刘燕 ／ Yan Liu Johnson
Occupation: Chairwoman and CEO of Wuxi AnyHealth Technology Co., Ltd
Tell me about your career path, and how you wound up in Beijing.
I started my career in the Boston area, where I studied statistics and then worked at Yale as a biostatistician in the Department of Psychiatry at the New Haven Hospital. Later, I did my MBA at Yale and started working for McKinsey in the healthcare field. That’s how I first became interested in the healthcare industry – working in biostatistics. I later took a position with Accenture, and during the dotcom era I even did an interview with Ma Yun, and he offered me a job doing business development. I looked at the offer letter, and then I wrote up my own business plan. I wanted to start a company that would improve efficiency and information availability in healthcare, but it was too early – nobody really knew what the internet did or how it could work yet. The technology hadn’t developed enough yet.
Eventually I decided to go B2C – back to consulting – and I started a firm helping US companies go to China, and vice versa. That was about in 2010, but I kept thinking about my experience in healthcare and how it could improve China, and really make a difference in the healthcare industry. After I saw how well-connected health devices and health services were in Korea, I went to Wuxi, a leader in sensor technology, and learned more about the new “Internet of Things” could be part of the healthcare industry. Now I work in Beijing, where we are focusing on the critical needs of the healthcare industry – using technology to improve health services and provide preventative care. Right now there are not any big, dominant companies in this industry so there is a great opportunity here.
What sort of challenges are you dealing with?
Most people don’t know the difference between health management and health services. Even people who are working in healthcare say that they are in health management but really they are working in health services! Service is giving healthcare to people, but management is monitoring and changing the way that services are provided. For example, lots of insurance companies believe that providing annual health checkups is health management. But this is health service! It does not matter how much money you throw at health checkups if you don’t manage the results and get usable information to the companies and patients. That’s why we have started offering products to unify the data of health checkups and combine it into one platform. We can take that data and tell patients how to manage their health so that they will not need a more expensive service. We can tell them “you are biologically 35 years old but the age of your heart is more like 45 years old because your diet is not health.” Then we can also help them make a diet plan by connecting them with one of our dieticians directly via WeChat. This is actually health management, but many people still don’t understand it yet.
What is the best advice you ever received?
“Stay young at heart, and keep learning.” You have to always keep learning or you will soon be irrelevant.
Do you have a favorite travel destination?
My favorite destination is always a place I haven’t been to yet. I’m always exploring.
Do you have a favorite book?
Probably “Outliers” by Malcom Gladwell.
Why did you join AmCham?
I joined AmCham because of the community. I’ve learned a lot through AmCham too – about the trends in other businesses and industries and that’s important for me. You can’t start a business alone and hide in the corner – you need to be part of the community and know what’s going on. Plus, all the members could be potential customers!