We may be some time – the incumbents are not ready…yet

  |   Thought Leadership

We don’t tell our network what to do. However, if you haven’t signed up to FastCompany website and its network of organisations, then you should. The group bring together some of the most fascinating ideas and creative minds on the planet. They also run a FastCompany award, and this is their Top 10 organisations in Healthcare for 2013. The summary is featured below:




For sticking it to fraudulent pharmaceutical sellers. Sproxil has developed a game-changing approach to help eliminate the fake drugs that kill more than 700,000 people around the world each year. When patients receive their medications, they simply scratch off a sticker label to reveal a code, then text it to Sproxil, which verifies its authenticity. Last year, the company crossed the 2-million-use threshold and launched a partnership with IBM to analyze customer data so they could discern drug-counterfeiting patterns. Sproxil has since expanded to several other fields in need of product verification, from agricultural goods to auto parts.


For bridging the healthcare gap with telecom. Safaricom first won international attention for dramatically expanding banking in Kenya by providing financial services over the phone. Now, it’s doing the same for healthcare with Daktari 1525, a call-in service launched in late 2011. For a small fee, Kenyans can phone a doctor 24 hours a day, giving them access to basic medical advice in a country where healthcare providers are in ridiculously short supply. Safaricom recently launched a budget-friendly smartphone called Yolo, which is also the first Intel-powered phone to reach Africa.


For bringing design to third-world healthcare. While access to healthcare in developing countries has improved, new patients often shy away from (if not scoff at) providers who use today’s typically expensive and complex tools and machinery. D-Rev aims to bridge the gap by designing top-quality products that can be built affordably, then partnering with distributors to bring them to market. Last year, it launched Brilliance, a scaled-down phototherapy lap for infant jaundice that costs a fraction of the price of competing products.


For bringing design to your blood-sugar monitor. Dexcom treats medical devices like your favorite electronics. Its continuous glucose monitor (CGM)–a device that that monitors a diabetic’s blood-sugar level via a sensor placed under the skin of the abdomen–could be mistaken for a sleek flip cam, and helped the company increase it revenue 42% in the second quarter of last year. In October, the FDA approved its newest line, the G4 Platinum, which offers a color LCD display, customizable alerts, and up to 30% better accuracy.


GE Healthcare
For making an ultrasound for your whole body. While GE has long been the top seller of ultrasound devices around the globe, Logiq, its light and portable laptop-size machine, can do things most others can’t. Logiq has become a favorite of sports doctors–most notably those in the NFL and major-league baseball–by allowing them to peer inside an athlete’s body mere moments after an injury. Its latest versions can construct 3D versions of scans and observe needles inside the body during injections.


For redefining the role of the pharmacy. A public spat last year with a prescription partner stalled Walgreen’s revenues and siphoned customers away. To counter the loss, the company bet on a more refined approach to patient care, which yielded new mobile app features that help patients manage their medications, such as Pill Reminder, and a web tool called Find Your Pharmacist, which lists local pharmacists by their expertise. Those efforts, combined with partnerships with the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services to expand in-store HIV testing, created a new standard for the patient-pharmacy relationship.


For making it easy to access medical records online. Athenahealth stands out among the companies that are putting medical records online: It’s a system that doctors actually like to use, a critical factor in dragging healthcare into the Digital Age. Athenahealth’s nimble, cloud-based application is so attractive that more than one-third of its new clients had been users of other costly electronic systems. With its recent acquisition of mobile health company Epocrates, Athenahealth will soon be able to let doctors access patients’ records on the go.


For strengthening the doctor-patient connection. Teladoc provides medical consultations by phone and video, selling its services to insurers that want to keep members from making unnecessary trips to the doctor’s office. Last year, the company more than doubled its membership and launched a service to let physicians connect directly to their patients. A new partnership with medical software company HealthSpot will let Teladoc create private, walk-in kiosks for patient care.


Seechange Health
For giving members incentives to get healthy. After three years administering fast-growing products for United Healthcare, SeeChange Health launched its own insurance company last year, and it’s pursuing the industry’s Holy Grail: getting members to take more responsibility for their own health. The startup sells software that analyzes workers’ health risks, and then maps out plans to help them stay healthy. When employees complete simple tasks like getting a physical or filling out a wellness survey, they earn rewards in the form of cash or discounts on out-of-pocket expenses.


Before exercising your Steve Peters Chimp (http://www.chimpparadox.co.uk/) on why these things would never work in the NHS, because of different daily reasons, please consider this:


There has been much commentary this week of the NHS responding to the Digital Age, and of the government recommending a Revolution in Primary Care.


Many of the minds and voices that you will read in Fast Company either in Healthcare or other Industries would be able to offer our health system significant insight and fresh thinking on both these topics. We may have read something about them, but we are yet to hear them. Why is that?


Parts of the incumbent NHS, its established professional bodies and the traditional advisory firms know that any proof of success they see in others using new technology and new methods is also proof that something is erasing the gains they hold, which leads to a tension, and often paralysis. At the moment, the paralysis is represented by a wave of nostalgia.


Can the system do something? …Can the system deliver integrated care?


Soon, incumbents will feel threatened by their own lack of progress, which they will continue to blame outwardly on the market disruptors or even the government. This means innovators have to serve a rather unexpected need. More than anything, they have to help those incumbents move on from the paralysis.


Unfortunately, at this moment the NHS isn’t the place where Innovation and Digital Developments can take shape as quickly as in other Nations. With limited global investment available, UK professional interests (let’s face it a lot of whinging), bureaucracy and top-down interference to name just a few of the obstacles.


Investment in Innovation is far less in the NHS than in developing countries or those where modern health systems are emerging for example in Eastern Europe. Wouldn’t it be good to see a UK case study on the FastCompany list?


Instead our incumbents are still focused on System led Integration.


Now about that revolution in Primary Care . . .it may be worth us talking to someone new?