Innovation: Health Care Innovation to What End? Asking the Right Questions

It is a fantastic talk by Alice Chen and I think the key takeaway from her presentation is this:

“The innovation that health care truly needs is not a shiny, new piece of technology or a quick fix. It’s not about more new and different things to do,” Chen says. “It’s about new and different ways of thinking about what we’re already doing and to what end; and it’s about changing the questions we ask. The question we should be grappling with now: What is the purpose of our health care system? Is it to provide visits, diagnostic tests, and therapeutic interventions, or might it be to produce health?”

It is often the same thing I speak to my patients- my job isn’t to prescribe medicines. It is to restore your health as a physician. Healthcare innovation will come by asking the right questions in the first place.

However, the complexity of delivery in western countries has created numerous fuzzy boundaries because at the heart of delivery is immense reluctance to share interoperable data. When hospitals start measuring metrics like “patient satisfaction” instead of “health outcomes”, they are behaving as quasi healthcare markets for “those shopping for interventions”. Sadly, the doctor-patient relationship is completely perverted based on the “capacity to pay”.

We need innovation around insurance risk assessments, co-pay models and risk assessments. After all, healthy lifestyles will lead to better outcomes for those who fall sick anyway.

Innovation in policy will impact the population across the board.

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