Matthew Zachary, CEO of Offscrip Media, has had multiple careers despite the fact that he shouldn’t have had any. He had studied to be a concert pianist and composer and conductor through college, but at the age of 21, on his way to study in a USC graduate music program with Hans Zimmer, he was diagnosed with a rare brain cancer and told he had 6 months to live. That was in 1995.
Matthew credits his uncle, a geneticist, with saving his life, serving as his medical “sherpa” and helping him “having the chutzpah to challenge established treatment.” But his healthcare experience, and especially the 6 years it took to recover his immune system post-treatment, made clear to him that young patients weren’t getting the information they needed nor the support required to thrive after a medical crisis.
Matthew had a thriving media career when a chance meeting of another recovered patient who had the same brain cancer led him to realize that there was a vast gap between patients’ need for knowledge and community and the system’s ability to deliver it. He founded Stupid Cancer in 2006 to help fill this gap, focused especially on helping young people who had survived cancer and were seeking to live out life as normally as possible. During the 12 years he led the organization, every health tech company focused on cancer knocked on Matthew’s door; it led him to the realization that entrepreneurs, by and large, just don’t understand how to build for or reach the right people to ensure their offering makes sense.
Matthew has a special beef with how Silicon Valley thinks about healthcare, feeling that the culture leads to building the wrong things for the wrong people. And he further thinks that venture investors don’t care enough to invest in the right things most of the time. As such, Matthew is firm believer in the essential role of peer to peer care and the importance of life hacks, especially when the traditional delivery system doesn’t provide the answers. It is his view that for-profit companies can’t address cancer in an interesting way unless it stops being profit driven, though he recognizes the limitations of the not-for-profit sector as well.
Join us for this fun show where we talk to Matthew about his long career in and around healthtech and media – he had the first healthcare-related radio show and interviewed 2000 people over 14 years. He was also the first speaker (and piano player) at the inaugural Health2.0 Conference. We talk to him about what it’s like to see healthtech having its moment, what led to the formation of Stupid Cancer and what it was like to turn the organization over to others, and his new initiative, OffScrip Media, which has reconnected him with his love of being behind the microphone and which is billed as, “a podcast that calls out all sorts of stupid BS in healthcare through raw conversations about advocacy, heroism, and the audacity of health.”
We are grateful to Manatt Health for sponsoring today’s episode of Tech Tonics. Manatt Health integrates strategic business consulting, public policy acumen, legal excellence and deep analytics capabilities to better serve the complex needs of clients across America’s healthcare system. Together with it’s parent company, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, the firm’s multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping its clients across all industries grow and prosper.
Matthew composed and plays Simplicity, his favorite of his own works