The Success of Failure
Date: September 1, 2012
In a 20-month period between 2006 and 2008, Charles (Chuck) Tuchinda ’01 oversaw the introduction of three new medical information technology products, earning his then employer $25 million in new business. But Tuchinda insists his method for success “is all about failure.”
“It’s all about experimenting and failing early,” explains Tuchinda, 37, now chief innovation officer for the health care arm of Hearst Business Media and VP for innovation at two of its subsidiaries, Zynx Health and First Databank. “Rather than try to be a fortune teller, saying, this definitely will be the thing that works, I test several ideas by prototyping them, get feedback, and then make a more informed decision about which to pursue.
“I launched two products last year and I probably had 18 other projects fail, to get a yield of two,” he adds. Yet those two products already have earned Hearst more than $1 million in new business.
One of them is AlertSpace. It is designed to improve the alert system in many electronic medical record programs, which can bombard physicians and cause “alert fatigue.” “We wanted to build a system that would work with the major EMRs and cut out the ‘noise’ so that each message had some meaning to it,” he says. AlertSpace went from the drawing board to clients in about six months, which is “relatively fast for this industry,” he says.
Tuchinda’s interest in medical software started at Hopkins when his research project, overseen by pediatric cardiologist W. Reid Thompson (Fellow, HS, 1984-87), led to development of a heart sounds database. At Hopkins he also invented PagerBox, an online system that sends text messages directly to alphanumeric pagers, cellphones, and other devices and keeps patient information flowing to the internal faculty and staff. He and oncology researcher Luis Diaz (HS, 1998-2001; fellow, 2001-04, faculty, 2004-07) worked together to ensure that PagerBox re-engineered the process of inpatient health care practice.
After completing his internship and residency at Hopkins, Tuchinda earned an MBA at Harvard in 2006 and then quickly assumed three vice presidencies—for business development and product strategy, acute care solutions, and content solutions—at San Jose, Calif.-based Eclipsys Corp., a health care IT solutions vendor later acquired by Allscripts. He assumed the Hearst Business Media jobs, with offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles, in 2010.
Tuchinda and his wife, pediatrician Lynn Peng ’01, have two daughters, Alexis, 6, and Natalie, 4. He says it’s too early to tell if they will enter the family business of medicine. “One of my daughters has said she wants to be a doctor … but she also said she wants to be a Power Ranger.” Neil A. Grauer