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The Boston Globe

Business

Seven things you need to know about . . .

Sumit Nagpal, CEO, Alere Accountable Care Solutions

Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Globe reporter Robert Weisman recently spoke with Sumit Nagpal, 47, chief executive of Alere Accountable Care Solutions, a Waltham technology company that connects health care information and work flow. Here’s what he found out:

1. Nagpal dropped out of Brown University to start a company that ended up working with Steve Jobs on workstations developed by NeXT Computer, the company that Jobs founded after he was forced from Apple in the late 1980s.

“They were these beautiful machines that started appearing all over campus, and I couldn’t get enough of them. And, of course, I fell in love with Steve’s vision. I wound up helping NeXT work with Fortune 50 companies to accelerate their software development using this brand new technology called object-oriented programming. I was object expert number one.”

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2. Watching his hero Jobs taught Nagpal a lot about management.

“Steve really was about raw creativity and drive and passion. But over time, what I really learned was how you take that passion and leverage the power of incredible talent and incredible teams to convert that into world-changing solutions. That’s really the biggest takeaway from Steve.”

3. Another passion for Nagpal is improving health care.

“I grew up in health care. My dad has owned a company that designs, builds, operates, and staffs hospitals in Southeast Asia. If I wasn’t doing this, I’d be a doctor.”

4. His company, formerly known as Wellogic, developed health care information systems that help doctors and hospitals coordinate their workflow and collaborate remotely.

“This is about how you make technology invisible. So somebody sitting in Dubai can place an order and send a bunch of MRIs or X-rays into the Mayo Clinic. We just blend the technology into the woodwork so physicians and their staff can focus on their own art, their own science, and take better care of their patients rather than struggle with the technology.”

5. The federal Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, created a huge opportunity for Nagpal’s company — but also prompted him to sell it to Alere Connected Health in 2011 to access the capital needed to take advantage of that opportunity.

“Everything we’d ever dreamed about from a technology perspective was suddenly the thing that was required. We had built a health information exchange that connected information from all sorts of systems and pulled it all together for doctors to use, and now for patients. With the Affordable Care Act, electronic health records and health information exchanges became the grand opportunity to bring health care into this modern world. The market opportunity was so tremendous that we could no longer service it by growing organically.”

6. Nagpal says he knows why health care technology has been so terrible and has advanced so slowly compared to consumer technology.

“We take online trading for granted today. In health care, the incentives for transformation haven’t existed. The incentives in health care have been about performing your art on the one hand and protecting your client base on the other. That’s been the focus rather than how we all collaborate to create the best health care outcome.”

7. He also believes the Obama administration’s online health insurance exchange had one main problem. It wasn’t ready.

“It got launched prematurely. It wasn’t a fundamental problem in what they were trying to do. It highlights the challenge of a massive system getting launched before it was baked. When you launch, you have only one chance of getting it right. So you test and test and test, and you launch when it’s really baked.”

Robert Weisman can be reached at robert.weisman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeRobW.
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