Sunday, October 10, 2010

Health 2.0 Conference and Innovation

I was just at the Fall Health 2.0 conference last week in San Francisco - it was the biggest (over 1000 people) and the most well-run Health 2.0 conference to date (kudos to Matthew and Indu).   The conference was enjoyable as usual - good networking and stimulating thinking galore.   There were some definitely interesting companies and ideas (more on those in another quote) - but still so many companies that don't yet understand the difference between creating software which allows users to do a task online that they don't really want to do vs. creating solutions which automatically does things you don't want to do.  In other words, we don't need an app that allows users to enter in their daily weight or glucose or med compliance, we need real life solutions which can "sense" each of those things as they happen and then send those to a "cloud" for analysis.   The good news is that we are seeing more of these "connected" devices, such as the Withings Scale, the Gluconix wireless meter, the MIT Mirror that can check your pulse and the Vitality GlowCaps which helps remind you to take your meds... and I hope to see more solutions taking advantage of them in the future.

Tonight, I want to comment on the keynote presentations - some of the best I've EVER seen...I think due to the fact that the two presenters were not just smart, but they were really prepared for their audience. This article from Healthcare IT news was an excellent write-up.  I have added a few of my own comments:

Health 2.0 keynoters differ on health IT innovation
Two keynote speakers at the fourth annual Health 2.0 Conference yesterday – a futurist and the "godfather” of Web 2.0 – disagreed over whether innovation was happening in the healthcare industry.  While Jeff Goldsmith, author, futurist and president of Health Futures, said the industry is experiencing an innovation “drought”, O’Reilly Media founder Tim O’Reilley said innovation is coming from outside of the formal healthcare industry.

Goldsmith attributed the dearth of creativity on “management menopause" – wrong-business-model, risk-averse management that used to be run by scientists and engineers but is now overseen by lawyers and marketing people – and slow decision making. “This doesn’t get you to innovation,” he said. He questioned whether public companies can successfully create new knowledge, saying it was easier for large firms to buy than to grow new intellectual property. The drought is most prominent in the medical imaging, medical device and enterprise clinical IT markets.
(LB:, this is so dead-on accurate!)

“Health IT has degraded clinical care,” he said.  "The industry is suffering from core measure mania, and the solution is to tame the 'documentation monster',” he said.  "Interfaces today are too hard to use and can’t be connected," Goldsmith said. "The health IT community must help people find the information they need effortlessly, accommodate the diversity of people and their lifestyles, and equip families with tools to manage their healthcare. The goal is to get to human connection,” he said.
(LB: Yes, yes, yes...see some of my recent past blogs on Usability.)

At the same time, said O'Reilly, medicine needs to be turned into a science. The data exists, but it just needs to be used effectively to understand the customer.  Analysis is not sufficient, he said. Healthcare needs an information nervous system that reacts in real time. “The power of the real-time enterprise is absolutely critical."

Sensors, data monitoring, collective intelligence and predictive analysis are everywhere. “Healthcare must be a part of that,” O’Reilley said. “We focus our energy on the wrong things,” he added. “We need to work on stuff that matters. We need to work on the hard problems.”
(LB: He gave an example of a recent announcement about work on a potato chip bag that makes less noise - which got a good laugh from the audience, as we know that more money will likely be spent on that than on improving EMR interfaces in the coming year.)

"We know the right treatment in 98 percent of medicine," said O'Reilly. "The two percent is art and we need systems to do the right thing. That’s the end state of IT." 
(LB: in other words, we need to figure out systems that make us consistent with the 98% of medicine we already know and support our data needs for the 2% of medicine that requires more critical thinking - see my past blog of Process over Product Innovation.)

Other resources
* Review of the Healthcamp during HC Innovation Week in SF - including a video from Todd Park about the government's release of health data via the Community health data initiative.  Check out more about this topic at: