What could we do to change the world?

We do a lot of different last minute and/or short term tasks. Somethings have a long view in mind, but nothing so far has really been aimed at completely –I have to say it– revolutionizing existing business models, processes or tools in the world. We weren’t blessed off the cut as a company with 8 digits in the bank to sit back, hire expensive developers, and just wait for an class A VC to believe in us. So we always look for ways to improve margins, growth customer base, increase lifetime value etc., stuff that makes investors happy and improves the overall value of the business in an immediately tangible way.

Perhaps it’s not too late to change that. If we were to change everything, how would we do it? Paul Graham wrote a post about frighteningly ambitious ideas that I often think back to. Biggest and scary ideas are fun to think about; taking all of humankind into your protective arms and making something better in their lives is just a cool way to act if you can. At least it feels cooler than only thinking about the small niche market ones. From our lens, if we were to change the world I would seek out ideas that would help a lot of people and businesses, and improve the experience for all players in a market, instead of just helping a small slide of the pie, in a segment.

Some areas almost frighteningly ambitious ideas of interest to me at the moment are:

  • Simple calendars for businesses: a huge problem for businesses and companies like us who want to integrate to those calendars is that everyone is on different calendar software, it’s hard to integrate to them, there is not much consistency in how people set up their calendars. What if we created a universal calendar application with flexible GUI and easy-as-pie markup? Something everyone used, that implemented the best in class for supportability, security, integration, and product enhancements?
  • Universal API and protocol for appointments: Similar to the last idea, except more focused on having a central application for parsing, passing, and receiving data; instead of a baseline application for calendars. A Universal API would work something like the Airline Reservation System enabling all medical appointments to use one system for posting availability. Let’s ignore all the problems that would come with getting existing Electronic Health Record applications to support and run on the same API. If someone got behind this single idea and the major players bought in, it would solve many problems, for doctors, EHRs, Health Clinics, and more. When you look at the size of the medical industry, the value of the market. While the ARS works for airlines and was needed to get an international network of airports and airlines to coexist, the pain of daily lost patient data, is just a death by 1,000 cuts. A universal API would normalize the system and solve many of those problems.
  • Patient focused medical provider evaluation system: Ever since we launched our doctor reviews enhancements and tried to get doctors to put a review widget on their website, we realized something – the other companies that provide patient reviews in their provider directory/listings are cheating. They take down bad reviews and only leave the ones the doctors approve of. As you can guess this made it hard for us to provide a new review system based product to doctors, simply because we don’t want to participate in this type of activity. The subject of online reviews has always been a shaky ground to stand on. It’s not fair that consumers can’t trust product and restaurant reviews, but when it comes to finding a doctor who has your health in their hands, it seems beyond the level of arguably unethical to hide the testimony of others bad experiences from the public when presenting medical providers information online in a way that leads people to believe they can trust what they see and make a well informed judgement about which doctor or clinic they choose to visit. So with that front load in mind, this idea takes the non-for-profit model in mind of giving 100% aggregate, accuracy of provider information to patients. Perhaps not as ground breaking or across the board helpful to all, but it would be nice if for a change there was one place to find that kind of information and safely know some kind of bias doesn’t skew the results in someone’s favor.

There’s more ideas I’m sure, these are just ones that have come back around every so often. If well executed, any of them could really make the word a better place. Just need the right pocket of money to support these not so profitable businesses.

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