West Wireless Health Institute CEO Don Casey steps down

By Brian Dolan

Don CaseyLast week the West Wireless Health Institute's CEO Don Casey announced his resignation. He plans to join an as yet unnamed "major health care company" where he plans to bring the institute's mission of lowering the cost of healthcare. The WWHI has not yet named a replacement CEO.

Prior to joining the WWHI in March 2010, Casey was the worldwide chairman for Johnson & Johnson’s comprehensive care group, where he managed Johnson & Johnson’s cardiovascular, diagnostic, diabetes and vision care global franchises. Casey led J&J's chronic disease management strategy, which included patient-centric solutions and innovations with medical device offerings for diabetes and cardiovascular disorders.

The institute has been busy in recent months. Here's a roundup of 2012 announcements about and mentions of the non-profit organization:

At the end of last year, a rep from the WWHI shared insights on tablet adoption at US hospitals: Less than one percent of US hospitals have fully functional tablet systems, according to Jonathan Mack, director of clinical research and development at the West Wireless Health Institute. Despite financial incentives from the government, US hospitals are still slow to adopt EMRs, Mack told Kaiser Health News in a recent interview. Those that do might not have access to a native tablet application from the EMR developer, and even then, the app might include only read-only functionality. To circumvent this, virtualization programs such as Citrix are used on EMRs designed for keyboard input, making for a slow and frustrating usage experience.

In January the WWHI kicked off a research study with its partner, the Carlos Slim Health Institute (CSHI), in Mexico that aims to track the impact mobile health and connected devices have on maternal health in the state of Yucatan in Mexico. The technologies used in the study are part of a “Wireless Pregnancy Remote Monitoring Kit,” developed by WWHI and CSHI.

In February the institute announced that six hospitals were in the process of deploying or had already deployed its “medical grade wireless open framework” in their facilities, including, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, CA and HealthAlliance Hospital, a member of UMass Memorial Health Care, in Leominster, MA. Scripps Health in San Diego is in the process of deploying it, too.

At the beginning of this year, WWHI Vice Chairman Dr. Eric Topol also published his book, The Creative Destruction of Medicine, which we reviewed along with an interview with Dr. Topol in a post earlier this month: How Medicine Will be Topol'd (few picked up on the "toppled" pun, unfortunately.)

Casey remains on the WWHI's board and is also on the board of a small pharmaceutical company called Biodel. Given the characterization of his next gig as being at a "major" healthcare company, however, it is unlikely that Biodel is where he's headed full-time.

For more details on Casey's resignation, read the press release below:

PRESS RELEASE: SAN DIEGO, CA – March 16, 2012 – The Gary and Mary West Wireless Health Institute announced today that its inaugural Chief Executive Officer, Donald M. Casey Jr., will resign his position as CEO while retaining a seat as a Director on the Institute's Board. Casey expects to accept a position with a major health care company, where he will continue to carry the Institute's message that lowering the cost of healthcare is good not only for society as a whole, but also for patients, health care providers, and business organizations.

The Institute, a non-profit medical research organization, was founded by Gary and Mary West in 2009 and is dedicated to lowering the cost of health care through its research, analysis, advocacy and implementation of potential solutions.

"We believe that the cost of health care is the most pressing issue facing the country today,” said Gary West, Founder and Chairman of the West Wireless Health Institute. “Throughout Don's tenure over the course of the last two years, we have built an effective and capable organization at the Institute, including the recruitment of a world-class management team. We have also launched related organizations, including the West Health Policy Center and the West Health Investment Fund, all aimed at lowering the cost of health care. We are grateful for Don's service during this foundational period."

"In addition to our top-notch management team, we have an outstanding Board of Directors and have already initiated a search for a new CEO. Based on the enthusiasm and caliber of our top candidates thus far for this position, we have no doubt this is one of the premier jobs in the health care sector. We are optimistic that an exceptional successor will be named soon,” said West. "While we of course would have preferred not to lose Don, we are heartened that his experience with us in creating and promoting low cost health care solutions will help to influence the decision-making of a major health care company and catalyze the industry's focus on the urgency of the cost problem."

"I have been extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Gary and Mary West and the entire West Health team to build an outstanding organization,” said Casey. “All of America should be grateful to Gary and Mary for their commitment to lowering the cost of health care in this country. In my new role, I will focus on bringing novel, cost-effective solutions to the health care marketplace, so I am pleased to be carrying on the important work of West Health."

"I am deeply committed to lowering the cost of health care," said Casey. "My tenure as CEO of this one-of-a-kind Institute has provided me a unique opportunity to dive into this national issue in great depth and has strengthened my belief in the Institute's important mission. I look forward to bringing to the business community a fresh perspective on providing cost-effective health care solutions to the public."

The first quarter of 2012 has been a period of tremendous activity for the Institute and its related entities. In addition to the announcement of the West Health Policy Center, the Institute sponsored the Care Innovation Summit in Washington D.C. with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services attended by more than 1,200 people. The Institute's Wireless Health Council announced the release of a novel reference architecture to create a Medical Grade Wireless Utility available at no cost to hospitals and health care systems throughout the United States.

Additionally, the Institute announced, with the Carlos Slim Health Institute, the Sense4Baby™ wireless fetal monitor pilot research study in Mexico. Over the course of the past two years, the Institute has grown from less than six full time employees to a team of more than seventy that includes physicians, engineers, software experts, financial analysts, and other critical support personnel.

The other directors of the Institute are Gary West, Dr. Eric Topol, Charles Sederstrom, Esq. and Jim Hasson, Esq.


The West Wireless Health Institute (www.westwirelesshealth.org) is the only medical research organization in the world focused on lowering health care costs through technology and innovation. The San Diego-based Institute was founded in 2009 by the Gary and Mary West Foundation, and is based in San Diego, California, the global center for health care innovation.