Leah Houston, MD
Founder & CEO, HPEC
What is it that you are currently doing professionally?
Building a company and creating a movement to save medicine.
Tell us about your career path.
I practiced as an Emergency Physician across the US for ~10 years, primarily as a locum tenens physician. One day I learned that a hospital I was working for used my professional identity to bill for patient care that was not rendered by me. I was no longer licensed in that state which is the only reason they were caught. It opened my eyes, not only to the legal fraud of identity theft, but the fraud against patients and the implications to safe patient care. That lead me to start HPEC which is a cutting edge solution to the identity and credentialing problem. We create direct physician access control to our professional credentials digitally. Our solution not only could have prevented what happened to me, and not only can prevent fraud in this way, but it can be leveraged to solve many other problems throughout the greater healthcare system.
Can you cite any particular instance(s) or individual(s) that influenced your choices?
In general while practicing I saw how poorly our system is run, and how much friction we face as practicing physicians. When I entered Medical School EMR’s were not yet commonplace and when I graduated from Residency they were required. Seeing how physicians essentially were turned into data entry clerks during that time, combined with my experience of identity theft made me realize that we need to own the solutions that are designed with us in mind in order to fix this system.
What challenges have you faced in your medical career?
In all honesty it comes down to one word. Disrespect. I think we have all experienced the disrespect, and they use victim blaming language like “burnout” to describe the outcome, but I along with most physicians have experienced the near complete stripping of our practice autonomy and the disrespect of our time. The uncompensated administrative burdens are piling up for all of us and we need organizations that have our back. AMWA is a great organization for women, and we are building HPEC so all physicians can have a voice.
Have a zero tolerance policy for disrespect and bad behavior. The very instant anyone- boss, colleague, administrator, boyfriend, husband etc is disrespectful: 1.) politely but firmly call it out. 2.) give them an opportunity to correct it with a time limit 3.) leave if it is not corrected the first time. It may be hard, but we need to be more strict with how we allow others to treat us, and what we allow will persist. We are often training those around us that we will continue to roll over and take the abuse. We need to be strong enough to walk away. It may be hard and often scary especially for those of us with children or in debt but I promise in the end we will be better for it. I know I am.
I thought about making HPEC a non-profit but I realized physicians are often sick of constantly being asked for donations. Because we have a revenue generating business in credentialing, something that affects all of us, I knew we could build a physician owned and physician designed solution that we collectively own and control. Also when I found crowdfunding I realized it was a unique opportunity for anyone to invest in a company that could grow to be a billion dollar unicorn one day, which is what we believe HPEC has the potential to be. We are a physician owned company and we want to keep it that way. The only way for us to own our future is to invest in our future. We engaged StartEngine to make it possible for any physician to own a piece of this company for as little as $500 which is a very unique opportunity that closes very soon. Check us out at: https://www.startengine.com/offering/hpec and learn more at: https://www.hpec.io/