A Big Convergence: Wireless Health Care, Information Technologies, and Serial Entrepreneur James Sweeney
San Diego’s James Sweeney is a big-time health-care innovator and entrepreneur. Although he’s relatively unknown to the general public, Sweeney has founded and created eight successful health-care companies—Caremark, CarePartners, CareGivers, Central Admixture Pharmacy Services, or CAPS, McGaw, Coram, Bridge Medical, and CardioNet.
Sweeney founded his first company in 1979 as Home Health Care of America, (It later became Caremark) and gained recognition as a pioneer in the field of home infusion therapy. He sold Caremark in 1987 to Baxter (NYSE: BAX) for approximately $600 million.
Now Sweeney is focused on a wave of innovation he sees coming in the field of wireless healthcare, an area where he says he has been working “feverishly” for the past decade. He also happens to be listed as the keynote speaker on May 14th at a “Convergence Summit” organized by San Diego’s Wireless Life Sciences Alliance at the Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa.
Sweeney founded CardioNet (It’s Nasdaq ticker symbol is BEAT, a great designation) in 1999, initially to focus on using remote wireless technology to diagnose irregular heartbeats, which can be transitory and therefore difficult to detect. CardioNet now is regarded as the first commercially successful wireless health company in the United States, with a market valuation of more than $425 million following its successful IPO in March 2008. (New management moved the company, which was based in San Diego, to Pennsylvania after Sweeney resigned last year.)
A month ago Sweeney started as CEO of San Diego-based IntelliDot, founded in 2002 to provide hand-held barcode solutions for hospitals. “This company in its current form is of no interest to me,” Sweeney says. “I have a vision of what can happen in terms of wireless technology and applications. I intend to take the company forward into providing lots of wireless connectivity to patients, nurses, and hospitals, and taking data out of the hospital into outside servers. That is where all of us are going.”
Sweeney says he identifies new business opportunities by seeing how healthcare fails to meet patient needs, and he uses common-sense and technology to provide a solution. The result is often a huge new business.
He says his vision for IntelliDot “starts with patient safety, with what we can do to protect patients in a hospital. Medicare has created a new descriptive category called Never Events—things that should never happen to you.” IntelliDot, with 65-70 employees is, according to Sweeney, now refocusing on 20 innovations that would dramatically reduce Never Events and create “smart hospital room.”
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