The Driving Force in Healthcare Innovation Today October 8, 2012 by LeAnna J. Carey

Do you know how to read the signals of change? In my recent interview with Dr. Indu Sabaiya, she could have said that the most significant driving force in healthcare innovation today is a result of consumers becoming more interested in their own health, the explosion of sensors and devices, or even technological possibilities – but, she did not. Instead, she went to the to the core of the matter and said that the single most important driving force is that the current healthcare system is not sustainable and that, “healthcare for the most part is still a source of frustration and heavy financial burden for the average person, and that force is causing healthcare stakeholders to innovate, change and improve.”  That’s a true innovator talking – opting out of the buzz.


I had the great privilege of interviewing the highly respected innovators and founders of Health2.0 this week, Matthew Holt and Dr. Sabaiya, who have taken their business from an idea to the global arena.  If you are wondering if this is your time to innovate, take a few minutes to listen to their deep experience on how to listen for signals of change.


While there are some CEO’s who have been successful at reinventing and innovating, like Aetna’s Mark Bertolini, Holt admits that it is not easy to spot the signals of change.  This is true especially for larger companies because once they identify a market tipping point, making the jump from a declining business model to one that is on the incline is difficult.  He pointed to the importance of looking for signal events like companies coming to the market with different offerings, legislative mandates like ACO’s, companies buying products in different ways.  Holt added that the most difficult element of growth is discerning if the market is moving beyond those early adopters into a real tipping point, then ask, “How is it different this time?”


Dr. Sabaiya agreed by sharing that Health2.0 is observing three different behaviors from both inside and outside of their innovation network:

1. Notable activity in buying innovation and acquisitions; she used Aetna’s recent acquisition of Healthagen, to leverage iTriage for its ACO offering as a key component for consumer engagement, as an example.

2. Interest in partnering strategies with ahead of the curve mobile app companies to accelerate growth.  In fact, Health2.0 holds matchmaking forums to provide larger organizations and retailers to explore the startup ecosystem, before making a decision to build internally.

3. The use of prize money to find the best and brightest developers to build a solution that does not exist yet; the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Kaiser Permanente and AT&T are successful users of crowdsourcing.


Both of the founders agree that the most disruptive and exploding innovations (whether devices, sensors or trackers) are those that capture some aspect of a consumers health that is computable and integrates with the healthcare system in usable ways.  Matthew emphasized that healthcare innovation does not have to be “hugely futuristic,” but easier, affordable, and putting it in the right place.  Innovative tools for understanding the best places to receive healthcare, “doctor search, best outcomes, price, quality, and transparency that interface with providers and consumers is a huge growth area to watch.”  At this year’s conference, they will feature a panel specific to this growing interest.


For those needing to develop their innovation network, collaborate on crowdsourcing opportunities, or keep pace with the healthcare segment should use Health2.0 to capitalize on their world view and experience of innovation. The relationship that both Matthew and Dr. Sabaiya have with their community is a competitive differentiator and key to their success, but at the end of day, they are serving an unmet need in healthcare – driving innovation.

Before closing, these founders took the time to mention several companies that will be showcased at this year’s Health2.0 conference.  One company that I’ll give a shout out to as well is Audax Health.  Its CEO is extraordinary and I’m gonna love watching Grant Verstadig do his part in transforming healthcare.


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