Considered one of the web’s top blogs in health care and medicine, KevinMD.com regularly takes a look at American health care, with physicians, patients and – in Larry Istrail’s case – students weighing in with their perspectives.
In April, rising M3 Istrail’s essay, The Largest Barrier to Achieving Humanistic Nirvana in Medical Care, stirred discussion on the blog. In his post, he theorized what would happen to the cost of haircuts if the salon industry looked more like the health care marketplace where “consumers no longer maintain their important role of paying customer.”
The essay reveals two of his guiding interests: an affinity for technology and a business-mindset.
A self-described “entrepreneur turned medical student,” Istrail teamed up with three others in 2009 to create PhotoCalorie. The web-based photographic food journal and iPhone app was designed to give dietary researchers an improvement on the field’s traditional data collection. Rather than relying on study participants’ recollections and estimations of food intake, PhotoCalorie offers researchers a virtual window into the actual eating behaviors of their study subjects.
More recently, Istrail founded his second company, the Ancestral Weight Loss Registry (AWLR). The website invites people who’ve chosen a carbohydrate-restricted or paleo diet to fill out a questionnaire and tell their personal stories. After 15 months, over 3,000 people have registered – representing all 50 states and more than 50 countries – have registered for Istrail’s crowd-sourced effort to understand successful weight loss. He hopes this data, too, will provide scientists better information on diets that he feels are under-represented in the current research databases.