Mike Kijewski

 

Mike is currently CEO of MedCrypt which provides data security for medical devices. Prior to starting MedCrypt, he was the founder of Gamma Basics, a radiation oncology focused software startup. Mike holds an MBA and a Master of Medical Physics. MedCrypt is based in Encinitas, San Diego. Molly, our Community Lead, linked up with Mike when over there recently.

 

 

Where did your passion for advancement in the health tech world come from?

It started when I founded my first start-up whilst studying my masters in Medical Physics. Up until this point, I was a high school physics teacher and whilst I loved teaching students, I knew I wanted to transition into healthcare. I certainly didn’t know anything about entrepreneurship. But during clinical rotations I saw a “gap” that I felt I could solve.

When spending time with radiation therapists, I could see how radiation oncology was so dependent on computers for workflow and that the data was digital from the beginning. I felt that improvements could be made to the system used. So, with my co-founders, we developed the technology that helped hospitals assess their radiation safety compliance. Once we had a proof of concept, it was great getting the product to market. We worked with hospitals internationally before Gamma Basics was sold to Varian Medical Systems in 2013. Our first customer was actually in England!

 

Tell me about the project you’re working on currently?

I’m working as CEO of MedCrypt which is a medical device cybersecurity software company based in San Diego. The software allows manufacturers to authenticate users, encrypt data and “cryptographically” sign device settings and patient prescriptions. The problem that MedCrypt is solving is one that most medical device manufacturers recognise as a concern: security. This is an interesting product as we are working directly with the medical device manufacturers rather than being involved with clinicians, like in my previous company Gamma Basics. I guess it is about solving the problem for the people that have the most benefit from your solution. That’s why MedCrypt is going straight to the medical device manufacturers. There is no doubt it is ambitious but it is going well, we have a good backing and it is really exciting leading the company.

 

You are a graduate of Wharton’s MBA programme. For the business minded of the Forward Community, would you recommend it?

I actually wrote my own article about this because it is a question quite a lot from friends and colleagues. To them, I saw there are only two good reasons to do an MBA:

  1. You want your boss’s job and you need ‘MBA’ on your CV for that to happen
  2. You have been accepted to one of the top business schools and have a few hundred thousand dollars lying around.

I obviously mean this light heartedly but when I applied for a place on a selective MBA programme, I was seeking the network that would help me grow my software company and it definitely did. Understanding the power of networking and connections to opening doors and conversations with investors, mentors and even customers (!) is essential. That said, the opportunity is expensive and if you are looking to do an MBA to learn everything you need to know about entrepreneurship, I developed a reading list for those interested which you can find here.

 

Where do you think your interest in healthcare came from?

My parents were always pretty inspiring to me. My mum was only 16, and my dad 18, whenever they had me and life wasn’t easy for them at this early point. However, both of them had the energy and the drive to achieve their aims. My dad was a truck driver at the age of 18 and worked his way up to being senior executive in his current company. Meanwhile, my mum always wanted to be a doctor and at the age of 34 she went to med school and now is an anaesthetist.

I think this really developed my own sense of achievement and has definitely brought me an energy to doing what I love. I think it is important to recognise that the day-to-day job in many professions is hard and not always what you sign up for. However, looking for opportunities to make things better, or make your mark on positively impacting a system that isn’t working the way you think it could, can give you that energy for the less exciting tasks too.

 

What advice would you have for people who want to enter the health tech space?

Often it is about bringing existing tech to new areas. If you see an opportunity to improve something, you can pull in connections. This helps you figure out the exact methods underpinning the solution you have envisioned. I think I, like many people, used to think that you needed to be an expert in a field before you can be an entrepreneur. Realistically, many entrepreneurs have no idea what they are doing while they are doing it, they are learning as they go. When thinking of solutions to a problem you have defined, it is important to try and think of adaptability and how things will work in different healthcare systems.

 

Thank you Mike for an insight into your fascinating journey so far. Mike also posts a range of articles on Medium regularly so do check him out there. This piece is part of a broader Forward Community Series where we will be featuring people doing something worth talking about in the healthcare world! Through this series, we aim to provide inspiration for the innovative, medical & tech-loving members of the FWD Community.

If you think your story, or someone else’s, would make interesting reading for the Forward Community then hit us up: molly@forwardapp.co.uk. We are always keen to hear feedback on what you are reading!