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, which he likens to the Expedia of healthcare. 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. Energizes the Twin Cities Healthcare Entrepreneurial Community. What's in Store for 2016?

Glafira Marcon is on a mission to learn as much as she can about healthcare.  The Macalester College alumnus joined the team shortly after graduation and took over as lead organizer this past October.  She has some fresh, new directives in store for the group in 2016., the Twin Cities community for healthcare innovation and startups, operates with the vision that “Minnesota is the best place to launch a healthcare startup,” explains Glafira.  The group’s main focus is “to bring together healthcare innovation enthusiasts to catalyze the community, energize it, and support it.” lowers barriers to success for healthcare startups and entrepreneurs by making information and connections more accessible.  The group serves as a platform for exposure for these innovators and delivers “access to resources as well so that they can find a path to elevate and spread their solutions,” says Glafira.

The now over 1,100-member strong group was originally founded by local entrepreneurs Peter Kane, Thompson Aderinkomi, and Solome Tibebu in 2013.  The trio noticed the general lack of a community-based supportive group when launching their own startups and wanted to build a place where Twin Cities healthcare entrepreneurs could share ideas and build their network. 

Membership has rapidly grown over the past three years and continues to diversify in scope as the group expands, offering something for any entrepreneur operating in the Twin Cities healthcare space.  “Members find immense value in our group, whether it’s in the content of a discussion or just being in the same room with all these amazing people,” says Glafira.

The team continues to expand as a few more entrepreneurs were recently added to the organizing team.  These intrepid innovators mirror Glafira’s own passion and curiosity about healthcare and will complement her community and global health focus with experience in health tech, management/operations, and finance/investment. events have always provided general education about hot healthcare topics, distilling down complex information and making it more accessible.  The group constantly works to connect startups with employees, investors, or end customers and offers entrepreneurs the space and opportunity to interact with key Twin Cities influencers.

Some new initiatives and programming have been added to the docket this year to continue to provide value to the Twin Cities healthcare community. 

One new series will help entrepreneurs better articulate the real issues they are trying to solve in healthcare by asking, “what is the real problem?”.

“Through experts at our events, we’re sharing frameworks for how startups can drill down and identify the problem they are trying to solve, get connected to people who are impacted by that problem, and design solutions that meet their needs and provide a good user experience,” sums up Glafira. 

Other events will feature stakeholders from specific industries or companies within the healthcare field, outlining the major problems they are facing.  “It’s them saying, we need innovation in this space.  We need startups to solve these problems. We hope this will enable existing startups to align their products and services with these real needs, or inspire people to start new ones,” explains Glafira.

Maintaining lines of communication and enthusiasm between events stands as a major initiative for in 2016.

“At our events, we have a ton of energy, a lot of conversations.  People are really excited.  It starts to drop off a few days after these events.  So what do we do between events to make sure that people are still talking and collaborating?  How do we facilitate that?” asks Glafira.

The group plans to rebuild and relaunch the website as part of the solution to provide an open forum for community conversations and connections.  In addition, they plan to host office hours with experts and provide a platform for sub-groups with specific interests to form.

Stay informed of’s upcoming events by joining the Meetup Group keep up with the conversation on LinkedIn.

Join at their next event focused on Service Design on March 14th.