Finding the Common Thread in Healthcare Innovation: Part 2
PublishedDecember 6, 2021
Andrew Le, MD: Earlier, you shared a sampling of the experts you’ve talked with recently. Given that you get to see a wide breadth of industries, what ideas, shifts or trends surprised you most in 2021?
Michael Krigsman: The role of data as an input to define various products and services has become very prominent, very quickly. And of course, the role of AI and machine learning, which is intimately connected to the type of data you're working with.
One of the big themes people talk about is the switches they had to make at the start of the pandemic. From a digital transformation standpoint, the pandemic drove very rapid business changes.
Companies were saying, “Today we're in the office, but next week we're not going to be. What does this mean for the way that we work together and communicate? How are we going to innovate?”
This has been a difficult challenge for many organizations, and we're still addressing it years later.
"The role of data as an input to define various products and services has become very prominent, very quickly."
Andrew: Yeah. The pandemic created a lot of pressure on the normal ways in which companies work.
That’s true across every industry.
Think about the level of disruption and the process changes healthcare providers had to make. In their case, it's not just a matter of innovating to define a new product or service.
Not figuring out how to work differently would mean that patients and providers would get sick. The stakes are literally life and death. [mt1] And how do we simultaneously handle the enormous volume?
Healthcare has changed and will be changed for a long time. Forget all the innovation in machine learning and drug discovery that we talked about earlier. We’re just talking in terms of the process of seeing patients and how clinicians operate. Talk about having to transform, use new technologies and be agile!
Andrew: Totally agree with you. Looking ahead, with the trends of virtual work, data science and AI machine learning, who do you think will be the winners in five years?
Michael: There are going to be two or three segments.
Number one is people who figure out how to deliver healthcare less expensively and more efficiently, while keeping the quality high. The per-capita health spend in this country is one of the highest in the world, but we’re hardly ranked as number one in quality. So that implies a tremendous amount of inefficiency. Anybody who can figure out how to deal with that effectively will be a massive winner.
Then we have the use of data-driven machine learning to discover new drugs and treatments, including gene treatments. For example, if you have sufficient data correlated with healthcare results, you may be able to figure out what kinds of treatments are more effective for cancer. The use of data and algorithms to drive correlations that we wouldn’t otherwise discover is going to be enormous.
I interviewed John Halamka, the president of the Mayo Clinic Platform. That's what they're doing. They're aggregating and analyzing this data. So that's the second broad category of success.
The third has to do with the personalization of medicine. I interviewed the chief marketing officer of Aetna insurance, who spoke about giving discounts to members who buy a wearable device to track their health.
John Halamka is the the president of the Maya Clinic Platform, featured in Michael's blog series. Image courtesy CXOTalk.com
"The use of data and algorithms to drive correlations that we wouldn’t otherwise discover is going to be enormous."
Andrew: Do you think preventive medicine will play a larger role in ordinary people’s healthcare?
Michael: Absolutely. I can tell you a personal story. I’ve worn an Apple Watch for years. One day, I started getting unusual readings. My heart rate was high at odd times. I went to the doctor and discovered I had a thyroid problem. The watch alerted me to this serious condition through my heart rate. That's a phenomenal thing.
I should also mention precision medicine, which relates to that second category of data-driven medicine. If you have the right data and you can correlate it to outcomes, you can pinpoint where the issue lies to get that person diagnosed and treated more quickly.
All these areas are ripe for improvement. And I'd be remiss not to say there must be real systemic change in the financial incentives I spoke about earlier, as well as the alignment of financial outcomes with healthcare outcomes.
Which is to say, why is healthcare so expensive? Why does my health insurance rise every year? Everybody is pointing fingers at each other. What are the special interests driving this inefficiency? All this money is being paid into the system. So where is that money going? That's going to be another dominant healthcare theme over the next three to five years.
Andrew: I'm right there with you, Michael. I totally agree with every single one of those items. It sounds as if you wrote them off from our own strategy memos.
Michael: I wish I could say I've invented this stuff. I've interviewed some of the top people in the world who are thinking about these issues. Before our conversation, I read some of the interviews I've done recently. One of the amazing things about being the host of CXOTalk is talking with the best people in the world and hearing the distilled version of their thinking. I must give credit where credit is due.
Andrew: Awesome. Thank you for curating such a great lineup of folks and bringing those insights to our audience today. I really appreciate your time.
Michael: Thanks for having me. I enjoyed being on the other side of the interview for a change!
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.