A Note From Ed Simcox, Former CTO and Acting CIO of HHS

Ed Simcox currently serves as the Chief Strategy Officer at LifeOmic, a precision health and wellness company. Prior to LifeOmic, he was the Chief Technology Officer and Acting Chief Innovation Officer for the US Department of Health and Human Services, the largest civilian government agency in the world. During his time at HHS, Simcox led efforts to promote innovation across HHS to improve the lives of the American people and the performance of the Department’s 29 agencies and offices including the FDA, CDC, CMS, and NIH.

When I arrived at HHS in 2017, I was surprised to receive meeting requests from lobbyists, lawyers, and even former members of Congress who represented health tech startups trying to reach HHS. We realized that many companies perceive HHS as opaque and byzantine and think they cannot directly access their government. This is why we committed The Office of the CTO to becoming the “front door” to HHS for health and health tech startups. This led us to create an outreach program called HHS Startup Day. The goal was to demystify HHS and its agencies for startups.  I travelled across the United States to visit thirteen local startup communities, accompanied by leaders from ONC, FDA, NIH, CDC, and CMS.

I learned of ScaleHealth when they hosted the HHS Startup Day in LA. I was immediately impressed by the quality of startups and vibrant culture they were promoting in their innovation center. I was energized to talk with diverse entrepreneurs that were building tangible value for our industry. ScaleHealth is addressing a critical need by creating an ecosystem where bold ideas and promising solutions can interact directly with decision makers, thought leaders, government agencies, and investors, no matter where they’re based around the world. All of the HHS speakers had valuable interactions with startups at the LA Startup Day hosted at ScareHealth, which made travelling across the US for the event extremely worthwhile for us.

I left HHS to join LifeOmic, an incredibly exciting and growing health startup based in Indianapolis. I was drawn to it partly because of the company’s collaborative “ecosystem”  and wide-lens approach to the current market, which is important to creatively disrupt it. There is a need for collaboration and communication between all parts of the healthcare ecosystem in order to realize the vision for health innovation in America that we all know is possible.

At LifeOmic we are changing the way in which diseases are diagnosed and treated.. We have created the world’s first Precision Health Cloud that combines genomic, phenotypic, health and social data to create new insights for the treatment of resistant cancers. We went back to basics and applied our mature data platform and data approach to disrupting healthcare by focusing on “precision wellness.” Our goal is to move medicine upstream and scientifically pinpoint the root causes of sickness to prevent disease in the first place. This journey led us to the direct-to-consumer market, where we have developed two science-based apps that help people take control of their health. I’m proud to say we are now working to improve the health status of our 2.5 million app user base. Our success didn’t come easily or overnight. And it didn’t happen in a vacuum. It happened in part through our relentless focus on user-feedback and human-centered design. But most importantly, we understood the importance of aligning with innovators, partners, academia, scientists, and government.

In future blog entries, I look forward to sharing my thoughts about the importance of understanding policy and government to startups, as well as how startups can build a valuable healthcare ecosystem. Until then, be well. Thank you for the work that you’re doing to create a healthier world.

Ed Simcox
Ed Simcox
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