Guest Post: Finding Healthcare IT’s Blue Oceans and Green Meadows

1-15-2013 6-45-56 AM

Maybe I’ve been reading too much. I feel as though I’m in an HIT bipolar world. Has the industry come a long way, or have we in fact made minimal progress? Take a sampling of recent articles within the past five days.

  • Commonwealth Fund said that high-performing healthcare organizations, supported of course by healthcare IT, could cut $2 trillion from Medicare spending. Great news!
  • RAND Corporation weighed in this week with an apology (or something close to it) for its 2005 study that projected EMR-driven savings of $81 billion per year have not been realized. That’s not so good …
  • Another study concluded that electronic communication could help solve the looming physician shortage. And Verizon CEO Lowell McAdams stated barriers to health innovation are quickly falling down in his CES keynote. Fantastic!
  • However AAMI’s report on interoperability (or lack thereof) said we still haven’t solved that problem. That doesn’t seem to bode well for communication or innovation …
  • Rock Health announced that investors are pouring more money in digital health than in 2011, many of them involving companies that focus on patient engagement. Awesome!
  • Another article says ACOs are growing and the organizations involved are sticking with established (closed) vendors. A KLAS report echoed that in findings that providers are mostly buying patient portals (a great way to engage patients) from their current vendors purely for convenience. I’m getting a headache …

We are in an interesting time right now where, technologically speaking, there is so much we are capable of doing. But we are also at a point where the business and delivery models are changing dramatically (again) for healthcare along with how incentives are created or realigned.

Product management urges creating products that are valuable, unique, and sustainable. That last item is very unstable. For that reason, sustainability is the most important part of trying to make positive changes.

Sustainability requires a favorable environment. For example, mHealth applications are surging, but the environment isn’t providing incentives for using them.

The business strategy book Blue Ocean Strategy says an organization should create new demand in an uncontested market space. That’s easier than going head to head with entrenched suppliers in an established industry.

In healthcare IT, this might be called a “green meadow strategy” — finding the environment where an idea can flourish.

Just from reading a week’s worth of news, it’s obvious that we don’t really know whether healthcare IT is better or worse off than before. Either way, entrepreneurs should be looking for their own green meadows.

Clark W. is a healthcare IT lifer with provider and vendor experience as a software developer, application analyst, and product manager.

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