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At SXSW, Hipsters Look for Healthcare Tech Tipping Point

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, March 13, 2012

Now, I know it's impossible to reduce all of healthcare to a Facebook or Yelp app. Rating your doctor is not like rating your mechanic. If the patient is being seen for a mental health disorder, how exactly is that supposed to work on a social network?

But in a country where Starbucks spends more money on healthcare than on coffee, and General Motors spends more on healthcare than it does on steel, some sort of tipping point is coming, and technology will play a pivotal role.

Patients are tweeting their conditions, assembling their own social networks without the benefit of doctors or insurers, and payers are seeing their tidy little world explode into a new firmament of small retail clinics and government mandates.

Aneesh Chopra, former CTO of the United States, told a room full of aspiring health tech innovators at SXSW that providers have productive scheduling and billing software, but little else to show patients for all their investment in IT.

Chopra, who left the U.S. CTO position last month to return to The Advisory Board research firm in a senior advisor role, says the "raw material is there. We've seen a doubling of the number of practices who've adopted electronic health records. We're seeing incentives change now, with the Affordable Care Act [with] hospitals paid for value, and we're seeing an unprecedented opening up of data."

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2 comments on "At SXSW, Hipsters Look for Healthcare Tech Tipping Point"


PJoseph (3/14/2012 at 10:54 AM)
Hey, Tom Noland and Shankar Ram of Humana. If Humana is serious about really helping customers, why did you send me, a long-time Humana customer, a paper calendar with pretty pictures on it? Is that an idea from your innovation center? How does that help me be healthier? How does that reduce healthcare costs? Is sending me a calendar the best way to spend your 20%? I don't think so. For your innovation center, hire people from Zappo's and Netflix, not healthcare, who really know how to motivate me to change my behavior, reward me for doing what's best, and make me feel good about it. Align your SXSW speeches with action, please. Change to healthcare delivery cannot happen without bringing in successful people from OUTSIDE healthcare.

Doug Naegele (3/14/2012 at 9:37 AM)
The line "Smartphones are no panacea..." is a great one, in that it acknowledges that not all patients are healthy, upper-income iPhone users. SmokefreeTXT, a product Infield Health built for the National Cancer Institute, works on SMS specifically to reach a non-smartphone market: teens. Let's remember that the very people who need health advice are sometimes not carrying shiny iPhone 4S's. Doug Naegele Infield Health