Targeted Immunotherapy — A gamechanger in cancer care that may be the key to preventing cancer deaths. The therapy works with the body’s own immune system to detect and fight tumors, essentially giving the immune system weapons of mass cancer destruction. Many targeted immunotherapies have completed FDA-approval and many others are in the clinical trial phase. This may be the biggest revolutionary breakthrough in 20 years.
Reading the news can be so demoralizing: climate change, war, fires, epidemics, rogue AI, mental health, authoritarianism, extreme partisanship. But humans need hope. In order for us to create a positive future, we need to be able to have hope that there can be a positive future. What is the “Case for Optimism” over the next decades? What can we look forward to and hope for to help us strive for a more positive future?
In this series, we aim to explore and highlight the positive aspects, potential breakthroughs, and reasons for optimism that lie ahead in the coming decade and beyond. We are talking to authors, researchers, entrepreneurs, scientists, futurists, and other experts who can shed light on the exciting advancements, innovations, and opportunities that await us. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Tom Dorsett.
Tom Dorsett, a native Austinite has been in the healthcare field for 20 years as an entrepreneur and business development executive. Tom’s focus is creating innovative solutions across the healthcare spectrum that have a positive effect on patients. In 2018, Tom co-founded RazorMetrics with his business partner, Siva Mohan, M.D., to lower drug spend for self-funded employers and health plans.
Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I was born and raised in Austin, Texas. Growing up there was an iconic experience; the culture and vibe of the city inspired my adventurous spirit. I was much younger than my other siblings when my parents divorced, and during that upheaval, I found my refuge and passion in BMX freestyling — a thrilling escape into daredevil tricks.
Austin had a healthy number of BMX enthusiasts, and I wanted to test my mettle against them. I built a quarter-pipe ramp, crafting it with rescued wood and any other materials I could find. It was a labor of love.
I practiced daily, trying to learn new tricks on the quarter-pipe and wiping out. Frequently. Falling was part of the process. I just picked myself up and tried again.
In those moments of falling and crashing, I discovered an important aspect of BMX freestyling, knowing how to fix the bike. I broke the chain, popped off the stem, snapped the brake cable, and other impact damages. I taught myself the art of repair and how each component fits together like a puzzle. This self-taught knowledge let me get back on my feet swiftly and instilled a sense of self-reliance and independence.
Each competition was fierce and pushed me to the next level in mental perseverance, resilience, and determination. Austin will forever hold a special place in my heart, where dreams took flight, and a simple bike catalyzed a remarkable journey into entrepreneurship.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
In 7th grade, my dad gave me a book by Napoleon Hill, “Think and Grow Rich.” He was a nonfiction and history buff and thought this book would benefit me. And it was. This was the first book that genuinely grabbed my attention, and kept it till the end. I read the whole book over a single weekend.
The author talked about mindsets and principles for becoming successful. He encouraged having faith to start new businesses. The advice that struck me the most was his focus on positive thinking. I often quote his most famous line, “What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” The book planted a seed that would later flourish into a full-grown pursuit of entrepreneurship.
Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
Joel Trammell. He’s a longtime entrepreneur in Austin with a large number of successful exits. He is the most engaged mentor whom I know I can trust for sound advice, important contacts, novel ideas, and even funding. He’s an investor in RazorMetrics as well.
His book, “The CEO Tightrope,” has been a great help. You know, there’s tons of business books out there, but there’s not that many written by CEOs specifically for CEOs. It gave me a framework for operating a business the way that I do, and it gave me a certain amount of confidence that I knew what the hell I was doing.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
My latest venture is RazorMetrics, which I co-founded with Dr. Siva Mohan, an interventional cardiologist. RazorMetrics aims at one of the biggest problems out there, outrageous drug costs. One in four insured Americans cannot buy the medication they need because it is too expensive. As a physician, Dr. Mohan constantly got calls from patients who got sticker shock at the pharmacy. It was particularly problematic with elderly patients, as many were on fixed incomes.
Healthcare in the US is incredibly inefficient, and drug prescribing is no different. Unfortunately, physicians don’t have reliable access to their patient’s drug coverage information, so they prescribe the drugs they know without the ability to understand the cost to their patients. When the patient calls from the pharmacy, prescribing turns into a game of trial and error.
RazorMetrics works to make a dent in that problem through our technology, which allows us to assist physicians in lowering their patient’s drug costs. The technology communicates lower-cost alternatives to physicians, and using machine learning makes it easier to scale across millions of patients, saving them out-of-pocket costs for life-giving medicines.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Risk tolerance. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. It’s risky for you and the people you bring along to help create a tangible company out of an idea. You are risking your money and other’s people money. And very few startups make it. I embrace the risk for the privilege of creating something new in the world.
