Enabling Digital Health at Scale Post-COVID19

In early 2020, as Seattle was the first U.S. city confronted with COVID-19, local health care leaders and organizations were not only positioned for immediate action, but also fortuitously very well-prepared. Recently, the Digital Innovation Group, in partnership with GeekWire hosted a discussion with local health tech executives who made critical decisions to stand up technology tools to protect the lives of frontline workers and patients in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Research & Incubations Dr. Peter Lee, Providence EVP & Chief Digital Officer Aaron Martin, One Medical Chair, CEO & President Amir Dan Rubin reflected on the early collaboration in a discussion led by Providence’s Chief Digital Strategy Officer Sara Vaezy. For insights into the impact on digital health technology investments, the panel welcomed Pioneer Square Labs Managing Director Julie Sandler.

The discussion started with an immediate key learning from One Medical’s Amir Dan Rubin “We can go faster, we can have two and three-day product development cycles.” From our team, Aaron Martin saw this as an opportunity for digital health to contribute solutions, unlike the previous financial crisis. Julie Sandler recounted how she witnessed the business community become inspired by the healthcare sector, riding a roller coaster of funding from spring to summer, with an upward trajectory heading into post-pandemic investing.

Dr. Peter Lee reflected back on the vision and partnership at Providence, saying “Thank God for Providence” for guidance and leadership in the early days for what quickly became impactful globally. Lee says the collaboration led to “all of us at Microsoft getting a lot smarter a lot more quickly.”

Sandler talked of the initial funding pull back from layoffs and furloughs in health tech, and then the rapid resurgence of investments in startups. The result was more funding faster than forecasted pre-pandemic and upward-moving financing trend lines despite the duality of the virus’s economic impact.

Martin compared Providence’s culture shift during the onset of COVID to “the days at Amazon during Q4, except it didn’t end” stretching for more than six months. The motivation to move rapidly to deploy technology safely to caregivers and patients led to the “borderlessness of organizations” for fluid interaction between companies. Martin noted two specific ways the healthcare business model must do well to evolve: first, be consumer-centric, be a “retailer in healthcare” and secondly, as an “integrated delivery network (IDN)” health systems must be “exquisitely good” at-risk evaluation. Ultimately, there should be “no wrong door” for a patient to find information and needed care.

Vaezy and Sandler discussed the parallels of disruptors in healthcare to disruptors from other industries and what impact the long-awaited launch of Amazon Pharmacy might have. Also, what will new wearables and consumers’ mobile devices do in assisting with data tracking and self-care, with several innovators within PSL’s companies to watch. Lee discussed data aggregation and the status of cloud technology from regulatory, privacy and security concerns and how platforms are evolving to speak the language of healthcare.

Rubin advised how equitable technology advances will be needed to make the providers’ “work experience” as good as the patients’ “home experience” to reduce burnout in family practitioners. There must be an elimination of the “burdens of desktop medicine” and allow our physicians, nurses and clinicians to return to “engaging with patients.”

The dialogue continued with insights and forecasting on how the very brittle ecosystem of healthcare prepares for future disruptions by becoming flexible. Health systems need to get off of the “fee-for-service treadmill.” Integration needs to happen now as the industry is now swimming “with the Amazons of the world.” The panel concluded with a discussion on equity in healthcare delivery and attracting and elevating a representative workforce with LGBTQ groups led by peers, hiring “service” oriented people, and ensuring BIPOC leadership to deliver culturally competent care.

Watch the extended conversation in the video posted above.

You can read about the Digital Innovation Group’s latest research on digital opportunities for healthcare on our new website. The Resource Center features our latest COVID-19 Digital Insight Series, which includes a growing library of reports on how the pandemic is shaping the future of healthcare. The entire series is available for download on the group’s Resource Center.

This article originally appeared as sponsored content on Geekwire under the headline Enabling Digital Health at Scale Post-COVID-19: Microsoft, One Medical, Pioneer Square Labs & Providence Digital Innovation Group”

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