Chair File: Leadership Dialogue — Talking Innovation and Equity in Health Care with Marcus Whitney, Founder and Partner, Jumpstart Health Investors


On this episode, I talk with Marcus Whitney, co-founder and partner of Jumpstart Health Investors, focused on innovation and investment in health care. Whitney also is founder and general partner of Jumpstart Nova, a venture fund investing in Black-led health care companies.

Marcus told me he thinks the health care field “often gets a bad rap around innovation” and called out advancements in diagnostic devices, therapeutics and, most recently, COVID-19 vaccines as “absolutely innovation.” He emphasized the importance of hospitals and health systems developing an innovation practice that exists alongside the organization’s standard operating model. Both have to be integrated, Marcus said. That means “the innovation [practice] has an understanding of the challenges of the operational side, and the operational side has a respect for the innovation practice — and understands it’s there to help and not to interfere or interrupt,” he explained.

It’s important to have people specializing in health care innovation, Marcus said, and he elaborated on the differences between innovating in a highly regulated field like health care compared to other industries. “We need to be a lot more careful in health care when we innovate and make changes … but we shouldn’t fail to try.” And though the cost of operating a technology business has “dramatically dropped,” it’s more challenging lowering costs in health care, a field with compliance rules and steep penalties and where human interaction is valued over automation. Still, health care is “one of the most meaningful places you can work in America today,” Marcus believes.

We also discussed the impact of investing in and providing venture capital to minority-owned businesses on the future of health care and the need for more people with “key lived experiences” to participate as executive leaders, managers, board members and capital allocators. Marcus talks about the mission of Jumpstart Nova to invest in black-founded and black-led companies focused on health care innovation. The AHA is an investor in this fund.

I hope you find these conversations thought provoking and useful. Look for them once a month as part of the Chair File.

Watch the episode here.

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