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Finding the Common Thread in Healthcare Innovation: Part 1

Written by Andrew Le, MD

PublishedDecember 6, 2021

Welcome to the CEO Corner, where Buoy CEO and Cofounder Andrew Le, MD, sits down with industry leaders to chat about the provocative topics of healthcare today. Andrew recently spoke with Michael Krigsman, publisher of CXOTalk, which brings together top business leaders for in-depth conversations about leadership, innovation and digital disruption. They discuss how to define innovation in healthcare and Michael’s predictions for the future of digital transformation.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Andrew Le, MD: Thanks for joining us, Michael. Can you tell us about yourself and how you founded CXOTalk?

Michael Krigsman: Sure. CXOTalk is an executive conversation platform where we interview business leaders who are shaping our world. Several years ago, I was an advisory consultant to many of the larger, most well-known enterprise software companies, including Microsoft and SAP, among others.

At the time, I thought, “This video thing is happening, and I'm meeting all these amazing people through my work. No one is doing a live enterprise conversation on video. Why don't I try doing that?” And the funny thing is, I thought, “Maybe the horse has left the barn, and it's too late to do this. But we'll try it anyway because it seems like fun.”

Fast forward several years, and I gave up consulting to focus on CXOTalk. It was a labor of love from the beginning.

CXOTalk offers a variety of conversations with top innovators at https://www.cxotalk.com/find.

Andrew: That's the best kind of labor. I'm assuming it doesn't feel like you're working—it feels like you're doing what you're passionate about.

Michael: Well, I don't know about that. It feels like I'm working really, really hard, but I enjoy it. So, we can make that distinction. I work hard to get the caliber of guests we have on CXOTalk and the quality and cadence that we have through the number of videos and conversations we're releasing. It's a tremendous amount of hard work, but I feel extremely fortunate and grateful to be doing what I do.

Andrew: That's amazing. You interview a lot of leaders. Are there common threads among companies that succeed or fail from a digital transformation perspective?

Michael: I'm pitched constantly by people who want to be a guest on CXOTalk. I select the ones I think are the most interesting, who have lessons to teach us. The common thread I look for is people who are innovating.

We can break technology up into two uses: increasing efficiency, which is to say, making things less expensive. In some cases, its making things faster, getting things done while reducing the cost and resources associated with that. Efficiency is extremely important for any business.

Number two is innovation—doing something new. It's not just a matter of reducing the cost; it's improving the process, outcomes and results.

The folks I'm talking with are focused on innovation. That's not to say they're ignoring or even weaker on efficiency. But if you’re focusing only on reducing cost, that implies a steady state in the quality of outputs you're creating.

For me, the common thread is a drive for innovation while being efficient. And that's a real distinction.

"For me, the common thread is a drive for innovation while being efficient. And that's a real distinction."

Michael Krigsman, publisher of CXOTalk

Andrew: I see what you're saying. Our audience is very healthcare focused. We constantly hear that healthcare is inefficient and expensive. The outcomes are largely stagnant and/or worsening, even though we're pouring money into innovation. How would you advise healthcare and startup leaders on being successful in digital transformation?

Michael: What makes healthcare different from other industries is the complexity of the ecosystem. You have patients, providers, payers, pharma companies, government and others in the mix. You have so many misaligned incentives.

You need to look at each role and participant in the healthcare ecosystem to figure out where you have room for innovation and where to primarily focus on reducing cost efficiency. It's going to be different, based on where you sit.

For example, one of the most interesting aspects of the future of healthcare is the use of machine learning and data and algorithms to predict disease and develop new drugs. If you're in that business, innovation comes from the quality of your data—being able to match the results to real-world outcomes with the results of your research.

If you can do that, you'll drive tremendous outcomes. You'll also drive efficiency. If you can shorten the diagnostic or treatment process, you'll save a lot of money while providing better patient outcomes.

It really depends on where you are. If you're inside a hospital or large practice, innovation often boils down to figuring out ways to be more efficient. So you need to focus your innovation on efficiency. So, I think healthcare is really hard.

You need to look at each role and participant in the healthcare ecosystem to figure out where you have room for innovation, and where you primarily focus on reducing cost efficiency.

"You need to look at each role and participant in the healthcare ecosystem to figure out where you have room for innovation..."

Michael Krigsman, publisher of CXOTalk

Andrew: I have no disagreement there.

For sure. Healthcare is extremely complex. I hear what you’re saying—that depending on where you are in the ecosystem, focusing on efficiency or innovation may or may not be the right answer.

Now, I’m curious. Of all the experts you've interviewed, has anyone blown you away?

Michael: At this point, we've done almost 750 interviews. It's hard to say who’s the best because they're all amazing people.

The other day I had the president of IT for UPS as a guest on CXOTalk. He was talking about how they deliver millions of packages on time every single day. It's mind-boggling. He gave that data-driven perspective.

Not long ago, I had the CIO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise talking about investment planning. I had the CEO of the parent company of the Philadelphia 76ers talking about managing a professional sports team and how negativity on social media affects their players.

I had the woman who's responsible for healthcare at Nvidia talking about drug discovery and artificial intelligence. Another guest was the president of the Mayo Clinic Platform and spoke about how to use data for healthcare.

Each one of these people is a universe unto themselves.

In Part 2 of the conversationMichael talks about the role of data, and which healthcare industry players he predicts will be the winners in the next five years.

About the participants:

Michael Krigsman is the publisher of CXOTalk, which brings together top business leaders for in-depth conversation about leadership, innovation and digital disruption.

Andrew Le, MD, is the CEO and cofounder of Buoy Health.