Healthcare is a large market, possibly the largest measured as a percent of GDP. But we haven’t seen many large networks of engaged users emerging in healthcare. I believe to kickstart the healthcare innovation, we need a lot more Hackers, Hipsters, and Hustlers to jump in to take the maverick ideas all the way to innovation. We know that consumers need to take more control of their healthcare choices, their healthcare costs, and their health. And we know the web and large networks of engaged users can help all of that happen.
The pandemic has forced health care providers to use mobile apps and software to automate much of the check-in functionality and that is great news. The last two years have brought much needed and long overdue changes to the information collection and management practices of the US healthcare system. We can see the system changing in front of our eyes. And that is very exciting.
Next comes the ability to identify the emerging technologies that can rocket fuel the solutions. There are several emerging technologies that are only partially in the marketplace but hold significant potential for healthcare innovation. These include, among others, artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, robotics, genomics, and nano technology.
If we take AI for example, we can see that more AI startups serve the health and well being sector than any other. Healthcare is a focal point for AI entrepreneurship. It is interesting, and not totally surprising, that the sector that AI-focused entrepreneurs are targeting more than any other is health and wellbeing. It seems like there is so much opportunity to improve our collective health and wellbeing with data science and machine learning. Companies like PredictHealth.AI are examples of applying AI into large problem areas like the needs of the increasingly technologically savvy, and independent, senior population.
As we have seen in other industries, in the coming decades, developers will have as much an impact on the future of healthcare as doctors. The value of doctor-patient relation will stay strong, but I think there is a lot of technology can do to make that relationship less expensive, more engaging and more convenient. And generational changes in doctors and patients are catalyzing and facilitating this transition.
The need to develop strategic economic intelligence, to fully understand the competitive position of the healthcare sector is key to adapting and improving from what helped other sectors innovate. The innovators, the community and the government need to collaborate to develop more effective policies to spur competitiveness. It will need to get much smarter, including areas like privacy. New startups need to lead the unbundling of the existing large, monolithic systems in healthcare towards a more open, local, independent, and transparent model, with control residing with individual users. And ultimately, this could change the way healthcare is delivered to consumers.
Innovation is fundamental for healthcare, and each areas of healthcare will need to develop its own approach to what works. There is more than one way to innovate, and organizations of different ages and sizes will have different reasons for embarking on a process of business innovation. For some it may be a case of re-assessing the ways in which the business generates revenue, for others it may be necessary to move into a different sector altogether – or even to create a brand new one!
A study of founders and early executive teams from successful startups will reveal, that it has mainly three personalities. The Hipster, a Steve Jobs equivalent, who works their way into the mix as the designer or creative genius, they’ll make sure the final product is cooler than anything else out there. The Hacker is the one that answers the all-important question of “how?” the new idea or initiative can be brought into reality, like a Bill Gates. And the Hustler, a Larry Ellison, finds the right way to package it all up and take it to the masses in the form of sales and partnerships, it is a combination that is tough to beat. It’s those kind of dream teams and changes in healthcare that can help us start to see the way forward.
So let me raise a toast to the future of healthcare where innovation, discovery, and success are nurtured, that provides a pipeline of bright minds and new thinking. Let there be more Hackers, Hipsters and Hustlers bringing to production, to the marketplace, and to society new products, processes, services, and functionalities that consumers and businesses find useful and valuable. The kind of innovation that is at the heart of national and global economic prosperity, that dramatically improves the healthcare sector.