The first day of the World Healthcare Innovation and Technology Congress provided abundant information and gave a glimmer of hope to those of us trying desperately to improve healthcare through the infusion of IT.
I arrived at the conference after the opening keynote address and and entered the conference during a presentation called: How the Current Economic Challenges are Changing the Future of Innovation Investment. Understanding where the business opportunities are in healthcare and specifically where venture capitalists are seeing opportunities, is a telling case as to where things will be heading in our industry.
The first question, is there still VC money out there was answered with a qualified yes; there is money, but it is more discerning in the selection process. What was interesting to me was the amount of individual investments seems to be increasing. If you have a good concept and business model, you will not only be funded, but will likely find more funding then prior efforts. Part of the higher awards may be a by-product of the recommendation for “more realistic” timelines in business models.
Other learning from the presentation, treatment will continue to dominate attention over prevention because the aging population, blockbuster drugs are still out there and even incremental improvements can create tremendous opportunities in drugs, personalized drugs will grown in importance, and 1/3 of all prescriptions are not fulfilled and many patients do not follow the regiment prescribed.
Next, I went to a panel presentation called: Moving Connectivity Across the Healthcare Spectrum: Contemporary Approaches to Collaboration Management and Web 2.0 Technologies
One theme: In social networking, the individual is seen as a node and the tools are designed to connect nodes together. This makes sense, but lacks the personal feeling that is the true driver in social networking, but it helps from an IT perspective. I believe it is that individual’s need to connect is what drives nodes to other nodes. It was also suggested that social networking can be used in medical education to allow students to “experience” health events by following patients who are using social networking to cope with their care. Interesting….
The key message here was, patients are feeling increasingly empowered to access their patient information and the greater liability may come from those who are NOT embracing these technologies. Sharing medical information with patients is no longer an option, but a requirement.
Next was the highlight of Day 1: Newt Gingrich. Newt is a politician and politicians, the good ones, always seem to give excellent presentations. Newt is a good politician.
- I worked very hard to defeat John Kerry because he was left of Kennedy and I was afraid he would nationalize the banks
- The Bush stimulus package is just dumb. It’s like giving a teenager amphetamines so they could get even crazier before they crash
- It will be virtually impossible for Obama to make health a real priority. It will take 6-9 months just to sort through the wreckage.
- We are in a great time of discontinuity in world. It is not a time of marginal change
You get the idea. Bottom line, we are in a mess, but things are moving forward. Expecting fundamental and instantaneous change is not realistic and will likely cause more problems then solutions.
The final presentation was from the iRobot company showing how in-house robots could be used to reestablish physician house calls with a 21st century twist. Your doctor is giving you an examination via robotics, video, audio, and health monitoring tools. Interesting, but a bit creepy. The best quote from the presenter when displaying an elderly woman smiling at a robot in her home, “Some people find this image disturbing.” The times they are a-changing.
The evening reception proved to be very interesting as well. As fate would have it, a physician from University of Oklahoma sat at my table and we struck-up a conversation. Being both an employee and a fan of the University of Texas, I opened with 45-35. For those of you who don’t know, OU is in the national championship even though UT defeated them. I guess this is another example of how IT can make a mess of things.
Once we moved on, we had a very interesting discussion about the challenges facing both our institutions and in the end, I think we are going to work together to help them start working on their own physician portal. Funny how things work out.
At the end of the first day, I was very glad I came to the conference. To find time to think, I decided to do what must be done in DC; I went to talk to Abe. Even without the cold temperature, I always get goose bumps.