Partnering Patients and Providers for Healthcare Technology Innovation

October 14, 2012
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With the conclusion of the first vice presidential debate, the Los Angeles Times noted that discussions regarding healthcare turned prickly and personal.  Such heated rancor suggests that healthcare should become much more personal in the near future.  And speaking of making healthcare personal, the fall Health 2.0 conference commenced this week, debuting and highlighting new technology designed to improve cost transparency, patient engagement and provider workflow.  Having introduced more than 500 companies since its inception in 2007

With the conclusion of the first vice presidential debate, the Los Angeles Times noted that discussions regarding healthcare turned prickly and personal.  Such heated rancor suggests that healthcare should become much more personal in the near future.  And speaking of making healthcare personal, the fall Health 2.0 conference commenced this week, debuting and highlighting new technology designed to improve cost transparency, patient engagement and provider workflow.  Having introduced more than 500 companies since its inception in 2007, Health 2.0 co-founders Indu Subaiya and Mathew Holt have helped to galvanize the revolution in healthcare delivery. Sufficiently impressed by several presentations, I will be watching a number of companies; however, my inner skeptic also wonders how many of these start-ups will successfully transcend the o-gap (operationalization), a term coined by Boston Children’s Hospital Chief Innovation Officer, Naomi Fried?

And by ‘operationalization’, I am referring to igniting both the attention and utilization of providers and patients alike.  Building on CryerHealth CEO, Donna Cryer’s definition, “patient engagement in action looks like shared responsibility between patients (and their families if applicable), health care practitioners (the entire team: surgeons, physicians, nurses) and healthcare administrators (providers of the infrastructure and payment models) to co-develop pathways to optimal individual, community and population health.  In order to succeed at this task, Paul Cerrato points out that tech tools alone, are not a magic bullet for patient engagement. Rather, an engaged, consumer driven provider, must also be part of the successful equation.  So, the better question becomes, what steps can be taken to foster this symbiotic relationship?

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With a plethora of healthcare IT on the forefront, Rock Health, the first seed accelerator for digital health start-ups, has identified an immediate need for healthcare providers to partner with start-ups in order to verify clinical product efficacy and validity. Given President Obama’s recent legislation calling on HHS to report to Congress on an “appropriate, risk-based regulatory framework pertaining to health information technology, including mobile medical applications” and Rock Health’s interest in developing a formal collaboration process similar to the biotech industry’s clinical trial practice, it would be forward thinking to see academic, as well as, other healthcare providers with an Institutional Review Board (IRB) presence, engage in this activity.  Witnessing the extraordinary outcomes achieved by interdisciplinary teams of researchers, technology experts, clinicians and patients participating in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Project Health Design engagement for development of tools to be used by real people to improve their health, better engage in their care, and enhance communication with their providers, why can’t we accelerate this innovation two or three-fold?