Avik Som grew up in Houston, Texas, and attended Johns Hopkins University for his bachelors in Biomedical Engineering, and currently a National Cancer Institute NRSA F30 fellow in the MD/PhD program at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine. Most recently, he defended his PhD where they developed a novel type of nanoparticle made of calcium carbonate that can be used to turn cancer into a chronic disease and increase the synergy of chemotherapies. Further he’s been interested in clinical translation, and as he transitions into the clinic, he has been focused on direct applications of innovation through the combination of entrepreneurship, research, and evidence based clinical care. Epharmix was born at the tail end of his PhD on the premise that the same research methods used to bring biopharmaceuticals to clinic using evidence based methods could be applied to the wild and often non-evidence based world of digital medicine. This new role builds on his previous forays into biomedical innovation and entrepreneurship, including his time as a design team leader at Johns Hopkins, and as the founder of IDEA Labs (now known as Sling Health), today a national medical student driven biomedical incubator.
Towards this end, he currently leads a team of 60 clinical students and over 50 physicians and providers across 10 institutions to build, develop, and clinically test Epharmix products through peer reviewed randomized controlled trials. He’s excited to be part of bringing Epharmix technologies to the next level of standard of care. He is interested in being part of innovation that improves biomedical and therapeutic care for patients. He is heavily involved in the biomedical design community through research, consulting, bio-entrepreneurship, and eventually medical practice. He is always looking for interesting projects to pursue.
Why Healthcare? I was really excited about how to innovate. I love the concept of the biomedical innovation. Growing up, I realized that to really make a change in health care system, you have to be in the medical sector and you have to be a physician to make those choices and really have a share of experience.
Hot Topic that should healthcare leaders agenda: Going from Fee-for service to Value-based care.
Setbacks that you learned from: When we were first developing the heart failure capabilities, we were focused on detecting water retention through weighing. Lots of false positives due to normal variations. What we found was that asking questions that are more subjective questions about how the patients felt vs. using a scale. Increased access because now they don’t even need a scale to detect deterioration.
Proudest leadership moments: Epharmix research center at Wash U. Seeing over 60 faculty and students generate the actual valid research to tackle very real problems.
Avik 101 Course on Outcomes Improvement:
- What is the best way to improve healthcare outcomes?
Be disease specific. I think the best way to improve is to say “what is it that my patients have, who are my patients, what diseases do they have and being very specific about which groups of patients and that specific disease and outcome you want to improve”.
- What is the biggest mistake or pitfall to avoid?
Choosing intermediate outcome that sounds nice and broad and helpful but actually may cause issue.
- How do you stay relevant as an organization despite constant change?
One is the variety of economic models that are coming into healthcare we constantly building our systems and how. Second is research so that the system we built is underlying outcomes.
- One area of focus that should drive everything else is:
Patient outcomes for everyone.
Closing Thought: Despite the challenges and trying to get the value-based care, it’s definitely possible.
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