Awaken the Healthcare Entrepreneur. Get ready for change?

Jacques Gilbert

I recently attended the Health Datapalooza conference in Washington DC, and it was clear there’s never been a better time in the history of healthcare to be an entrepreneur than today. Mega trends are reshaping the healthcare landscape, breaking traditional thinking and introducing new rewards and incentives that are fueling innovation. As consumers of healthcare, you and I can expect welcome change as we transition to becoming integrated participant’s in the future healthcare system.

Key to the entrepreneurial spirit is the liberation of health data and its use by entrepreneurs to persuade policy makers, payers and providers to reward quality over quantity. Global mega trends helping entrepreneurs get access to healthcare data include:

  • The Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs)i initiative in the UK that supports the evaluation by clinicians, managers, regulators and patients, of the clinical quality and performance of providers of elective procedures.
  • In Australia the Health Outcomes Collaboration movement now provides health data on the selection of measures to improve patient health outcomes ii
  • In Canadaiii the Institute of Health Information (CIHI) gathers, analyzes and shares health care data to support the quality of patient outcomes.

Spearheading this ‘liberation of data’ change in the US is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010 with its provisions for the development of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). In tandem with these changes, the Meaningful Use rules of ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) and HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act) to mandate the adoption of EHR’s. The PPACA and HITECH are the most significant regulatory overhauls of the U.S. healthcare system since President Johnson signed the Social Security Amendments that established Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.

So why are entrepreneurs excited? They’re excited because they know the current healthcare system is isn’t working as efficiently as it could be, and where there are challenges, there are also opportunities – entrepreneurs see these opportunities using liberated healthcare data to innovate and persuade. More data is available today than ever before. In the US, CMS has opened up its Medicare and Medicaid data sets for data scientists to discover trends that inform waste or improve diagnosis. The FDA has opened up its data, called open FDA, with more than 3 million adverse drug event reports for public consumption. The National Institute of Health (NIH) is now required to open up all its public funded peer reviewed research for public consumption. The Health Data Consortium, comprising HER vendors, payer and provider organizations launched a public-private partnership to share data, to foster the availability and innovative use of open health data to improve healthcare.

The global trend to liberate and analyze data is fueling innovation and impacting how healthcare services are delivered today. The ability to use data to predict what is likely to happen to us as a patient is a big deal. The possibility that something might be done today, that can impact the care plan for us tomorrow, could possibly save lives and help reduce the cost of healthcare merits all of our attention.

It’s an exciting time for innovators and entrepreneurs. In future posts, I plan to write more about how Healthcare IT will need to evolve to include open data platforms, and their many behind-the-scenes algorithms may help predict likely health-related events, which may impact both diagnostic and therapeutic decisions you and I will take as consumers and participants in our fast evolving healthcare system.


i Department of Health. Guidance on the routine collection of Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) For the NHS in England 2009/10. Department of Health. December 2008.
ii The Australian Health Outcomes Collaboration is part of the Australian Health Services Research Institute (AHSRI) at the University of Wollongong but is co-located with the Centre for Advances in Epidemiology and Information Technology (CAEIT) at The Canberra Hospital in Woden, ACT, Australia.
iii CIHI gathers, measures and analyzes health care data to support quality of care and health outcomes in Canada

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