It also struck me that the current explosion of investment in healthcare tech startups is going to run into a buzzsaw at some point, because the savviest CEOs know that stitching together best-of-breed tech solutions must give way to integrated, interoperable systems. The continued success of "big box" EMR suites this year points the way. But as one CEO said, "Epic is successful not because it's so good, but because the others are so bad."
With that, here's my top 10 list of takeaways from HealthTech Conference 2012:
- The tsunami of change. "The mandate is, we bring these large, diverse, disparate organizations together very quickly, urgently, to try to have single-minded purpose in trying to improve community health," says Tomi Ryba, president and CEO of El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, CA. "And to do that urgently, we are bringing totally different cultures together, and government structures together, and then to be able to quickly achieve the triple aim by making sure that we keep our eye on quality, service, and affordability all at the same time. It's like a tsunami of change."
- AICUs are coming. Meet the ambulatory intensive care unit, or AICU. "This is a complex-care medical home," says Amir Dan Rubin, president and CEO of Stanford Hospital and Clinics at Stanford University. "I call it concierge care for sick people." Rubin says Stanford intends to "spend more time and effort with people who we think we could prevent downstream complications from happening. So there we have leveraged our electronic data warehouse and we're tracking data over time across the continuum. That might be diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure, [and] emergency visits." But AICUs introduce interesting, unanswered questions. "Does this population want a Fitbit? Do they want to be monitored? Some maybe, some maybe not. If it's your grandma, what should you attach to her? Maybe it's a phone call. Maybe it's an office visit. Maybe it's a health coach. I think there's a lot to be learned there. At some level, that field is in its infancy."