The Growing Reach of Technology Transformers

Imagine robots that act as stand-ins for doctors, watching over their patients as they recover from major surgery and regularly checking their progress. Through these robots, physicians can interact and care for patients from miles away. This is just one example of “disruptive innovation” and its potential for revolutionizing the way healthcare is delivered in the future.

The term, coined by a group of Harvard professors more than two decades ago, describes how industries transform to provide more readily accessible products and services to customers and clients. For healthcare providers, embracing disruptive innovation is more necessary than ever, especially with growing mandates from public and private insurers to provide patients with more value for less money.

“Hospitals are under mounting pressure to take over the entire episode of care and to navigate and manage it successfully,” says Chris Stewart, assistant vice president of Medical Device Management for HealthTrust.

Disruptive innovation tends to have a negative connotation, but it should be perceived as a positive for more than just patients, says Doug Jones, assistant vice president of Business Development HealthTrust.

“It’s an opportunity for hospitals, supply chain operators and everyone responsible for the care of a patient to collaborate,” Jones says.

In the past, disruptive innovation discussions centered on introducing new medical devices or surgical tools, but now the concept extends more to technologies designed to improve the experience or outcome of care for patients, according to Jones.

“We’re still focused on innovative products, but we’re thinking about devices in a much more patient-centered way,” he adds.

The most successful of these technologies are those that are developed in partnership with healthcare providers or that take their needs into account, says Vic Gatto, founder and CEO of Jumpstart Foundry, a Nashville-based investment firm for early-stage startups developing healthcare technologies.

Disruptive innovation should be “about providing efficiency to physicians and nurses, giving them tools that make their day and their job easier, and allowing them to see and treat patients more effectively,” Gatto says.

New technologies on the market may offer the latest bells and whistles, but if they don’t fit easily into the workflow for clinicians or get in the way of caring for their patients, they become disruptive in a negative way.

That’s why Jumpstart Foundry focuses on connecting entrepreneurs to healthcare executives who could benefit from innovations they are developing and encouraging collaboration between the two.

“We are working through large institutions, hospitals and payers to help identify the challenges that need to be addressed and finding opportunities to impact them,” Gatto says.

Several of its startups are seeing success in the marketplace for their groundbreaking technologies, including InvisionHeart, which makes a portable EKG system that helps hospitals and clinics capture, share and manage cardiac data from patients through the cloud. Another innovation coming out of Jumpstart Foundry includes software that helps providers access state-run drug substance monitoring registries so they can better comply with regulations. It also is working on digital tools that enable doctors to interact with patients after visits and gather feedback via text.

“We carefully think about what could make processes better for physicians, nurses and patients, and use technology to help deliver those solutions,” Gatto says.

The group brings together healthcare entrepreneurs, investors and industry leaders through several annual events. This Health:Further initiative seeks to spark conversations among stakeholders about the innovation needed to push the industry forward.

“In a population health world where the model is becoming fee for value, we have to use technology to be more effective and efficient in the delivery of care,” Gatto says.

A Holistic Approach to Helping Hospitals

As providers strive to find innovative ways to balance costs and quality, many are recognizing how disruptive technologies can help them achieve this.

“Traditionally, we have been focused on driving down costs while maintaining quality for HealthTrust members, but there are things that affect costs beyond the price of an implant,” Jones says. “We’re also thinking about how we can help hospitals lower costs and improve quality throughout the episode of care.”techtrends_2

Several HealthTrust solutions can assist members in using clinical data to measure the total cost of their operations and identify opportunities where they can use technology to reduce costs, while improving patient satisfaction:

  • inSight Ortho’s spend and utilization capabilities allow hospitals to look at their average purchase price versus what they’re charged so they can work with physicians to more effectively manage orthopedic costs and evaluate utilization—what items cost and what’s really being used.
  • InVivoLink is a care management platform that optimizes orthopedic and spine centers of excellence by promoting collaboration between hospitals and physicians with episodic data. The platform’s comprehensive implant registry tracks cost and outcomes data to reduce physician preference item spend.
  • Clinical Data Solutions (CDS) offers analytics for orthopedic, spine and cardiovascular populations, proving insight into clinical data to help members identify and reach performance goals in each of these categories. This assists hospitals in measuring their utilization rates against national, regional and local benchmarks, in areas such as length of stay and complication rates. Members have access to toolkits and consultations to help solve problems revealed by the data.
  • Medical Device Partnership Engagement helps hospitals actively manage their clinically sensitive implant service lines through financial benchmarking and clinical product categorization in order to help identify cost savings and clinical alignment opportunities.

“We want to make sure our members know that they can engage our team for assistance with physician preference items. We continue to gather and share medical device insights and best practices and can help guide them through strategy development and deployment,” Stewart adds.

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