Last week an amazing event occurred. Ten young innovative companies that were chosen from nearly 30 applicants had the opportunity to sit down and make their pitch to 10 of the largest healthcare organizations in the northeast region. Through speed dating sessions of 15 minutes each and a voting and weighting process, ultimately two innovators were chosen per healthcare organization to have deeper, more meaningful discussions regarding next steps that will hopefully lead to a contract. One definitive deal was made during the event.
Now this was not exactly “matches made in heaven,” this did occur in Philadelphia after all, but for the young companies that participated in the inaugural edition of the BluePrint Health IT Innovation Summit it might as well have been heaven for it is exceedingly rare for a young company to get face-time in front of the senior IT leadership team of a healthcare organization. This has been made ever more challenging as of late for between implementing certified EHRs for HITECH incentives, preparing for the switch to ICD-10 (one organization will spend over $26M just on the ICD-9 to ICD-10 switch-over), thinking through what may be necessary for migration to an ACO model, addressing physicians’ need to touchscreen tablet access to the EHR and just keeping everything up and running, well the IT staff has more than their fair share of tasks to accomplish and listening to yet another pitch from some unknown little company is not on the top of their priority list. Or so it may seem.
In actuality, the organizers of the Summit (Chilmark Research was on the Advisory Board) were able to put together a pretty tremendous group of healthcare organizations to participate that included:
- Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, academic medical center in Boston, John Halamka is their CIO.
- Bucktail Medical Center, a small rural hospital.
- CentraState Healthcare System, 271 bed hospital in NJ with among other operations, three senior living communities.
- Christina Care Health System, country’s 16th largest healthcare organization, based in DE.
- Geisinger, large vertically integrated IDN in central PA, awarded Keystone Beacon grant.
- Main Line Health System, an IDN located on the outskirts of Philadelphia with 4 hospitals and several medical centers.
- Penn Medicine, UPenn’s academic medical center and was the first medical school in America (good trivial pursuit question).
- Saint Barnabas Healthcare System, NJ’s largest healthcare system.
- Visiting Nurse Service of NY, healthcare is delivered at home as well, great to see this aspect of care represented.
- Mystery Organization, this organization did not wish to be named but they are relatively large IDN with presence in rural eastern PA.
An even more intriguing aspect was that these organizations sent some fairly senior level people to the event, people that can sign contracts and write big checks. Now either these organizations are very philanthropic to send such senior leadership to what was about a 1.5 day event or they are clearly in need of solutions that their standard list of vendors cannot fulfill.
As to the final ten innovators, by and large they fell into three distinct categories, patient outreach/engagement, data analytics & reporting and health information exchange for care coordination.
- CareInSync, provide mobile-based “Carebook” to facilitate care coordination across a dispersed care team.
- Congral, novel approach of combining patient portal technology (PHR) with care coordination tools.
- Coriendo, healthcare focused business process management suite that overlays legacy systems, similar to enterprise HIE.
- Deep Domain, data analytics platform leveraging existing tools with a “logic” engine for rapid drill down on domain knowledge.
- Healthrageous, spun-out of Boston-based Partners Healthcare focusing on consumer health & wellness via remote monitoring.
- Healthy Humans, patient engagement via PHR with a multitude of transaction processes (Rx refill, appt. scheduling etc.) folded in.
- Quantum Leap Innovations, data analytics solution based on “patterns” in data sets.
- Rothman Healthcare, two brothers created the “Rothman Index” which combines multiple patient variables in an acute setting to identify patients most at risk in near real-time.
- SpectraMD, mixed service/software with analytics offering readiness assessment of affiliated provider network for formation of ACO.
- YourNurseIsOn, unique real-time contact and scheduling solution to source and allocate nursing resources as needed.
As an observer to the process over the course of the day, it was truly fascinating to hear how healthcare organizations framed their problems and vendors framed their solutions.
It was also a bit of a miracle as to the outcome.
After the speed dating there was a voting process wherein providers rank in descending order their favorite vendors of which two they would meet with in the afternoon for longer discussions regarding next steps. Now there was some concern as to what would be done if all the providers ranked the same couple of innovators as their top picks? That would have left a lot of innovators as wall flowers, or at least less than ideal matches would have occurred (providers were still on the hook to meet with at least two vendors in the afternoon). The miracle was that all providers were able to meet with at least one of their top 2 picks – the votes/rankings were that evenly distributed. Still trying to figure out how this may have happened. Was it the initial screening process? Were the needs and solutions that evenly distributed? Whatever it was, not sure it can be replicated, but then again, what if it could be? Regardless, this was quite an event and can hardly wait for the next one which will take place later this summer in the Mid-West and the last of these three events will occur on the West Coast in early fall.
Still amazed at the dedication and seriousness of the healthcare organizations who participated. Their strong contribution to the success of this event demonstrates that they are not finding the solutions to their needs in traditional ways and are seeking new approaches to bring novel technology into their organization.
Innovators commonly spent too much time talking about the technology and not enough time on the problems their technology solves.
Also, innovators would be wise to not think of themselves as “tool or platform” providers but solution providers. Of course their solution can be platform-based, but the emphasis is the solution.
Doing research on those you will meet goes a very long way in discussions with prospects. Very few innovators did this research but those that did receive high “goodwill” marks, even if a potential match was not in the cards due to other more pressing priorities.
The level of interest in patient engagement solutions was a surprise. We’ve been getting feedback from the market that interest in this area is rising but still astonished at how universal and pressing a need it is. That one innovator who walked away with a deal was in this space.
And just because a given innovator does not get chosen as a top pick by one of the large healthcare organizations does not mean it is not a good solution, most often it is simply a matter of timing and alignment of priorities.
There is a missing need in the market for bringing young innovative companies together with healthcare organizations. Blueprint Health IT may have hit upon a recipe that provides just the right mix of activities that lead to deep, meaningful conversations between innovators and potential customers. They really did a fabulous job in this inaugural event, which will likely be replicated by others in the future, hopefully with similar positive results.
YourNurseIsOn CEO, Matthew Browning provides his own perspectives on the event.