Physician Entrepreneur Finds Creativity at Snow-Capped Heights
Feb 10, 2015 |
Jack Kreindler, MD, stood at a crossroads many years ago. Should he take the career path toward becoming a fine artist, or one that involved education across science and the humanities? He opted for medicine—a decision he says was the perfect combination of 3 things.
“Dealing with humans, being engaged with science and technology, and it made my mother very happy that I was not going to be a fine artist and struggle through the rest of my life,” Kreindler recalls.
Today, Kreindler is a physician, physiologist, serial technology entrepreneur, and the founder, chairman and chief medical officer of Sentrian, a remote patient intelligence company.
Catching the Bug
Kreindler started down the road to entrepreneurship while working to pay his way through medical school. He worked for Douglas Adams, author of the comedy science fiction series “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” and recalls Adams as a brilliant author, an incredible visionary, and the person who got Kreindler thinking about what was going to happen in the very near future around information technology, and how it would potentially change the whole world.
“And in my case, how it might change the way you practice medicine,” Kreindler says.
With that experience as his inspiration, Kreindler founded his first company, Vielife, in the late 1990s. It was a company that, using data alone, could make a profound difference in peoples’ health outcomes. It focused on identifying who was likely to become ill in large employee populations, then helping those companies with targeted interventions to radically reduce the amount of sickness, absenteeism, and private medical insurance costs. The company was sold to Cigna in 2006.
“That was my first major entry into starting up a business; to see if we could make a difference in peoples’ health,” Kreindler says. “And I caught the bug.”
He parlayed that bug into dozens of other startups; some he did himself, others as part of the founding team. But the common thread running through each was using information technology to make a difference in large percentages of the population—without developing new drugs, new technologies, or spending more money.
“That’s my definition of entrepreneurism,” he says.
Climb Every Mountain
Kreindler practiced as an emergency physician from 2002 to 2006, a stint that proved to be the springboard to a burgeoning new area called mountain medicine. He learned that there were measures he could take to help the body achieve incredible things in extreme physiological conditions. Not by fixing them as a doctor does, but actually by tuning people’s physiology much in the same way you might take an elite sports person and get them to do extraordinary things.
“Mountain medicine got me realizing that the extremes that we can put ourselves through in the Himalayas, or the Alps, or the Rockies—the understanding of what happens to the body in those extreme, high stress environments—can also help people who are extremely ill,” Kreindler says. “It’s a similar kind of stress they’re going through if they’re undergoing major surgery, or going through very intense chemotherapy. To get through that kind of thing, it's the same sort of preparation you need to get up Mount Everest.”