OnlyBoth CEO Talks Going From Academia To Business

Raul Valdes-Perez, PhD, CEO of OnlyBoth, is running his second company based on a technology he developed at Carnegie Mellon. For him, it was a challenge going from academia to the business world.

Talk me about what you learned from Jack Welch.

I read this book by Jack Welch called “Winning.” I read it a few years ago and there are actually two chapters, two parts of the book that I liked very much. One is how to create a good corporate culture in a company. And he mentioned how it really starts from the top-down especially if the CEO is also a founder-CEO and wasn’t just hired in where there’s already a corporate culture. So it starts from the top-down and then what is a good way for that top-down CEO-leader to create or instill a good corporate culture. And he said, “Do what you say and say what you mean.” And I thought that was a great insight. Do what you say. A lot of people in business say they’re going to do something, “I will call you back by tomorrow,” and then they don’t, right? Or, “I will do this,” and then they don’t. So do what you say and say what you mean.

Another thing I learned from that book, which is something I shared with every new hire at my previous company, is advice on how to get promoted. And basically, there were two things that he pointed out. It was about a 15-page chapter, but it got boiled down to two things: “Do more than is expected of you and don’t be a pain in the neck. And if you do those two things, then you will do well, you will get promoted.”

How do you work with CEOs in healthcare to get them to overcome their hesitations about investing into technology?

Well, OnlyBoth is kind of in a unique situation. Healthcare is 19% of the economy and it’s very complex because there are so many stakeholders. But in healthcare there has been a long tradition of thought leaders who say that in order to improve the performance of healthcare, one needs transparency and public information about how different healthcare providers are performing. I’ve read a number of books on this topic. One that I really like is called “Unaccountable” by a professor, a surgeon at Johns Hopkins University, who talks about how the culture of non-transparency has been in medicine for so long and he gave lots of anecdotal examples of it. I was fascinated by that book. Anyway, many thought leaders have advocated for transparency. Data is collected by the federal government. Statisticians continually improve the data collection processes, and the measures that are used. So you have a nice situation where you have people advocating for transparency and you have data. The problem is of course, but how do you go from data into good insights?

I like to use the example of a window. A window is very transparent. You can see transparently what’s on the other side of the window, but sometimes you really need help in interpreting what’s going on the other side of the window, and obviously, the same does for data. And comparing the performance of providers, that benchmarking idea hasn’t really seen any advance in methodology for decades. So we’re kind of in a unique position where we have a brand new technology and we have the resources to try to achieve this mission of ours of bringing unprecedented transparency and doing it for free open access.

So our goal is to use this technology and public data to bring public performance insights on how our hospitals are doing, how our nursing homes could improve, etc. We want to change the way people think about benchmarking and then work with proprietary data sets to bring that value in other more limited less public sectors.

Read more: CEOs Must Navigate The Ethics Of AI And Machine Learning

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