Death to Innovators – The Tragedy of Healthcare Innovation

Tragedy (trăj’ĭ-dē) n.

  1. A disastrous event, especially one involving distressing loss or injury to life
  2. A tragic aspect or element.
  3. A drama or literary work in which the main character is brought to ruin or suffers extreme sorrow, especially as a consequence of a tragic flaw, moral weakness, or inability to cope with unfavorable circumstances.

The Advisory Board to the Health 2.0 Conference have been rehashing the recent conference in preparation for the fall program. We are continuing to try to push the boundaries of how to highlight bleeding edge innovations (dessert) and the new tools and technologies (eye-candy), but trying to be disciplined in challenging the community to put up their hard core case studies (nutritious tofo in the words of Esther Dyson) that demonstrate why this movement actually matters. This latter one requires thoughtful discipline, and hard data, from people trying to do very hard things (like obtain accurate personal health data from disparate sources, help consumers understand and optimize health value, and show how these new models of care actually lower cost). We look forward to producing a great program and I will keep you posted on these conversations.

The reason it is so hard to “do the right thing” in health care is that the current environment is a conspiracy of connundrums – no accountabilty, no transparency, rules/regulations, culture, binding contracts, third party payments, behavioral choices, lack of evidence, etc ad nauseaum. A real world example of how this plays out can be seen in the Vicious Cycle of Healthcare Innovation. This article highlights what happens when health care providers “do the right thing” but are rewarded with less money, which then kills off not only their desire but also their capability to do the right thing. Its a beautiful mechanism to ensure that the status quo never changes. This “Death to Innovators” concept has been highlighted by Intermountain Healthcare (pneumonia), Virginia Mason (back pain), and health innovators like Rushika Fernandopulle , MD at Reinnassance Health.

These tragedies have to be overcome. Given the grip of the medico-industrial complex, and their lobbying minions in DC, the only hope I have is that an entirely new system of health can begin to develop and emerge “off the grid” for the current non-consumers of healthcare. From this toehold, and from early and small efforts of the myriad groups seeking to change the financing of healthcare, I am hopeful that innovation can emerge that will align incentives, coordinate care delivery, improve outcomes, and be rewarded appropriately for these results.  That is why I am involved in the various efforts to not only bring innovation to light but also demonstrate that these models can flourish.

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Filed under Conferences, Health 2.0, Innovation

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