The Next Chapter in Health Care Innovation

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At the Annual Health Care Summit, held by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, I had the opportunity to moderate a panel of health care entrepreneurs and innovators. The focus on health entrepreneurs was particularly cool for me, since health care is one of the core industries we focus on at 1776 and through the Challenge Cup.

I wouldn’t be the first person to observe that health care is a highly regulated, outdated industry in dire need of the innovation and enthusiasm that startups can bring. It’s the one industry that is critical to everyone—we’re all going to require health care at some point in our lives, right? Wouldn’t we all want the most innovative solutions to the challenges in an industry that impacts all of us? Plus, given how much of our GDP health care consumes, reducing costs in health care will free up resources to invest in our future.

Startups in general are tough, but I have particular respect for founders tackling problems in health care. As David Fairbrothers, CEO of Dorsata, aptly said, health care is a tough industry because you can’t let people fail. Doctors don’t want to fail their patients, system providers don’t want to fail their customers, and the regulators don’t want to fail the general population. So where are the opportunities to enact helpful change?

We covered a lot of ground in one hour, but much of the conversation centered on interoperability between systems for electronic medical records, and how sharing patient information digitally is the critical path to improving all elements of care. Of course, this brings up issues around patient identification, which is a separate problem to solve. And while so many entrepreneurs are making in-roads in terms of the software and devices used to capture and share data, it seems we are just at the tip of the iceberg.

The entrepreneurs I spoke with at the summit, and those we are working with at 1776, are doing really exciting things to enable care providers to share information with each other, to utilize online platforms that enable provider collaboration on care strategies, and ways to incentivize screening and preventative programs.

The discussion during the summit underscored why it’s so important for us to support entrepreneurs in this space. I can’t wait to see what comes out of the Challenge Cup competition—there’s a good chance that somewhere in the sea of applicants is the next great name(s) in the health care industry that could really change the way we do things.

Evan Burfield is co-founder of startup incubator 1776.