Medicine X alum and inventor Michael Seres leaves legacy of patient involvement in health care innovation
By Rachel Levin
The Medicine X community lost one of its most impactful leaders on May 30 when Michael Seres, 51, died of sepsis. A survivor of an intestinal transplant and three bouts of cancer, Seres brought a patient perspective to the center of conversations about solving health care’s most pressing problems. He was an entrepreneur whose company 11 Health developed the world’s first smart ostomy bag and introduced an innovative patient coaching program.
Seres was involved in Medicine X since its earliest days and participated in numerous ways over the years. “He [first] applied for the Medicine X program from his hospital bed when he was getting ready to go in for surgery for his transplant,” says Medicine X founder and executive director Larry Chu, MD. Seres became an ePatient scholar in 2012 and Medicine X’s inaugural patient-in-residence in 2015. He was also a frequent speaker at the annual conference, an ePatient advisor, a member of the Medicine X Advisory Council, and an entrepreneur-in-residence.
“The magic of Michael is that he imagined for you the best that you could become — and then he helped you get there.”
Chu notes Seres represented in its purest form Medicine X’s philosophy of “Everyone Included,” meaning patients, caregivers, providers, technologists and researchers collaborate to bring forth health care innovation. Seres “helped [academics] see the opportunity for including patients in clinical trials and research,” says Chu. “And for clinicians, he really helped us see how patients can be our partners in co-producing health care solutions.”
Additionally, Seres raised the profile of “patientpreneurs” through the example he set with 11 Health. “Michael often said that he felt like he had been given a second chance at life and he didn’t want to waste it,” says Medicine X presenter and Senior VP of Humana Mona Siddiqui, MD, who counted Seres as one of her closest friends. “He put his entire spirit into driving things forward [with the company]. He didn’t really see obstacles as a barrier.”
Despite juggling business and family commitments with ongoing health challenges, Seres always made time to help others. Medicine X Advisor, program speaker and Executive Director of Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund Debbie Lin, PhD, describes Seres as a “very compassionate and empathetic person” who genuinely cared about his friends and colleagues.
“He created a company that is a family,” adds Karen Solis, the head of patient experience at 11 Health and a former e-Patient scholar.
Whether Seres was advising patients or health care industry leaders, “he was just a wonderful champion,” says Siddiqui. “He was always encouraging [and] being the cheerleader.”
Chu identifies Seres’s ability to empower others as one of his greatest gifts. “The magic of Michael is that he imagined for you the best that you could become — and then he helped you get there.”
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