Join the discussion on substance vs. style in healthcare innovation

I definitely ruffled a few feathers with my commentary last month in MobiHealthNews about the arrogance of Silicon Valley when it comes to healthcare and health IT. More importantly, I seem to have provoked exactly the kind of discussion I had hoped for, most notably in the Wireless Health group on LinkedIn. (It’s an open group, so please join if you haven’t already).

To date, a link to my story has elicited 53 comments. Some of my favorites:

  • “Whatever the opinion on how Neil chose to wrote the piece he does appear to have started a real conversation. And that my friends is one thing that’s been missing for years. If I had to pick one thing to contribute as someone who’s been at it for over a decade it’s to reiterate there has been a lot of wasted investment due to ego and/or naiveté regardless of where the money or developers come from.”
  • “What gets my hackles up is to see good companies, with proven products/services and customers, with reasonably sound management, struggle and beg for serious money financing to break through, and can’t get it. You and I have been up close and personal on that! VCs want to get in, get out with bucks and are driven by their investors. You cannot count on staying power and confidence there, and that’s not their purpose–but the lines between VC and private equity (the traditional next stage) have become a blur. On the other hand, there has been so much money thrown at half-baked technologies, or mismanaged by companies themselves, it gets me ill. It is all just slightly unhinged from reality–and why the heck we’re pursuing this in the first place.”
  • “What’s ‘sexy’ are apps that use the iPhone (or other smart phone). Not sure that any of these apps, by themselves, will create the market “buzz” that get’s investors excited. The next Groupon or Zillow….
    “Washington can write guidelines and set policies, even implement laws, but the problem is fundamental: Physicians need reasons (incentives and proof of efficacy) to recommend and use apps. A big part of this is basic…we need to focus on meeting the needs of the healthcare consumer. “
  • “The issue is not whether Silicon Valley gets it, but whether technology alone will solve the problem. I think we all agree that it won’t, so we need collaboration between technologists and healthcare professionals, and the patient (or consumer if you are younger than me) to solve the problem.
    “Neil’s willingness to demonstrate that the Technology Emperor really isn’t wearing any clothes is critical for us to start having the real discussion of how the three groups collaborate to form a solution
  • “Having followed in the industry and VC community for decades the problem is that not every problem can be solved in isolated for-profit islands and silos.
    “We can’t even do something so trivial as share calendar information as a way to manage medical appointments. This may sound silly but when the idea of keeping a checklist is seen as a big idea with major impact the idea that we can save the world by cashing in on a trend is problematic.”
  • “he evidence suggests that doctors understand healthcare in terms of delivering poor outcomes at a price that’s killing our economy, which is the real determinant of health – every dollar that the healthcare system takes out of someone’s wages or cost structure is a dollar not spent buying decent food or givng someone a job or a raise that can raise their overall well-being.
    “The existing system arguably can’t be fixed – if we knew how to do that, we already would have. (That may risk making as the same kind of fact-free assertion as the one about the centraility of the doctor-patient relationship, but what the hey.) My personal opinion – and it’s only an opinion – is that we’re going to build a new one in its place. What we in Silicon Valley do understand is how to disrupt.
    “My point is that growing a new health system (notice I didn’t say healthcare) rquires partnership between clinicians, patients, families, payers, policy makers – and technologists in Silicon Valley who can enable this new and better system. My dad was trained as a cardiovascular surgeon, who are widely known (again I don’t have data to support this) as having delusions of god-hood). Of course, we in Silicon Valley collectively might have our own delusions of god-hood. That said, to get us as a society somewhere, would suggest you re-examine yours.”
  • “Much of what is labeled “innovation” is simply something that is ‘cool.’ Real innovation is as much about commercialization as it is about the invention. Marketing beats technology. My sense is that VC’s see a lot of cool inventions, but are looking for the discipline it takes to effectively commercialize an idea. This is particularly challenging in healthcare because there are so any stakeholders that influence the consumer/patient’s decisions. And our priorities and behavior change radically as I move from consumer to patient.

I invite you to join in the discussion.