MedCity News: ‘Shark’ Herjavec gets health IT, O’Leary wants to but has reservations

February 24, 2017

Herjavec Group Founder & CEO, Robert Herjavec, delivered the closing keynote at the 2017 HIMSS Annual Conference & Exhibition on February 23, 2017. He spoke about innovation and risk in health IT, highlighting that healthcare is the most hacked vertical today – and that more proactive defenses, including employee education, are needed to improve security in this space.

A complete summary of the keynote was originally posted by MedCity News and can be reviewed below:

Normally, the closing keynote at the annual HIMSS conference is something light, and often outside the organization’s healthcare sweet spot — but with some good advice for those working in health IT. It’s kind of meant to reward attendees for sticking around a day after the vendor show has ended.

Thursday, those who lingered for the end of HIMSS17 in Orlando, Florida, got a little of both, courtesy of Robert Herjavec and Kevin O’Leary, two of the stars of ABC’s “Shark Tank.” It’s clear that Herjavec gets health IT and it’s clear that O’Leary wants to get it, though some in attendance or watching from afar begged to differ.

“This our fastest-growing vertical,” said Herjavec, who has been in cybersecurity for 30 years. Herjavec currently runs Herjavec Group, an information security company headquartered in Toronto.

He said that the FBI has called healthcare the most hacked industry in the world right now, and Herjavec expects that to be true next year as well.

“Why do I want your health record? It’s the money!” he declared, parroting a catch phrase from O’Leary.

Money and credit ratings can be restored, but stolen healthcare data cannot be if used improperly, Herjavec explained. “The fundamental difference in healthcare is, it’s not just about money. It’s about lives,” he said.

“The government is not going to go to Russia and China and prosecute somebody for stealing your health records,” Herjavec added. Then he gave a shameless plug, perhaps stealing a page from fellow Shark Mark Cuban, who famously returns his email personally. “If any of you need help with security, email me:,” he said.

O’Leary wasn’t so bold in soliciting business, but he wasn’t shy, either, befitting his “Mr. Wonderful” persona and occasional comparisons to Donald Trump. (Indeed, O’Leary has political ambitions, too; he is running to replace former Prime Minister Stephen Harper as leader of Canada’s Conservative Party. The Tory leadership election is set for May 27.)

He offered one piece of advice to startups who seek investments from him on “Shark Tank,” “Dragon’s Den” — the Canadian version of the Japanese show that inspired “Shark Tank” — or through any other means.

For those on TV, he said pitchers should be able to explain their value proposition in 90 seconds or less. All entrepreneurs coming to him also must explain why they can execute their business plans and, above all, know their financials.

“You have to know your numbers,” O’Leary said, “If you don’t know your numbers … you deserve to burn in hell in perpetuity, and I will put you there personally.”

He then got specific about healthcare, chastising the industry for its failure to achieve widespread interoperability of patient data.

“The productivity potential is huge. The amount of money that wants to come into this sector is unbelievable,” O’Leary said. But healthcare has to get its act together in terms of digitization and interoperability of health records before he or many of his fellow venture capitalists will write a lot of checks to healthcare startups.

“It makes no sense that my [medical] image can’t get from L.A. to Boston, but that’s the reality,” the globetrotting O’Leary said, using a personal example.

“You’ve got to have standard APIs. It’s kind of ridiculous that you don’t,” he admonished the HIMSS17 audience.

Certainly, all the big health IT vendors and many of the small ones have been preaching the API gospel of late. But there are other factors at work preventing wider data sharing.

The immediate reaction was skeptical, at least according to the Twitter stream and to the chatter among those departing the Orange County Convention Center.

That goes primarily for healthcare providers, but also to a lesser extent for some vendors.

Informal conversations in the queue for HIMSS-provided airport buses centered around the perverse incentives in American healthcare. Even with APIs to open up data flow, healthcare organizations won’t want to send images from Los Angeles to Boston, or between any given two points as long as fee-for-service reimbursement makes it a poor business decision to exchange health records.

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About Herjavec Group

Dynamic IT entrepreneur Robert Herjavec founded Herjavec Group in 2003 to provide cybersecurity products and services to enterprise organizations. Herjavec Group delivers SOC 2 Type 2 certified managed security services supported by state-of-the-art, PCI compliant, Security Operations Centers, operated 24/7/365 by certified security professionals. This expertise is coupled with leadership positions across a wide range of functions including consulting, professional services & incident response. Herjavec Group has offices globally including across Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit

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About Herjavec Group

Dynamic entrepreneur Robert Herjavec founded Herjavec Group in 2003 to provide cybersecurity products and services to enterprise organizations. We have been recognized as one of the world’s most innovative cybersecurity operations leaders, and excel in complex, multi-technology environments. Our service expertise includes Advisory Services, Technology Architecture & Implementation, Identity Services, Managed Security Services, Threat Management and Incident Response. Herjavec Group has offices and Security Operations Centers across the United States, United Kingdom and Canada.

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