Startup Health Stakes Its Future On The ‘Moonshot Mentality’

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At the recent Startup Health Festival (pictured) the health tech hub unveiled 10 healthcare “moonshots” as well as the audacious goal of seeing 100 years of progress in 25 years. We asked Startup Health co-founder Unity Stoakes to describe the moonshot mentality, and explain why it is so critical.

As told to Logan Plaster. Photos by Monica Semergiu 

We are living in a moment when anything is possible. It’s not a time for innovators, entrepreneurs or doctors to be thinking incrementally, because all of these amazing conditions are aligned for extraordinary progress in healthcare.

The moonshot mentality is about thinking boldly, doing the impossible and pushing boundaries. Combine that mentality with an army of entrepreneurs – who we call health transformers – and we believe we can make 100 years of progress in 25 years.

To do this, we have to rethink everything. A practical example is the idea of a siloed approach to healthcare innovation within institutions. There is currently very little sharing of knowledge or data between facilities. There’s been a hoarding mentality. So the first thing that needs to be done is collaboration – break down these silos. Healthcare needs to embrace the open source mentality of the tech industry so that other people can build on your progress.

We also need to completely rethink old business models. Why would we focus on solving cancer in markets where they can’t afford the drugs? Or why would we focus on mental health issues in India if there are fewer than 2,000 psychiatrists for 1 billion people. Everyone assumes that we have to focus on markets with the best bottom line. We have to rethink these business models from the ground up.

Why is the moonshot mentality important? Because there are billions of people dying of health issues that can be resolved using the tools and technologies that have already been invented. They are on a shelf or in a lab somewhere. They just haven’t been unleashed on the world yet.

One practical first step is that we need to inspire our most talented doctors to think about innovation in a new way. And that starts at medical school. We’re just starting to see early signs of this, which is a good sign for things to come.


Logan has created, edited and designed healthcare publications since 2005. After redesigning and managing Emergency Physicians Monthly, he founded Emergency Physicians International in 2010, and then launched Telemedicine Magazine in 2015 where he served as writer/editor until 2018. Logan is the co-founder of The mHealth Toolbox, a project that brings practicing physicians into the conversation about innovative medical technology. Logan also served as the Director of Communications for The IFEM Foundation, the leading non-profit supporting global emergency care development.

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