Embracing start-ups to innovate and better help patients

Howard Krein, MD, PhD, Chief Medical Officer at StartUp Health

“Legacy healthcare institutions across the world should be open to the best ideas from the start-up ecosystem” says Howard Krein, Chief Medical Officer of StartUp Health.

We’re living in a unique moment in the history of healthcare. It’s never been more important for leading organisations to start making bold changes that will help them nimbly adapt to the diverse needs of patients, and better integrate new technologies that can drive care forward.

It’s often said that healthcare is years behind the digital revolution curve. With the growing “consumerisation” of the healthcare economy, this lag does a disservice to the ever-growing community of patients in need of high-quality, affordable care.

There are also growing pressures on the industry, including escalating costs, an aging population and the uncertainty around health reform and future business models globally. Notably, large hospital and health care systems in the US are consolidating and expanding, and while some of these networks have been successful, those organisations that hesitate to reinvent themselves by embracing a culture of transformation will struggle long-term.

Too many executives at large, established institutions are still making the same mistake: they’re not looking outside their own walls for new ideas and approaches. They’re entrenched in a stagnation mindset, and not collaborating in the development of emerging solutions with entrepreneurs working to validate the care of the future.

But by adopting a transformer mindset and thinking like an entrepreneur, these executives can encourage disruption within their own organisations by looking to external partnerships.

Aurora Health Care, a large not-for-profit healthcare system in the US, became an investor in StartUp Health, an organisation leading a global movement to transform health by organising an army of the world’s best health and wellness entrepreneurs. This collaboration is consistent with Aurora’s emphasis on transforming health care and reflects a continued commitment to internal disruption.

Collaborating with StartUp Health gives Aurora access to hundreds of vetted start-ups looking for opportunities to deploy their solutions. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship that makes a big difference to the patients covered under Aurora’s network.

One StartUp Health portfolio company, BabyScripts, uses digital sensor technology to transform the way prenatal care is delivered. Typically, an expectant mother would need to visit her care centre for 15 checkups during the course of a normal pregnancy. These frequent visits can be taxing and unrealistic, and each appointment only provides a snapshot of her health on any given day.

An increasing number of soon-to-be mothers under the Aurora network have access to a BabyScripts care package, which includes a blood pressure cuff and scale for daily home use. Studies show that encouraging patients to participate in their own self-monitoring at home actually leads to better health outcomes. A mobile app sends push alerts for prenatal vitamins, and also alerts physicians if there are any abnormal biometric changes.

Another common healthcare challenge is patients who are ‘lost to follow up’. This means the patient has stopped visiting his or her doctor, transferred to a different network or has been somehow lost to administrators.

With that in mind, another StartUp Health company, Caremerge, offers a software platform that acts as a ‘coordinated care network’ between the system and care teams outside of that system. The information stored is privacy compliant (HIPAA in the US), and allows caregivers, physicians, family members and patients to all be on the same page.

Patients today expect and deserve the highest level of care at the lowest possible price. Digital solutions and the internet have revolutionised patients’ access to information. We live in a digital world, and the solution in healthcare will be a digital reimagination of the status quo.

At legacy organisations, it’s a limited approach to assume that all the answers can only be found internally. Instead, legacy health care institutions around the world should be open to the best ideas from the start-up ecosystem and provide a fertile testing ground for innovation to flourish.

Now is the most important time to collaborate and embrace start-ups. Together we can speed up the cycles of innovation, and help patients live well.

Find out more at www.startuphealth.com

Howard Krein, MD, PhD,
Chief Medical Officer, StartUp Health

Sr. Director of Health Policy and Innovation
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