We’re just wrapping up our third annual Connected Health Conference, held in downtown Bellevue, WA. It’s where we get together with a few hundred customers, partners, thought leaders from the industry, policy makers -- and talk about the healthcare industry and the kind of positive change and innovation that’s happening.  I like to think of it as a “Community of Innovators.”

We’re seeing real progress.  At last year’s conference, much of what we talked about was still at the 'implementation' stages -- customers were deploying, beginning to use and see value from our products.  I won’t go so far as to echo what our conference moderator, Ian Morrison, said -- that the only place where a new vision for the industry seems to be alive is in PowerPoint -- but 2009 was an earlier stage of the business . Today, our vision about ‘liberating data’ and creating a ‘connected’ health system with patients at the center is becoming a reality, as demonstrated by the work our customers are doing with Amalga and HealthVault.

During the conference, we heard about the work taking place at  Seattle Children’s Hospital, Golden Living, Medstar Health, Virtua and elsewhere. They are re-engineering workflows, engaging with patients differently, empowering healthcare workers to be more effective, using and re-using data to drive better decision-making.  These folks are building ‘learning organizations’ – able to react and adapt – which will help them get more value out of their orgs and more value out of the system as a whole. 

My Wednesday keynote focused on just that – driving a health system based on VALUE versus the system of today, which focuses on VOLUME.  You can see some of the highlights of my talk in the video below.  I shared some perspectives on the system as a whole, on organizations and their path forward to becoming more flexible, empowering, and adaptive and on consumers – and of course included some thoughts on how technology can be a tool at all three levels to help drive positive change and enable innovation.

 

My favorite part of the conference was a panel we had on the topic of driving innovation in health.  The panelists included Todd Park,  CTO of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services , David Brailer,  Chairman of Health Evolution Partners, and Rod Hochman, CEO of Swedish Medical Center.  These folks are all innovators in different ways, and we had a very insightful and lively discussion.

Some of the more interesting thoughts:

  • Actions to improve the system – Drive variability out of healthcare delivery, Get back to ‘community rating', Have the government create incentives and remove dis-incentives, Separate employment from insurance
  • How to remove the barriers to innovation: focus on incentives (paying for VALUE not VOLUME) and information (data liberation).
  • Driving demand-side ‘consolidation’ – Folks talked about how supply-side innovation and change are clearly happening, but what’s really needed to drive systemic change, including motivating and catalyzing politicians, is a different kind of aggregation on the demand side.  Historically, patient populations have coalesced around diseases and disease states, but there’s a need to aggregate differently – by age, sex, etc. – to really understand and communicate patient needs and wants. 

You can see more panel highlights in the video below:

 

We also had the opportunity to ‘zoom out’ and take a broader look  at how the field of computer science is advancing.  Microsoft’s Chief Research and Strategy Officer, Craig Mundie, shared some perspectives on how powerful client machines and the cloud, combined with a revolution in the ways people interact with computers, will define a new era of computing.  He demonstrated the kind of future that’s possible – you can see it in the video below.

I left the conference feeling very energized, excited and inspired!  While sometimes it feels like we are pushing a rock uphill, I believe we’re on the right path.  This ‘Community of Innovators’ will be catalysts for change.