- Abiding optimism. One thing my business partner have in common is optimism. This is not seeing the world through a positivity filter and sugarcoating the world. To us, genuine optimism is seeing problems as opportunities for change. We constantly ask the question, “How can this be better?” and then challenge each other to answer that question.
- Tenacity. When starting a new business, I hear a lot of no’s but the yeses keep me going. “Every adversity, every failure, every heartbreak, carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” — Napoleon Hill and the power of positive thinking again!
When we refer to being optimistic about the future, what exactly do we mean?
Optimism is having the confidence to expect a positive outcome. No matter how dire things may be, there is a path to a positive outcome. If you don’t believe that, then you’re stuck.
Why is it important to have an optimistic outlook about the future?
Outlook is the future because what we think we create. If you have a negative outlook, the only possible future is negative.
Isaac Newton’s first law of motion applies to Optimism as well. The law states that a body in motion stays in motion and a body at rest stays at rest. Optimism creates inertia that drives individuals to create positive outcomes whereas pessimism is paralyzing.
What are some reasons people might feel pessimistic about the future, and how do you suggest we address these concerns?
There have always been credible sounding reasons to be pessimistic. I read that there have been more than 100 predictions of the apocalypse going back as far as 66 CE when Simon bar Giora claimed the Jewish uprising against the Romans in Judea as the final end-time battle. They even minted special coins for the occasion. Times of uncertainty breed fear, and nourish negative thinking.
I work in health care technology and we are seeing tremendous and exciting gains.
“5 Reasons To Be Optimistic About The Next Ten and Twenty Years?”
- Targeted Immunotherapy — A gamechanger in cancer care that may be the key to preventing cancer deaths. The therapy works with the body’s own immune system to detect and fight tumors, essentially giving the immune system weapons of mass cancer destruction. Many targeted immunotherapies have completed FDA-approval and many others are in the clinical trial phase. This may be the biggest revolutionary breakthrough in 20 years.
- Gene therapy — A treatment that makes repairs on the genetic level is practically limitless in the clinical setting. Current gene therapies in Clinical trials repair mutated / defective cells or makes them more visible to the immune system for targeted elimination.
- Lecanemab — The very first drug in decades to show any efficacy at slowing the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Brain health is so important and Alzheimer’s is devasting to families. The drug recently got FDA approval and it will make a huge difference in people’s lives.
- AI — There are numerous applications for AI in healthcare. Here is just one example, Electronic Health Records become physician-friendly when an AI interface replaces the current clunky versions that take away valuable patient time. Another, AI could help physicians diagnose patients more easily by sourcing outcome datasets. With AI, our healthcare system can fluidly move toward well-health and value-based care versus our current sick care model. The possibilities are endless.
- Carbon-neutral energy development — Climate change is something that impacts all of us. I was recently invited to hear a talk with Bill Gates about his new business incubator, Breakthrough Energy. He said the world needs innovative, technological breakthroughs to solve the problem. Many of the companies started through his organization are on the cutting edge of optimism and innovation.
How can we ensure that the progress we make in technology contributes to a more optimistic future and doesn’t exacerbate societal problems?
When AI takes the place of human discernment, then it goes too far. Computers are not able to replace human intuition. There is a great story about a Russian lieutenant colonel of the Soviet Air Defense Forces named Stanislav Petrov. He was in charge of launching nuclear weapons, and when the alarms started going off, his job was to launch. He suspected something was wrong with the alert system and waited to make a call to confirm that Russia was under attack. They weren’t. The computers misinterpreted cloud formations. If the decision had been left up to the hardware, then WWIII may have happened in 1983. We need to create a regulatory framework around AI to make certain it is not misused or overused.
How do you maintain your optimism during challenging times?
Honestly, it comes naturally. I am hardwired that way. I purposefully stop myself from drilling too far into negative themes because I would rather focus on what’s possible and try to do my part to create a positive outcome for clients and patients. We only have so much time and brain space to imagine a better future.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 😊
Mark Cuban, because he is working to tackle the same problem of high drug costs but in a much different way. His Cost Plus Drug Company is incredibly complementary to RazorMetrics and we have discussed a partnership with his people. It would be great to get a drink with him and talk more about solving America’s healthcare problems.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!
Tom Dorsett of RazorMetrics On The Case For Optimism About The Next Ten & Twenty Years was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.