Coming out of the HIMSS 2017 healthcare IT event in Orlando last week, it is a good time for reflection and to assess areas of focus. Only time will tell if we are at the cusp of a Perfect Storm in healthcare innovation. Here are some soundbites that caught my attention: "increase clinician-patient engagement one minute at a time", "increase joy in clinician days to address surging burnout", "cognitive healthcare era", "augment not replace human intelligence", "most everything patients do is cogent to their self image", "designing for emotional connection not just physical needs", "need dedicated, extensible and agnostic data tier outside EHR", "motivation is desire with velocity" and "health is social".
Many key factors are in play that could fuel dramatic change within the industry. We now have access to a wealth of available Technologies in the form of platforms, open source / licensed tools, frameworks, open APIs, growing interoperability, and consumerization has brought modern web, cloud, mobile and device innovation to healthcare.
People have accepted that Digital Health innovation is a key pathway to driving lower costs, improving outcomes, quantifying and realizing value based care models, and increasing patient / clinician engagement. As such, Investments are more fluidly being made in Digital Health including with Providers, medical device manufacturers, pharma and other segments of the industry. This is further supported by the strong venture capital/PE, angel and seed startup community, as well as a wealth of startup incubators.
At the heart of this new wave of Digital Health innovation is both incremental and dramatic New User Experiences all along the healthcare value chain. New technologies definitely help here, but the big gains come from a streamlined understanding and expression of patient, clinician and other care team member interaction with each other, systems, devices and every meaningful thing at our fingertips from the Internet. An army of UX / UI designers are being employed in this newer generation of products leveraging lean innovation and design thinking concepts vs. the historical ways of bottoms up engineering rollouts or waterfall product development that handicaps many legacy products and systems that fall short on many fronts. With lean innovation comes more experimentation and customer validation to ensure success and participation is high on new offerings. This is key, since Outcomes = Participation * Efficacy.
Walking the show floor and attending many of the educational session, there clearly is an abundance of smart and motivated People to drive change if they are empowered within their organization or nimble and sufficiently funded to seize a wide range of external opportunities. There is also no shortage of new healthcare incubators and accelerators that is drawing in young talent with inspiring passions to help improve the world.
It is in this last point where I see people supported by their company as Healthcare Market Makers emerging more over the next couple of years. While there is indeed uncertainty with the newly elected administration in the US (ACA and new policy), regulatory bodies, Payor environment and growing cybersecurity concerns, these all represent changes and opportunities for entry of new solutions. Yes, many large organizations will be slow and resistant to move, but it is these market makers that will define, develop and deploy new innovation starting in small ways that will begin to bear fruit. Others will pay notice and look to replicate, especially with a similar technology and UX underpinning. Market makers (whether it is new tech firms, large incumbents that shift more to play offense, Provider organizations, etc) will 'poster child' their successes for broader realizations. There were some good examples at HIMSS of successes, but more need to be showcased beyond a pilot stage. Additionally these early adopters can't stop where a finite project ends. They must replicate their initial implementations on great scale and impact. An ideal leader in such a market maker company likely has a real strong set of business development and technology innovation skills. Let's stay positive on driving change with what is now before us and think of ways we can become healthcare market makers.
Check out this hazmat setup below that Samsung sent me to send my original Note7 back. I know most consumers have returned devices to their local wireless retailer. But for folks like me or online purchases through Samsung, I wonder how many consumers will follow these instructions. It also makes me wonder why more products with Lithium Ion batteries do not come with such special handling. It was not like the Note7 is going to be powered on and charging while in the box back to Samsung. I suspect this return packaging (including special outer fire-retardant box, within a box, within a box, rubber gloves, etc.) cost them some serious coinage and took as long to design / procure as the fix to the Note7 battery.
Mobile Integrity recently launched an exciting new partnership with the team at Brandwidth Global to focus on enabling deeper connected healthcare experiences for users across the value chain. We have come together as Healthy Context, LLC.
With today's lower barriers to entry with many new enabling technologies and rapid innovation cycles, how does one differentiate a new product or service offering? Well, your competitors are likely reading the same research reports, getting similar feedback from customers on pains/gains, conforming to the same regulatory/compliance requirements, reviewing industry best practices for design, and trying to use as much "out of the box" capabilities when deploying new platforms.
Within the Digital Health realm, successful new offerings must address user adoption, retention and efficacy. User experience is key to all three. Two functionally equivalent offerings can yield very different experiences for patients and clinicians. Most marketers do not have the skill to fully capture and understand user needs that may be layered deep within innate human behavior. Getting users Hooked on your new product/service may require this deeper level of user understanding. Ensuring a meaningful Connected Health experience surrounding a new therapy, chronic disease management program or new model of care delivery will likely require more radical vs. incremental innovation.
