A View Into the Healthcare Entrepreneurship Journey with Joowon Kim, Digital Health Entrepreneur & Biodesign Fellow at TMC Innovation Institute
: [00:00:01] Welcome to the Outcomes Rocket podcast where we inspire collaborative thinking, improved outcomes and business success with today's most successful and inspiring healthcare leaders and influencers. And now your host, Saul Marquez
Saul Marquez: [00:00:18] Welcome back once again to the outcomes rocket podcast where we chat with today's most successful and inspiring healthcare leaders. I want to welcome you once again and I welcome you to go to outcomesrocket.health/reviews where you could rate and review today's podcast because we have an amazing guest. Her name is Joowon Kim. She's a friend of mine and she's also a digital health entrepreneur and biodesign fellow at the TMC Innovation Institute in Houston Texas. John's got a long history of just making things happen in healthcare through the entrepreneurial route. She's got some deep experiences in a virtual reality and augmented reality. She's got some products out in the market as well that she's launched with some other entrepreneur friends. But now she's on her new journey. And so what I want to do is bring Joowon to the podcast to talk about some of the things that she's been up to at the TMC Innovation Institute and also to talk about healthcare. So Joowon welcome to the podcast.
Joowon Kim: [00:01:21] Hi. Thank you so much for inviting me.
Saul Marquez: [00:01:23] It is a pleasure. And we definitely spent some good times over at Health 2.0 and boy in a very short time. You have done a lot.
Joowon Kim: [00:01:35] It seems like it was yesterday.
Saul Marquez: [00:01:36] I know right. It's crazy it's crazy but amazing. And so why in the world did you decide to get into health care Joowon. Of all things that you could've done you decided on health care why is that.
Joowon Kim: [00:01:47] Before I came to the medical sector I was in education in game industry. So in a way it could be seen as an oddball here but I was trained to identify problems and find solution on the fly by the skills you have to have whether it be learning does it. What type of help they need you know in their study or when I'm developing a game I need to find a cause of the frame rate drop and optimizing to feel like I have to be always on the go trying to solve this problem and solve it right away. And with that technical background when I saw how much the health care industry needed help advancing technology I wanted to join the force to fix the health care. So that's why I'm here.
Saul Marquez: [00:02:36] That's awesome yeah. And you know it's interesting because in health we need a lot of outside expertise like yours and there's a lot of people that are starting to migrate to what we do because of that heartstring or because of the impact that you could have on the other side of what you create. So you definitely are in the right place John. We've had conversations outside of here and I definitely know that you're purpose driven and so I'm excited to hear a little bit more about what you guys have been up to at the Institute. What would you say Thuan is a hot topic that should be on every medical leaders agenda today.
Joowon Kim: [00:03:12] We need to create the health care system that will serve the needs of everybody. I don't think anybody should worry about going to a doctor because they cannot afford a cost. I'm healthy fortunately but I know that there are millions of people out there who have to make a decision whether they can continue the lifesaving treatment. It's really sad in my opinion. I'm from Korea and Korea has one of the best health care and it was never an issue to a doctor. You know and you know moving to America I myself encountered questioning myself should I go to a doctor. I don't think I have to. It's something. And you know in Korea it was so much cheaper and it was affordable. I didn't have to wait so long in a real room. So it was a big difference. And I think to fix this we need to have everyone to have the same vision and that vision is like to save the health care through everybody coming together through collaboration exchanging patient data safely and adopting new technology as best as they can safely and educate the people to lead healthy lifestyle because I think health care is like fixing what's already broken. But you can educate people from the beginning. You know we can prevent a lot of these things. So right now part of Texas Medical Center. In a program called by design fellowship and the Texas Medical Center is not up to 54 institutions including renowned institutions such as M.D. Anderson Baylor Methodist Memorial Hermann to name a few. And then they also have the innovation institute which my current program is part of. And once a year they gather they bring in about 20 some companies and they look through x or age incubate accelerate a process and my fellowship is actually separate from that. It's a one year paid fellowship which we go out and you find healthcares on the leads and we collected 300 of them. Yes within six months we had to narrow it down coming from 300 to the top 15 to the top 10 and top five and then finally we pitched up 3 to the executive member of the Texas Medical Center and we narrowed it down to the final one and really excited because we could finally work on this to spin out a company from this idea. So I think that our organization takes Mickelson or is doing great job you know being spearheading innovation and trying to educate the community and providing this type opportunity for both local and internationally as well as within the United States to help these startups to start the movement and help healthcare. So.
Saul Marquez: [00:06:11] Yeah congratulations to the team for whittling it down to one out of so many. It was a hard.
Joowon Kim: [00:06:19] Yes because you had to consider with the right team because there are so many things that we could do and were all excited to do that. But we come from a very different backgrounds so you know as you know my background is in virtual reality augmented reality in digital. Those are coming from one guys from Google and another guys from IBM with predictive links next and then another guys from MDH. He's fast grannie's and pathology. He's a doctor so we kind of didn't know what we're going to do coming together along the way with ups and downs not only getting to know each other but solving like what is really broken and what can we do about it in such a short time going from zero to one. So that was pretty challenging for me. I'm really excited to tell you that we actually have something really promising and it's very exciting. I wish I could tell you more.
Saul Marquez: [00:07:17] Not at this point.
Joowon Kim: [00:07:18] But not at this point. But soon sonn.
Saul Marquez: [00:07:20] Right. All right well you're close and it's exciting and it's interesting what happens when accelerators in groups like the one that you're part of Jawan they get together you're forced to crank something out. And I've had several guests on the show that like you were part of an accelerator like this and now they have living breathing companies that are creating solutions for the market and also creating revenue. So it's pretty exciting to think about what those next final months are going to be and so I wish you guys the best as you gear up to make this thing real.
Joowon Kim: [00:07:55] Thank you so much.
Saul Marquez: [00:07:57] So give us an example Juwan of a time when you have have applied your skills to create better outcomes.
Joowon Kim: [00:08:05] I guess I can use an example of my last company which was using virtual reality to help patients to alleviate their pain and anxiety during invasive procedure. So I'm not a medical person but when I met my heart she used to work at Andy Anderson and she said you know I see patients every day and I think there's an opportunity to his ear. Would you help me. And at the time I was teaching students as well as developing the organs. And I said Well I think this is going to help others. I would gladly join you. And so we formed a company and using VR you know I knew that games can totally take your mind away at things you know you can yell at you know your brother or sister or hey come join me to do something. They're just completely out of mind and they're so focused on the game so we can use the same kind of idea but for patients to finally do that you know possibly distraction. But with teaching them with deep reading and focusing on certain things that can really take their mind out of the pain. And I was at the doctors office working on this procedure which was very painful for patients to say. From zero to ten points pain scale the patient said it's about nine with anesthetic that's pretty high. And so I would hear all the screaming noise coming out of the room and I was like well I hope this helps. So we went in with the product that I developed and it teaches you deep breathing to and focusing on this avatar that with the movement and you just keep focusing on your breath to match with the movement. So I notice that I mean it was so incredible that the TV we were on the TV news they actually came in and recorded it and to the local news station. And I'm really thankful not only for this happy thing happening allowing me to be part of this change but also the doctors who were it will be open enough to allow these type of technologies to come into their practice room and to be tested on patients. No because it takes a lot of courage for them and the rest. And without them I don't think there can be innovation.
Saul Marquez: [00:10:34] Now. Yeah I think what you're saying is so powerful Joowon. Just the importance of putting the patients at the center of the innovation. Right. And it's just so key to have them in the middle because this is why we're doing it for now. You know partly we're doing it for the practitioners. But the big part of it is we're doing it for the patients and so I just kind of thinking about other applications to it. Yeah I mean you could avoid pain but how about when your at home and maybe you're taking some sort of medication at home or going through some procedure where you are in pain such as times when they when they prescribe cannabis for example maybe they can describe virtual reality. The one that you came up with to make them feel better.
Joowon Kim: [00:11:17] Yes currently going through clinical trials in internationally. So really looking forward to seeing how it turns out right now. My partner actually is working on it in Belgium. So I think that I'm pretty hopeful that there will be a good outcome.
Saul Marquez: [00:11:36] Amazing. Thanks for sharing that with Kim. And so let's take a look at the other side of things Joowon. Can you share a time when you had a setback and what you learned from that.
Joowon Kim: [00:11:46] So after leaving my company which was via company. I did. And you do use the knowledge that I learned from health care but it's time to kind of keeping it to the next generation. So I wanted to teach what I learned trading in our applications to the kids between ages 12 to 18. So I started MRV our chem based on Steam learning curriculum with our partner that I found in a locally. And it was we made such a fast stride within like three months we were partnering with well-known tech companies like Microsoft Noach VR blind Zalm and others like. And then also nonprofit organizations that really came and helped us halfway. And the more I got into the process I realized it needed to be needed. It wasn't made way bigger than I thought. I mean the operational cost was huge and I didn't anticipate that. There were operation costs was big also the demand was not as large initially as I was hoping because you know of course a lot of marketing it was a lot of word of mouth focus and market segment. And I just didn't anticipate all of these and they couldn't make the profit fast enough. And I think this model would have been better is best for a non-profit organization. So I was running a for profit company like a non-profit. I was speaking on my own real money every class and I thought wow I'm going to be bankrupt. Now I realized learned a lot about the importance of financial strategy and following passion alone is not enough to make business successful. It's a great deal like we contributed a lot to the community and students learned a lot in the process. They're happy about that.
