Former Mayo Clinic CIO Abdul Bengali Speaks about Future of Healthcare at Last BioAM Founders Series

BioAM wrapped up its final Founders Series with a bang last Tuesday night, hosting Abdul Bengali, former CIO of Mayo Clinic and healthIT aficionado. 

Mr. Bengali was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan and became interested in this wacky new thing called computers as a youth.  In 1968, he traveled to the United States to study computer science and has been here ever since.  He met his wife, who incidentally was from Minnesota, during his studies at California State Polytechnic University.  The couple moved to Minnesota after his graduation in 1973 with the dream to have a two story house, a fireplace, and two children.

Mr. Bengali took a job in programming at Mayo Clinic in 1977, which began his thirty-five-year career at the medical institution.  He retired from the position of Chief Information Officer (CIO) in 2012.

He recently leveraged his experience in healthIT to launch a startup called DocHelp.com, which he likens to the Expedia of healthcare.  DocHelp.com brings transparency to the healthcare system, allowing consumers to book appointments with care providers using the platform without having to call the office directly or request an appointment.

Mr. Bengali sees healthcare as an industry in transition, moving from a fee-for-service to a pay-for-value model.  But what will it take for healthcare to evolve?  Mr. Bengali thinks that entrepreneurs and startups, just like the ones emerging in Rochester, will play a significant role in this healthcare transformation.

Right now, we have an explosion of medical information in healthcare.  We have the ability to collect the same amount of gene mapping data and genetic information in one year as we did in the past one-hundred years combined.  This power gives healthcare provides a lot more information about each patient, but it also increases the number of facts needed to render a clinical decision.  Moving into the future, how will the healthcare system synthesize all this information together to make these clinical decisions and render good patient outcomes?

Mr. Bengali believes that healthcare will reach a point in its evolution where it has to start thinking of information as a service.  Take the old TV Guides as an example.  These books were just pages of information about the week’s television lineup.  They themselves did not offer any programming, they just synthesized all the information about the television that week into one space.  In a similar manner, healthcare has reached the point where samples taken during an exam can be sent off and deconstructed to gain another level of knowledge and information that’s useful to the healthcare provider for clinical decision making.

Mr. Bengali sees several major trends occurring in healthcare right now.  He thinks that healthcare will have to revamp its business model, where eventually providers will need to post their outcome, safety, and patient satisfaction records.  He also sees a drive in millennials to access healthcare online, on their own terms.  Lastly, he sees a huge need for self-service in healthcare, which is where his own startup falls into place.  3.4 billion medical appoints are made annually in the United States.  1.2 billion of those could be self-service.