Innovation Frontlines: Q&A with Health Wildcatters


Dallas-based Health Wildcatter's CEO, Dr. Hubert Zajicek, talks innovation in the South and impacting mental health issues.

Hubert Zajicek, MD

3 min read

As part of this year's Oliver Wyman Health Innovation Summit, attendees will be touring Health Wildcatters' facilities to learn more about their work to address behavioral health challenges and radically transform care delivery. We conducted this interview to get a firsthand look at how Health Wildcatters offers early-stage portfolio companies and healthcare entrepreneurs in the Dallas area the space, resources, and connections to push care delivery boundaries further. 

Oliver Wyman Health (OWH): As an organization, what is one of the most memorable “impacts” you’ve had on healthcare thus far?

Hubert Zajicek (HZ): In a nutshell, we see impact on a daily basis. It’s an incredible privilege to watch startups meet many of our 150 mentors, and have these seminal pilots, business model changes, or “Aha!” moments that set them on the right path.

We’ve invested in 51 startups and organizations from 23 states and two countries. They’ve raised around $50 million total. Innovators have picked Health Wildcatters, and Texas, because there is significant growth, entrepreneurship, innovation interest, energy, and capital here to propel companies further. It takes a lot more than cash investment to help startups accelerate and succeed – we help them find business models, initial customers, and key interactions needed early on.

Out of the first few classes, we have seen a couple of exits. One exit was to Nike - a company that will help further Nike’s goal of making better fitting shoes to avoid foot ulcers in customers with diabetes.

OWH: What kind of community engagement efforts have you found most impactful, both within Dallas and internationally?

HZ: As one of the top five healthcare incubators in the country, we get a great number of applications and interest from all sides. Even though we’re not publicly funded or have any economic development tie-ins, we have taken on tasks that encourage entrepreneurs in the region (or within a certain manageable reach) to travel to Dallas and take advantage of our resources, like our healthcare innovation-focused co-working space. We also have an outward-facing program open to the community, which allows health innovation leaders to host speaker series around health entrepreneurship. We also run a variety of regional conferences and events, and support various nonprofits and meetup groups that have health innovation at their core, such as Health 2.0 Dallas, Health Technology Forum, and the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs (Dallas Chapter).

OWH: What does Dallas need more of when it comes to behavioral care delivery initiatives?

HZ: I think everyone’s hurting in that space. When you’re looking to service a mental health population, you must be more proactive (as opposed to just paying the emergency room bills). The people paying the bills aren’t the same people who can impact early stages of care – and that’s true nationwide, not just in Dallas. Innovators are now recognizing this in our region, and are working to get people into better shape (and living happier lives) before they ever enter a costly emergency room setting,

OWH: How does your work extend beyond the healthcare space to affect other industries?

HZ: Healthcare is divided between “healthcare” and “sick care.” Currently, we have more “sick care” tied to health professionals. But this is changing to shift toward prevention, early detection, and at-home healthcare, in addition to various other amalgamations of healthcare in normal life, such as fitness counters or technology that allows you to draw ongoing conclusions about your health maintenance.

As we progress towards “healthcare” (and away from sick care), we will see care become a normal process we need to maintain and optimize, rather than just be about communicating with a doctor. Patients will be monitored and diagnosed along the way in their daily lives. It’s going to be acknowledged that health optimization is not a luxury, but something that good organizations want to optimize to enhance workforces and support employees. As opposed to as a bolt-down benefit, healthcare is going to become the “super food” of those creative and top companies where employee health and wellness unlocks success. By creating and enabling the technologies that will allow health optimization in employees’ daily lives, our innovators naturally extend their impact to industries and employers outside the boundaries of what we traditionally consider “healthcare.”

  • Hubert Zajicek, MD