Key for Health IT Entrepreneurs: Don’t Disrupt the Wrong Thing

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“”We’re on the cusp of a revolution” that is much more than a technological change, Wachter pointed out. He added, “We will get it right if we figure out not only the technology, but the adaptive change” needed for doctors and nurses on the front lines of care.

That same blunt message of “don’t hype, don’t harm” was reinforced the next day by Blum in regard to digital health apps. Blum, also an internist, is Director of the Center for Digital Health Innovation at UCSF. Like Wachter, he’s a health IT leader, not a Luddite.”

Too many entrepreneurs, said Blum, come to him with “a fairy tale. There’s a new sensor, Bluetooth-enabled, and it zips right to your doctor, who’s waiting for this.”

Added Blum, “Someone’s delusional…. You can’t just dump data in the medical record. It needs to be in the care process.”

What Wachter and Blum were both warning about, albeit from different perspectives, is the danger of disruptive technology that disrupts the wrong things: upsets checks and balances that keep patients safe, makes working conditions more stressful and simply doesn’t play well with others.

“Technologies don’t fix things,” noted Blum, standing in front of a slide showing a frustrated user tearing out his hair. “At best, they’re an enabler.”
The key to business success, however, will be to disrupt medicine without disrupting the lives of those who practice it.”

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