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What’s Motivating Healthcare Innovators?

In preparation for an upcoming talk on how Open is driving innovation in healthcare, I contacted a number of applicants to Allscripts Open App Challenge. Over the course of just a couple of days, I was able to video chat with CEOs and Founders of HappyHealth.me, SampleRx, Purple Binder, ROYL, Chiron Data Systems, mHealthCoach and more.

My main reason for contacting them wasn’t so much to understand what their companies do. Rather, I wanted to understand WHY they had started a healthcare company. I was inspired to learn more after hearing the story of Samuel Pierpont Langley in this amazing Ted Talk by Simon Sinek, one of the most famous Ted Talks ever.

A couple of takeaways from my interactions with these innovators: First, these innovators have extremely deep understandings of their domains within healthcare. Whether that’s making it easier for case managers to find social services when discharging patients or specialist surgeons having tough conversations with patients, these innovators know the problems they are seeking to solve and all the issues that surround them. Why’s that so important? Because there are a LOT of complex problems in healthcare, and it will require many innovators with focus and expertise to solve them.  

Second, not one of the innovators I spoke with mentioned money, notoriety, or anything like that in their motivation and future aspirations. Nobody even mentioned important business goals like revenue, growth or profits. All of the innovators I spoke with had personal stories of why they had started their companies and how they wanted to make a difference in healthcare. Some of them had failed and started again. I came away from these conversations heartened to find healthcare innovators following the Wright Brothers’ path, not Samuel Pierpont Langley’s (watch the Ted Talk).

Last I heard, more than 150 companies have registered to participate in the Allscripts Open App Challenge.  While nobody mentioned business objectives as a central motivation, many did mention their desire to reach the greatest possible number of patients and physicians where applicable. I couldn’t help getting excited about making that possible for these innovators by having them join the Allscripts Developer Program and reach thousands of Allscripts clients.

There’s a lot of work to do in healthcare. Fortunately, innovation has proven successful solving big problems in other industries. My discussions with these innovators lead me to believe there’s an army of innovators out there with deep expertise and the right intentions to fix healthcare.

The question is this: Is the healthcare market truly open to innovation? What do you think?

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