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News and Events: Life Science Innovation Northwest [Panels- Recap HIT 2.0]
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June 19-20, 2014
Washington State
Convention Center
Seattle, WA

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Presenting at Life Science Innovation Northwest

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Healthcare 2.0:  Yesterday’s Science Fiction, Today’s and Tomorrow’s Medicine (July 10, 2013)

Recap (1) by Amy Snow Landa, Healthcare Communications

The “Healthcare 2.0” panel discussion was moderated by Rob Arnold, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of Washington Center for Commercialization and the former President and CEO of Geospiza, Inc.

Panel Members:

Arnold began by asking the panel to predict the future of Health 2.0, particularly its impact on consumers. Panelists responded that Health 2.0 is:

  • Accelerating innovation within health care organizations
  • Enabling entrepreneurs to use data to be more predictive and drive those insights to consumers
  • Giving consumers real-time access to their health information (e.g., test results from labs)

When Arnold asked panelists if they think Health 2.0 is going to incorporate wellness, panelists offered a variety of observations, including:

  • New technologies offer significant opportunities to keep consumers engaged and motivated
  • However,  providers are not likely to focus on wellness unless there are payment incentives

Arnold next asked panelists to describe their own investments and the investment trends they are seeing. Gandhi noted that he is seeing a lot of investment in companies that are trying to improve Electronic Health Records, particularly in terms of workflow and physician satisfaction. Reardon said his fund invests in technologies that improve access to care, while Savage said his company helps organizations use insights from technology to manage risk. Taranto said his fund invests in areas that include patient technology, personalized medicine and “technology in care,” which includes things like remote monitoring.

According to O’Keefe, Group Health is investing in technologies to help with analytics, especially in targeting the five-to-ten percent of patients who are driving 60 to 70 percent of the costs. When asked who they think will pay for the new technologies, O’Keefe emphasized that Group Health needs to see a clear return on investment, which she said can be a “tricky challenge.” Savage observed that before organizations invest in a new technology, they need to be convinced that it will not only reduce costs, but also improve quality.

Arnold asked panelists about the extent to which they think consumers are willing to pay more for new technologies. Gandhi said he believes consumers are willing to pay for “new things” in healthcare, particularly if it means they’ll have a better experience. “I think they’ll pay for something they like,” he said. “They just don’t see anything they like right now.” However, O’Keefe observed that the cost of healthcare is already unaffordable. “I think we have a responsibility not to drive more costs into the healthcare system,” she said.  The goal should be to find ways to use technology to improve the consumer’s experience while also driving down costs and improving quality.

Arnold then asked the panel to offer some predictions about key changes in healthcare they think are likely to occur during the next 36 months. O’Keefe predicted there will be a wave of retirements among clinicians, which will exacerbate the workforce crisis and make it more difficult to drive changes in healthcare. Savage said he is concerned that a lot of organizations will take on too much risk and fail as a result. “I’m seeing a wave of over-aggressiveness,” he said. Reardon was more optimistic. He said that from the perspective of entrepreneurs and investors, the changes that are underway offer “unbelievable opportunity” to create new systems. Gandhi noted that failure is essential to innovation. If hospitals and other organizations that are taking risks don’t fail, he said, it probably means they’re not pushing hard enough. In other words, said Arnold, if you’re not crashing occasionally, you’re not racing.

During the Q & A session following the panel, several audience members expressed skepticism about the ability of healthcare organizations and individuals to change and adapt. Panelists responded that healthcare organizations are generally quite limited in their ability to innovate or collaborate. As for consumers, O’Keefe noted that about two-thirds of Group Health members access their medical records online. Yet in the rush to digitize, she said, it should be recognized that not everyone is prepared to use these new technologies.

In conclusion, Arnold summarized the gist of the discussion as “Big Challenges Ahead. Innovators Wanted.”

Recap (2) by Eleni Adams, Substantial Inc.

Rob Arnold of the University of Washington C4C moderated a diverse panel discussion that brought to light some of the challenges facing an evolving healthcare system and offered valuable insight into the myriad of opportunities for innovation.

The panel opened with an overview of what Health 2.0 will mean for consumers.  Health 2.0 represents a shift from academic practice to localized, rapid innovation; the panel unilaterally highlighted a need for new means of data access that will empower consumers to make informed decisions about their own care.

Gwen O’Keefe, Chief Health Information Officer for Group Health, stressed that patients should have access to the same data as their physicians in a usable and readily understandable format. “Technology itself doesn’t change an outcome,” emphasized Ms. O’Keefe. “It’s how you use it.”  Malay Gandhi of Rock Health observed that while progress has been made with the advent of technologies like EMR, the user experience is still poor and the adoption rate is low. Calling out existing healthcare technologies as “beat up” and “antiquated,” Gandhi emphasized that the industry is “begging for new technology.” However, technology in principle is one thing, but technology in practice is a daunting hurdle. Mike Smyly of Inland Northwest Health Services noted that in most clinical settings, computers serve primarily as data storage devices, not interactive tools capable of assisting physicians with decision-making and patient care. O’Keefe feels that the changes brought on by healthcare reform are overwhelming for clinicians and that “the medical profession is very much struggling.” Most physicians are merely trying to keep up with caring for patients, let alone adapting to new mandates and technologies.

Arnold then asked the panel what Health 2.0 means for entrepreneurs. Not surprisingly, the panel advised startups looking to get into the healthcare game to create solutions that will lead to a direct and measurable reduction in associated healthcare costs.

As the discussion steered towards investment trends, John Reardon of Trident Capital highlighted an interest in companies that drive efficiency, improve workflow for clinicians and address consumer access to care. The US healthcare sector is anticipating a flood of new patients but as Reardon pointed out, demand is expected to grow while supply remains static. One approach to this problem is creating new ways for patients to manage their own care. According to Gandhi, while tech investors dumped $70 million into wellness funding in the last year, “no one is really winning;” no one application or system has made an impact on the market. Mr. Gandhi predicts that market breakthroughs in health and wellness applications will come from outside the health sector- namely from consumer product companies who know how to create engaging user experiences. However, O’Keefe voiced her dissent, saying that burdening patients with additional cost is not a viable solution. Gandhi countered, saying he believes that healthcare consumers are willing to pay for services that ultimately help them manage their health in a way that is easy to use and offers gratifying interaction. Writing from the perspective of Substantial Inc., an organization that does exactly that, this is an interesting concept.

Regardless of the source, the panel was unanimous that technology can offer a myriad of solutions. With the healthcare system in flux, Reardon emphasized that now is a “tremendous time to build the next [big] thing and to innovate.”

 

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