Tal Rapke
REIMAGINING HEALTHCARE: FROM DOCTOR ▶️ PHARMACEUTICAL EXECUTIVE ▶️ BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP FOUNDER

PAYING OFF MEDICAL SCHOOL WITH A WELL INVESTED $5,000 BAR MITZVAH GIFT 💰

When Tal was 13 he received a Bar Mitzvah gift of $5,000. He called 20 of the top stock brokering houses in the country and asked them how to invest. He made a neat sum from their advice and was able to put himself through medical school.

I had no idea of what to do with this money. But I did know that putting it was not smart to just put in the bank. So putting on the deepest voice I could possibly muster at 13, I called the stock brokering companies. Even though some sent me official written stock advice, my then-crackly voice must have been obvious to the rest of them as they told me “Listen son, why don’t we give you some phone advice.” I tallied their tips, and the winning stock tips put me through medical school. It made me realise that if you are curious and ask people for advice when you don’t know what to do, people are quite willing to share information and advice.


THE LEAP OF FAITH: FROM TWO-AND-A-HALF YEARS AS AN AUSTRALIAN JUNIOR DOCTOR, TO STARTUP LIFE IN THE USA 🏃‍♂️

I do this thing where I pursue a certain path for six or seven years, and then pause to reevaluate whether this path is really in sync with my true beliefs. At one point I was an intern really enjoying my internal medicine rotation: I loved the mental stimulation of it all, and I had a fantastic consultant who had a way with patients and was just inspiring. I remember thinking “Wow, this could be a career!” But when I stood back and looked at the big picture - this was not what I wanted to be doing for the rest of my life.

I was craving adventure and wanted to move away from Australia for a bit. I had always dreamed of New York. I realised that the worst that would happen would be that I’d lose two years of my life, and come back and be hanging out with kids a couple of years younger than me. A lot of us get into that fear of missing out and being left behind.

I got really lucky at landing my first job there. I spoke to hundreds of people before I moved across and I got as many contacts as I possibly could. I ended up getting my first job from calling advertisements in the New York Times - this was in the pre-internet days. I got a callback from one of the advertisements I contacted: it was a crackly call and I actually couldn’t catch the company name at first.”

New York felt like a place full of possibility; full of people who were driving towards personal betterment or achieving the best in their field. It was a fun place to hang out in my late 20s, and was really good for the young and free me.

When I was overseas in America I would see friends buying houses, getting married, making progress in their lives and just be awed. I ended up being overseas for eight years. When I came back I was like “Nothing has changed.” There was no race all along. We’re all just trying to take, enjoy and make the most of the journey of life.


REVOLUTIONISING HEALTHCARE THROUGH CONSUMER-CENTRED ELECTRONIC PRESCRIPTIONS - SCALAMED

My journey through the different healthcare spheres (as a doctor, as a pharmaceutical executive, and in healthcare startups) made me realise that we needed to move towards a more consumer-centred healthcare world. I still get frustrated when I go to see the doctor and I have to sit there and wait. It just seems so outdated that you have a room full of high-income earners sitting there for a doctor to come and give them a prescription.

The consumer’s view is very different from the doctor’s, the company’s or the hospital’s. I think it’s really important to stand in people’s shoes and truly understand the challenges they face. That’s where ScalaMed comes from. It is from truly understanding the pain points of prescription in a system that for the most part sidelines consumers. My personal mission is to make sure that we can create a system that is more intuitive and empowers patients on what can be a very lonely and challenging healthcare journey.

Tal is a Melbourne Medical School graduate who trained at the Alfred, and went on to take on the whole world of healthcare, from digital health and medical education start-ups in the US, to commercialisation and innovation at a multinational pharmaceutical company, to his current role - founder and CEO of his own patient-centric blockchain-based medical startup - ScalaMed.

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