We are actively seeking speakers and panels.  For more information please contact us at  admin1@healthinnovators.org.

Dec 23

From Uninsured to Insured- a Profile of Washington’s Insurance Market

One of every seven or 14% of Washingtonians are not covered by Health Insurance. This is 960 thousand people. At the end of November, 159 thousand enrolled into Medicaid. Another 74 thousand are enrolled or enrolled but still need to pay, into Qualified Health Plan enrollees. While this is good progress, this means about three quarters of the uninsured are not covered to date.

The  Kaiser Family Foundation outlines Washington insurance coverage in the following:

Employer Other Private Medicaid Medicare Other Public Uninsured Total
3,388,200 319,800 1,074,900 871,700 180,600 959,300 6,794,300


 Washington State Health Insurance  Markets


Currently 50% of insurance coverage is by employer groups while 30% is by Medicare/Medicaid. The individual market(other private) is less than 5% of the total..

Washington Medicaid is now called Apple Health – as of end of November an additional 159,000 enrolled into Medicaid. This is a 15% increase, totaling 1.25 million enrollees. This is currently the largest market after Employers Groups. The Health Plans participating in Apple Health are as follows:

· Amerigroup

· Community Health Plan of Washington

· Coordinated Care Corporation

· Molina

· United Healthcare

Qualified Health Plans for the Individual Market(Other Private):

The total QHP enrollment is close to 75 thousand. This is 23% growth in the other Private market of 320,000. It still represents a small share of the insurance market. This is a market to watch regarding a successful implementation of uninsured into insurance coverage.

I have met some of you at Seattle Health Innovators and I am truly amazed what I have learned from meeting you and the strong commitment to impact the healthcare community.Please let us know what would be helpful research within the distinct markets for follow up discussions.


Scott Kennedy, Certified Healthcare Financial Professional (CHFP)

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