HBS-NEO Harvard Business School Club of Northeastern Ohio HBS-NEO

Membership: Member Interviews

Ethan Cohen

(Interview continued from e-mail newsletter.)

Q. How much of what you do is IT, and how much of it is healthcare?

My job requires deep knowledge of Health Information Management ("HIM") because what we do is part of a larger network process. So, we are always looking at where and how we fit into a larger solution for HIM. There is also a lot of play around revenue cycle management, which addresses how quickly and efficiently hospitals can get reimbursed for services: the transcription and coding processes are critical parts of the revenue cycle management process.

Q. Do we have, or should we have, in Northeast Ohio, a core strength in the specific combination of IT and healthcare?

I view IT and healthcare as a safer bet than perhaps a biopharma type of bet. From my perspective, biopharma is rather long term and it's typically a home run or strike out scenario. I think in the IT-and-healthcare space you're more likely to get a single, double, or triple.

However, viewed by those outside Northeast Ohio, we're probably comparatively stronger in diagnostic or medical equipment than in the IT-and-healthcare space. Steris and Invacare are good examples of our strengths in medical equipment, as well as some recent spin-offs I've seen from the Cleveland Clinic that provide specific pieces of equipment for heart surgery and the like.

So, there are some IT-healthcare companies in Cleveland, but I wouldn't say we have a critical mass of them at this point. I wish I saw more of them.

Q. Did your HBS education help you? How?

It certainly has helped me. I have an atypical background for a CTO in that it's not a heavy tech. background, but instead it's more business oriented. The great challenge of IT products is not understanding the technology, but understanding the market...not understanding how to build the product, but understanding what to build. HBS helped me understand how important it is to understand market needs so that I can translate these into technical needs.

Q. What do you think the HBS Club NEO does well?

It does a great job of providing a forum for people to come together, network, and see a bit of what's going on in Northeast Ohio.

Q. What would you like to see it do better?

I don't know if it's realistic, but I'd like to see it help promote greater growth in the Cleveland area relative to businesses, especially new businesses. I'd like to see it more involved with entrepreneurship. I think Cleveland needs to develop a coherent strategy and push forward with how to become an attractive place for people to start new enterprises. Unless Cleveland gets arms around the critical mass game, it will lose share to larger institutions and towns/regions and the brain drain will become irreversible.

See other Member Interviews.