General

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Paying a Medical Bill Should Not Be This Hard

general

When it comes to paying a medical bill, I’ve had a backwards experience. As the founder of Omedix, I built software that’s collected tens of millions of dollars in healthcare bill payments, but I hardly ever paid any healthcare bills of my own. I was under 30 and hardly went to the doctor!

Next month I turn 34 and I am fortunate that neither my wife nor I has any chronic medical issues, but now we go to the doctor for the usual annual checkups. In 2013, our health visits amounted to:

  • Annual well-checks with our primary care physician (PCP)
  • The lab tests our PCP’s requested
  • In her case, annual visit with an OB/GYN
  • In my case, annual check up at the dermatologist (skin doctor)
  • In my case, annual check up at the ophthalmologist (eye doctor)

Today, I’m about 4 hours in and almost done paying all the healthcare bills. The experience has been…traumatizing. First, multiple bills are sent for the same service, but with slight differences. Second, our doctor tried to bill insurance, had the wrong info, sent us a bill for the full amount, was later informed the insurance was wrong, adjusted the bill, and sent an updated one.

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Paying a Medical Bill Should Not Be This Hard

general

When it comes to paying a medical bill, I’ve had a backwards experience. As the founder of Omedix, I built software that’s collected tens of millions of dollars in healthcare bill payments, but I hardly ever paid any healthcare bills of my own. I was under 30 and hardly went to the doctor!

Next month I turn 34 and I am fortunate that neither my wife nor I has any chronic medical issues, but now we go to the doctor for the usual annual checkups. In 2013, our health visits amounted to:

  • Annual well-checks with our primary care physician (PCP)
  • The lab tests our PCP’s requested
  • In her case, annual visit with an OB/GYN
  • In my case, annual check up at the dermatologist (skin doctor)
  • In my case, annual check up at the ophthalmologist (eye doctor)

Today, I’m about 4 hours in and almost done paying all the healthcare bills. The experience has been…traumatizing. First, multiple bills are sent for the same service, but with slight differences. Second, our doctor tried to bill insurance, had the wrong info, sent us a bill for the full amount, was later informed the insurance was wrong, adjusted the bill, and sent an updated one.

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Give, Give, Give, Then Get

zen general

I’ve decided to try an experiment lately. At every opportunity where I see I can possibly add value to someone in some way, I try to do so.

This can mean connecting someone with someone else I know, sharing insights from experiences I’ve had that may be applicable, or even mini-projects that leverage my technical skills.

Like any other behavior change, this is a habit that takes some work to build, so I’m not 100% ramped up yet, but at least the habit is building, so hopefully after a few weeks it will just be my default behavior.

Anyway, I’ve had a few interesting observations about it:

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Your New Normal and the Futility of Stress

entrepreneurship zen general

I had a very powerful business experience about 4 years ago that taught me a lesson that I didn’t fully understand until recently.

I was the sole owner of a company that received a Letter of Intent from a publicly traded company to be acquired for around $1 million, all before I was even 30 years old. Sure sounds sexy, right? Well, the catch was that we were not profitable at that time and of course the time between receiving a Letter of Intent and actually signing all the contracts, getting a check in the bank, and considering the acquisition a done deal can be anywhere from a few weeks to over a year.

So we waited. Doing our best to not be too unprofitable and not incur too many legal expenses, but thrilled at the prospect of an acquisition that would instantly remove all the stress. I remember every day trying to act to the outside world like things were fine, but inside I felt incredibly stressed. Each day was a new opportunity to obsess just a little bit more about when the acquisition would finally close.

And then finally it did. Except that it didn’t go through, it fell through.

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Cutting Out the Noise

entrepreneurship zen general

I keep noticing a recurring theme in my hobbies and in business: cut out the noise and focus only on the essential.

It seems so simple, but the fascinating thing about life is that the things and people we encounter so rarely do cut through the noise. Instead it seems like most endeavors of consequence are messy, complicated and hard, and it’s not always clear why.

When you approach almost everything with the mentality of “how do I cut out the noise?” life becomes a very magical experience where a little effort in the right place can yield big results.

I think can think of at least 3 areas of my own life where cutting out the noise yielded big results.

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The Fundamental Entrepreneurship Challenge

entrepreneurship zen general

Thrashing n. To expend a disproportionately high amount of energy relative to the quality of output you receive

When I was younger and looked at successful companies, I simply could not for the life of me understand how they ever went from NOTHING to what they were today. The modern equivalent would be like asking “How did Jamba Juice launch hundreds of stores across the country? How did that start?” It made sense to me that if you raised a massive amount of money and then immediately bought all the capital equipment and hired all the people you needed then you’d at least be capable of serving all the customers, and that the massive revenue from the customers would balance out your massive expenses…but how did it all come to be from NOTHING? It seemed like magic to me.

And from this line of thought I embarked on what I believe is the fundamental fallacy of entrepreneurial thinking: asking the question “what does a company need to do to succeed?”

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The Technical Founder Strengths and Weaknesses

entrepreneurship general

“We are hugely in favor of the technical founder. We will generally focus on companies started by strong technologists who know exactly what they want to build and how they are going to build it.” – Marc Andreessen

I’ve always prided myself on being a “technical founder.” Basically, it means that if I were hired as a dedicated software engineer I could make a pretty meaningful contribution to a software product, but that my primary role is to guide the growth of the company as CEO. I used to think that being a technical founder was an absolute advantage over non-technical founders since not only could I do the business thing, but I could really understand at a deep technical level how viable something is, and I also know what’s possible, which enables me to come up with product ideas and visions that non-technical founders might not be able to.

But life has this funny thing where our biggest strength can also be our biggest weakness. The trick is being honest with yourself about what they are.

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Lead Like the Great Conductors

entrepreneurship general

This is a beautiful exposition (and metaphor) on the role of a leader. I’ve often wondered if it’s better to set forth clear guidelines so that everyone knows exactly what to do, or better to provide people a framework within which to “tell their own story” (to use the words of Mr. Talgam in the video below).

Ultimately, I’ve found that different people respond to different styles. But if there is a “default style,” I believe the conductor who empowers the musicians to perform the music in their own style while providing subtle yet meaningful guidance on context, feeling, and intent produces the most beautiful music.

Honesty

general zen

Whew, it’s been a long time since I’ve written on this blog. Nearly 4 months!

I feel like I have so many things I’d like to write about, but one thing in particular seems to keep popping up these days: the idea of being honest with people.

Maybe it’s my nature, maybe it’s my upbringing, but I just really feel uncomfortable when I’m not being forthright with someone. If I feel like I’m withholding something or not disclosing something it makes me feel manipulative and uneasy. I feel like I have to just come out with the truth, all of it.

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Connecting with Your True Purpose

general zen

Okay, so watch this video for just a little bit before you continue reading:

One of the things I really love about music is that when we hear great music performed, we aren’t just hearing great music, we’re also hearing an individual who has risen to his or her full potential.

The guy in the video is of course Bono, U2’s lead singer. The song is “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” As you watch Bono singing to thousands of people, you can just tell that Bono has 150% embraced his role. You don’t get the feeling that he’s thinking “Gosh, am I enjoying singing this song? Is this really what I want to be doing with myself?” You can just tell that he is totally congruent with what he’s doing, and is expressing himself to his full potential. Sure enough, thousands of people came out to hear it.

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