Gary and Mary West: Improving Healthcare Through Disruption

For years, Americans have prospered like people in no other country on earth because our class-free society allowed virtually anyone with a good idea to launch a company, hire, prosper and keep the majority of the fruits of their labor. A competitive entrepreneurial culture further fostered an environment where successful businesspeople went from being entrepreneurs to serial entrepreneurs.

Even more impressive, so many of these successful businesspeople seem to reach a point in their career where they don’t feel satisfied helping society through their inventions and hiring, they want to focus on problems with society and fix them directly.

Such is the case with Gary and Mary West – two legends in the call img-gary-mary-west.jpgcenter space as founders of West Corp. As you may know,in 1982 TMC launched the first magazine in the world in the call center space and at the time we called it Telemarketing (now Customer Interaction Solutions). Believe it or not, The term call center wasn’t coined until the late eighties. And one of our areas of focus was on the outsourcing space – which at that time was virtually all done domestically in places like Iowa and Nebraska.

For decades, West Corp constantly placed high on lists of contact center outsourcing companies TMC ranked and currently employs around 35,000 people. This past decade the company evolved by promoting home-agent outsourcing allowing US workers to be more cost-competitive with their international competition from countries like India.

Today, Gary and Mary have announced the formation of West Health Investment Fund, LLC a $100M fund to provide risk capital to lower health care costs and invigorate low cost health care innovation. Specifically, the company explains that the rising healthcare cots are an unsustainable burden on our economy and moreover that the fund will help bring disruptive solutions to market to help solve the problem.

The initial portfolio of the fund is as follows:

Biological Dynamics, whose next-generation diagnostics technology may enable physicians to detect cancer from a simple blood draw and rapidly intervene, increasing patient survivability while driving down the cost of care;

Change Healthcare, whose web-based decision support tool Transparency Messenger™ provides consumers with personalized views of pricing information and alerts on where to save money on routine healthcare services including medical, dental and prescriptions;

goBalto, whose new generation web-based solutions simplify pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device clinical research;

Healthsense, whose in-home monitoring sensors and solutions alert family members and providers of potential health problems before they become acute, enabling seniors to remain healthy and independent;

Humedica, a clinical informatics company whose cutting-edge analytics for health care organizations delivers a truly longitudinal and comprehensive view of patient care; and,  

Sotera Wireless, whose new generation of continuous vital signs monitoring improves the safety of patients on the general floor of hospitals, while at the same time reducing costs.

And this announcement comes at an interesting time as there seems to be intense media exposure for a group of a few thousand “occupy” protesters and union members who seem to think that wealthy people and corporations are not contributing enough to society. And when I hear such comments I wonder why the press never asks them – What about the company which invented life-saving cancer treatments or medicines to combat AIDS? What about the company which invented better fertilizers or seeds to help reduce world hunger? Or the technology companies which helped third-world companies rife with poverty more quickly evolve into first world powerhouses? Brazil comes to mind.

So hats off the Gary and Mary – they have been held in the highest esteem here at TMC for many decades and although I didn’t think it possible, they just topped themselves.

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