Probing deep into user behavior requires different skill sets from varying social sciences. Once these deeper human insights are uncovered, they are instrumental to help prioritize product and service roadmaps. Too often we are over-engineering solutions and must make hard choices for the right feature set to drive the user experience. Thus the growth in the concept of an MVP (minimum viable product). User experience design can be very opinionated. Bringing patients into a staged "cleanroom" setting to observe and define needs may miss key user actions and conversations within their native environments. Harnessing cognitive science, behavioral psychology, cultural understandings and linguistics can uncover unique user needs with science based rationale to drive experiences and innovation roadmaps.
Healthy Context fuses together the deep human interpretation expertise of Brandwidth Global and the Connected Health technology innovation practice at Mobile Integrity. Over the years, Brandwidth Global has been breaking new ground uncovering game-changing user insights that has fueled a range of new successes within the pharmaceutical industry. Mobile Integrity has been at the forefront of helping define and launch new Connected Health innovation for medical device manufacturers and healthcare providers. Collectively, we now have the capability to raise the bar on expectations for new Digital Health offerings, adoption models and harvest the many benefits of deeply engaging experiences on the pathway towards chronic disease management and rehabilitation.
Stay tuned for more info coming on Healthy Context!
I believe there were several motives that propelled Google to pull the trigger this past week on acquiring RCS player Jibe. This is part of their multi-pronged attack on the consumer need for communications and interactivity. Having worked at Verizon Wireless to help define their Rich Communications strategy and service realization back in 2010, there are a range of drivers that come to mind that I note below.
As with many mobile carrier efforts, the GSMA's Rich Communications Suite (RCS) has been plagued by slow adoption and weak execution. Even after watering down the original (more feature rich) version of RCS, carriers struggle with embracing and driving consumer adoption for the suite of new enhanced messaging services enabled by RCS. Google has had its hand in driving adoption of WebRTC however on the desktop browser front. Some of this carrier challenge with RCS is due to their DNA being primarily a mover of bits and wireless infrastructure engineering expertise, but also due to their loss of control of the handset. Today, there is very, very little Verizon, AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile content or customization on your latest smartphone here in the US. There is even less carrier content that actually gets used or adds value to the consumer. Voice over LTE (VoLTE) is going to happen and that is the last opportunity for carriers to layer in some value-add around their investment in IMS technology with integral voice, video chat, rich messaging, voicemail transcription, multi-ring mobile / landline, and presence indicators. Enterprise Unified Communications is a different beast. Carriers may not gain from Google's push into RCS here, depending upon Google's ultimate motivations.
Similar to what I am seeing with my efforts in the mHealth / Healthcare IT space with a vast amount of wearables devices, mobile / IoT platforms and the array of clinical systems / EHRs, this is not a technology problem. It is about integration / compatibility, organizational execution and the right inspired innovation around an overwhelming amount of available technology and platforms.
Here is my view of Google’s drivers behind scooping up Jibe:
Here is a short piece I wrote profiling my educational experience at Northeastern University and their unique focus through the years all around experiential learning. I continue to be reminded of the power of this education I received many years ago. While on the college tour circuit with my son who is a high school senior, I was amazed at how many schools now seem to align around what has been a core foundation for NU. I am not sure many can deliver on such promises across their entire campus, curriculum and programs.
Here is a piece I wrote on my recent NSF I-Corps experience from my work with Northeastern University and their Health Sciences Entrepreneurs program.
It is daunting to realize the NSF made 6,169 early stage investments last year in 2014 that totaled almost $2.5 billion across their SBIR and STTR programs. This represents 59% of seed stage investment vs. 41% venture capital firms. As an onramp to this funding in the university sector is their Innovation Corps Program (I-Corps) that I recently participated in as a mentor with an exciting new mHealth startup being spun out of Northeastern University. The I-Corps 7 week startup bootcamp is a great means to get university folks out of the lab with hands on experiential learning in the real world and develop the business skills needed to navigate to commercial success. The NIH has also embraced and launch their own I-Corps initiative. Here are more stats on the NSF grants last year.
The I-Corps program is fairly new, but has graduated more than 500 teams consisting of an entrepreneurial lead (typically a PhD student), principal investigator (university professor) and a business mentor. I-Corps is being embraced by a growing number of universities across the US. Due to the intensity of this I-Corps startup bootcamp, the NSF has designed a less rigorous version that they are launching as I-Corps Lite, which they seem to be aligning to help impact ventures on a pathway to the more meaningful SBIR Phase II and III grants.
You can read more about I-Corps and a breakdown of the NSF SBIR and STTIR activities from Steve Blank here, who helped start the I-Corps program from his Lean LaunchPad course at Stanford.