I never knew how extensive the entrepreneurial community at Johns Hopkins was until I became a part of it. When examining the school as a whole, it’s hard to ignore its research-based culture, the astounding discoveries that are made here, and the generations-old hue of academia. However, along with enthusiasm for research comes the need to invent new things, to improve current solutions, and to spread new knowledge and new technologies. Hopkins and entrepreneurship go hand in hand, which is why my most memorable academic experience wasn’t exactly academic.
Over the past few months, a group of friends and I have been working on founding a company called Medella Medical. All of us have some interest in medicine or in medical technology—we have three biomedical engineers, two computer science majors with an emphasis in Biology and Neuroscience, and a particularly adaptable mechanical engineer—and we are all aware of a problem in healthcare technology. We decided that we should find a solution.
The problem we’re addressing is the poor usability of electronic health record systems. Doctors are strongly incentivized by the government to use some sort of system to electronically store their patient data, but the products currently on the market are overly-complicated, confusing, and inflexible. Patients often complain that they never make eye contact with their physicians anymore, who are constantly typing into clunky interfaces. We wanted to make something that didn’t interrupt a doctor’s normal workflow, that was intuitive to use, and that can easily be integrated with other health-related applications and technologies.
It was incredibly exciting to find a group of like-minded people who were all enthusiastic about solving this problem, and since working on this project, we’ve encountered an immense network of people from the University interested in helping us along the way. We’ve met with other health-related companies founded at Johns Hopkins, innovative-minded doctors willing to provide us with suggestions as we build, and people from the Carey School of Business and from the other Hopkins-related business organizations. In fact, Johns Hopkins has a surprising number of business-oriented people. Many of them simply have a good idea and want to see what comes of it, but many others have discovered something through a lab, a research project, or in a class, and want to implement it in a useful way. At Hopkins, thousands of people are working tirelessly to solve problems and to improve people’s lives, and it only makes sense that when a discovery is made, they then want to see their solution spread.
While this experience has not necessarily been academic, through it I’ve learned quite a lot. I’ve become proficient in new programming languages, learned to use new technologies, improved my marketing skills, and discovered countless things about the medical profession.
And this is just the beginning. We’ve hardly left the planning stages, and we’re already pulling multiple all-nighters in a row to build interface mock-ups. We’ve already sifted through hundreds of articles about healthcare IT. We’ve already worked tirelessly to get as much feedback as possible from healthcare professionals. As a group, we’re aware that this is a huge project. We’re aware that what we’re trying to do may seem insane. However, we’re all incredibly inspired to keep working. I leave a meeting knowing that we’re building a tool that could be revolutionary. We’re building something that could affect millions of people worldwide. We’re building a solution, and that knowledge is incredibly motivating. I am finding myself to be part of the entrepreneurial culture at Hopkins that I admired so tremendously.
The largest thing that I’ve learned from this experience is about my community. People here want to build, to always strive toward something better, and to solve problems. It’s inspiring to be in a community that simply won’t limit itself to the status-quo. A group of friends got together, and found that we were all interested in a problem. So we decided to solve it. That mindset is wholeheartedly Hopkins, and one of the reasons it’s so incredible to be a part of this University.