Saul Marquez: [00:13:53] Our business and that's really great shared and that goes to show Joowon. You know you could follow your passion. You could even get partnerships with big name companies and it doesn't mean that it's a good business model. And I think a lot of entrepreneurs we get into this and we think we have a great idea but we've got to put in the thought process to the financial models and then would you also say potentially even teaming up with somebody that can see the things that you don't would help as well.
Joowon Kim: [00:14:25] Absolutely. And actually coming into the by design. Well she really helped me see how important that is because there are a lot of areas that I need help 9 in a financial or even business planning. And when I was working with it was coming from different strengths and backgrounds.I saw us moving fast like speed of light and I think I'm very appreciative of this experience because we got to see that you don't have to know you all if you find the right person to form a team I think that you can definitely win in the end. So it was a good learning experience.
Saul Marquez: [00:15:08] That's awesome. John you're always grinding it. You're always at the front. You're always working on a new idea. You're always forming a new partnership. We love that you and listeners one of the things that you should take note here is that you can't be afraid you can't be afraid of failing. If you see something that needs to be changed and you can find somebody to help you do it. Don't be afraid just go for it. Like Joowon has with the many ideas she's had because at the end of the day it's those iterations that you make on your idea that eventually become that thing that helps healthcare be better. So Joowon keep on track. I know you're going to do some great things with this idea. Just have a good feeling about it.
Joowon Kim: [00:15:48] Thank you so much. And you know I want to share a quote that I saw on Twitter and I didn't write this down so I'm going to try to remember from my memory. And it was I was dying to graduate so I can get a job. I was dying to get married so that I can have kids. I was dying to see my kids grow up so I can have my own. I'm dying that I forgot to live. And I think we're always chasing so much and it's good to realize the importance of life and that's something that I realized after taking time off from crazy you know you just tried to gradually try to get a job. And when my first job the project again and I was working on I didn't finish and that it was decided shut the project down. I start to question my life. What's the purpose of life. I wanted to be in that industry and I worked on a game but it's not going to be shipped and nobody's going see what I'm in what I've done for two years and so many questions it took like an almost sabbatical for three and a half years and during those times I think when I realized the purpose it's OK to take time off and realize what why we're here because it's so easy to get wrapped up in like oh I've got to make money. I got it just so I can get promotion of the year. Think about yourself Indes said what really matters is that life will fly by before we know and what we can do at the moment is using our skills and our spirit to make a difference. So I think it's really important to take that time off to realize those things.
Saul Marquez: [00:17:41] It's a really great message to Joowon and take pause and think about especially at the start of the year. It's always a good time to do it. But I think doing it often and so John. Great great great quote awesome experiences that you shared and I think it's something that every one of us could take note of and learn from. So Joowon this has been amazing. The time has just flown together with you. And so I'm going to have to skip through the lightning round but I do want to ask you for a book that you recommend to the listeners.
Joowon Kim: [00:18:10] So it's personal book for me because during the sabbatical years that I took hours at St. Petersburg lying in one of the hostel room and bed and reading this book and I highlighted so many quote I think it really resonated and made a difference in finding that light that you can follow your life and purpose and it's by Paulo Coelho the Alchemist. So there was my all time favorite book.
Saul Marquez: [00:18:44] Listeners an amazing book if you haven't read it. You have to grab it. It's one of those definitely like. Like Joowon said one that will help you see the light. And I don't worry about writing it down. Just go to outcomesrocket.health/Joowon Oh. And you're going to be able to find all the Schoenaerts links to the book. Links to her projects and everything that she's been up to and what we've talked about today. So Joanne this has been so much fun and great to reconnect with you. Before we conclude our love for you to just share a closing thought for the listeners. And then the best place where they could get in touch with you.
Joowon Kim: [00:19:16] I think it's great. First of all thank you all for creating this space because not one person can move this giant boulder of healthcare and I but I think if we all come together and with the one vision to make it better for all of us because we will one day all benefit and our parents will benefit in our kids children will benefit. So I would like all of us to come together and collaborate and be open.
Saul Marquez: [00:19:45] Outstanding. And where would you say the listeners can get a hold of you.
Joowon Kim: [00:19:49] Oh yes you can get a hold of me at my gmail account. firstname.lastname@example.org
Saul Marquez: [00:19:56] Fantastic Joowon this has been a lot of fun listeners take note of the things that we wrote some really great great words of wisdom here shared by Joowon Kim. So take note of them relisten if you have to but again Joowon just want to say thank you so much for spending time with us.
Joowon Kim: [00:20:13] Thank you. It's my honow. Thank you.
: [00:20:19] Thanks for listening to the Outcomes Rocket podcast. Be sure to visit us on the web at www.outcomesrocket.health for the show notes, resources, inspiration and so much more.
The Best Way To Contact Joowon: