Wizards of Health Technology

In Hospitals and Health Networks Weekly, Healthcare futurist Joe Flower offers a provocative essay on innovation in the health industry in his article Something Wizard this Way Comes.  He explains how new business models and technologies are leading the way toward better, faster, cheaper healthcare.  Most importantly, he explains why much of this innovation is not coming from the usual players in the industry.

I believe Joe is right.  Not only is change being forced by an economic need for better, faster, cheaper healthcare; it is being driven by consumers who are demanding something better.  It is also being driven by a new generation of young professionals who are increasingly impatient with a status quo that doesn’t fit their digital lifestyle.

Someone who personifies this new generation is my colleague, Dr. Jay Parkinson.  Jay is probably best known for his early involvement with a new model for medical practice called Hello Health.  Here’s what Jay told me about what inspired him to invent Hello Health when he appeared as a guest on our monthly, on-line video program, Microsoft Health Tech Today.

Another example of young professionals rocking the boat is illustrated by the founders of ZocDoc.  Frustrated by their own challenges with scheduling a doctor’s visit, these guys came up with a solution that lets consumers find a doctor and schedule their appointments on-line.  The service also offers an opportunity to provide feedback on the perceived quality of your doctor visit; feedback that might be helpful to others.  But perhaps most importantly, the system exposes unused and available capacity in a physician’s schedule, something that will become extremely important as millions more patients try to access care under health reform.  Here is a comment about that from Dr. Oliver Kharraz when he appeared in the most recent installment of Health Tech Today.

But it’s not just the young professionals who are turning the tide.  Sometimes it’s old dogs with new tricks.  One example comes from my friend and colleague Dr. Patricia Gabow, CEO of one of the largest public health systems in the nation, Denver Health.  Dr. Gabow has won accolades for turning her organization around with quality improvement initiatives, many of which came from studying best practices in other industries.  Here’s a comment from Dr. Gabow, who also appeared recently on Health Tech Today.  She explains how a visit to FedEx changed the mindset of one of her recalcitrant physician leaders.

There are plenty of other examples out there, like the patient flow and quality initiatives at Virginia Mason Medical Center (see full interview on Health Tech Today) or innovative ideas on patient home monitoring from companies like MyHalo.  Or, how about the disease management initiatives underway at the Mayo Clinic using Mayo Clinic Health Manager powered by Microsoft HealthVault.  And there is also much to be learned by studying best practices overseas.  One of the truly stellar examples of that was revealed in my recent interview with Curtis Schroeder, CEO of Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand.  Here is a clip from that interview.

You can keep up with many of the breakthroughs and innovations in the health and healthcare industries by becoming a regular viewer of Microsoft Health Tech Today.  We look forward to sharing many more stories as we finish out our first season next month and prepare for a new season of programs next fall.

Bill Crounse, MD  Senior Director, Worldwide Health  Microsoft 

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