- Business Insider named 10 healthcare leaders to its list of 100 People Transforming Business.
- They include a doctor using his healthcare experience to fix the industry’s flaws, an insurance executive drawing on her own tough experiences with the system, and a professor who pioneered a tool that could change how we treat genetic diseases.
- See the full list of the 100 people transforming business here.
Healthcare takes up nearly a fifth of the US economy, but it sometimes feels like we’re not getting much for all that money.
Meet the 10 leaders trying to upend the status quo and change that.
Some are pioneering new ways to treat diseases and care for patients. Others are simply trying to make sure we can afford it all.
Their approaches range from high-tech to decidedly analog, but all are pushing for new ways to do a better job of keeping people healthy and living longer.
Read on to see our full list of the 10 people transforming healthcare.
Rick Doblin hopes to turn psychedelics like ecstasy into mainstream treatments for brain diseases through the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies
Tony Luong for Business Insider
On his 18th birthday, Rick Doblin, who is now 65, decided he wanted to become the first therapist to legally administer the drugs. It was 1972, and psychedelic drugs like magic mushrooms and LSD were illegal, with one exception, ecstasy, or MDMA.
In academic pockets across the US, Doblin discovered an "underground network of psychedelic therapists," clinicians who were intimately familiar with MDMA and who helped guide patients through using them to boost the outcomes of traditional therapy. Doblin wanted to be one such therapist, only he wanted to do it out in the open.
"It’s normally too painful for people to process these kinds of thoughts," Doblin told Business Insider. "But when we can do it with MDMA and therapeutic support, the anxiety levels that people normally experience diminish over time."
So at age 20, Doblin created the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS. Under his lead, MAPS has raised $70 million for research into psychedelics’ ability to treat a variety of mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
Investors and clinicians are increasingly embracing psychedelics to treat diseases like depression, and a drug based on ketamine was recently approved for the condition. More may be coming, thanks to MAPS.
Jennifer Doudna, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, helped invent blockbuster gene-editing tool Crispr
Alexander Heinl/Picture alliance via Getty Images
Jennifer Doudna learned by email that a scientist in China had used the blockbuster gene-editing tool she’d helped invent to reportedly edit the DNA of a pair of twin baby girls.
"It was pretty shattering," the 55-year-old University of California geneticist told Business Insider. "I was quite stunned."
Doudna had unearthed the tool, called Crispr, in early experiments with bacteria in 2012. Since then, she’s envisioned dozens of applications for it, from treating diseases like sickle cell to creating tastier produce and even making drought-resistant crops. For years, she’s also feared that someone might use it in secret to mess with human DNA.
And that’s exactly what reportedly happened when the researcher, He Jiankui, edited the twin girls’ DNA. To address it, Doudna said we need to provide anyone who’s thinking about tweaking the genes of human embryos with "very concrete sets of criteria recognized by international forums."
Doudna is still hopeful about Crispr’s applications in other areas, such as treating diseases and creating superior foods. "I think in the next five years the most profound thing we’ll see in terms of Crispr’s effects on people’s everyday lives will be in the agricultural sector," she said.
Rushika Fernandopulle, the CEO of Iora Health, is inventing an entirely new way to go to the doctor
Tony Luong for Business Insider
Fifteen years ago, Rushika Fernandopulle had a radical idea.
The primary care doctor started to realize that insurance wasn’t covering what he wanted to do for his patients.
"Working in the system, you have to be blind deaf and dumb to not realize that the system is broken," Fernandopulle, the CEO of Iora Health told Business Insider.
So he decided to create an entirely new kind of medical practice. He could charge them around $40-$50 a month and wouldn’t take insurance. In return, Fernandopulle could give them longer doctor’s visits and more hands-on care.
Since then, he’s been able to prove that the approach is worth covering. Instead of having patients pay the monthly fee directly, Iora works with "sponsors" — employers or Medicare Advantage health plans for the elderly — that cover the monthly fee.
Today, Iora has about 34 practices around the US, with plans to get to 50 by the end of 2019. The way he sees it, Fernandopulle and the Iora team are building something entirely different from what exists today.
"We’re building a radically new consumer-centric relational model for healthcare that’s not a little different than the current transactional ‘Do stuff to people’ model," Fernandopulle said.
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