The Art & Science of Identity
1. The process or moving something from one place to another (Math)
2. The conversion of something from one form or medium into another (Science)
3. The process of translating words or text from one language into another (Art)
The Math: From one place to another
In 1957, after a power failure resulted in the premature death of a young child following heart surgery, Earl Bakken – a Minnesota engineer with a garage-based medical electronics repair shop – developed the world’s first battery-powered pacemaker. The time from articulation of patient need to development and implementation of the solution was weeks. The name of that medical electronics garage was Medtronic. Today, Medtronic is a $30 billion revenue company with over 85,000 employees in 155 countries. Its technologies, many of which shared that pacing technology foundation, treat close to 40 medical conditions in almost every major organ system.
Today’s healthcare and the regulatory environment that surrounds it is much more complex than it was in 1957. The success of the medical technology, pharmaceutical and clinical diagnostic industries has led to improved morbidity and mortality – an aging population is living longer, with more co-morbid conditions than at any other time in our history. Medicare, signed into law by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965, has become increasingly strained by the cost of the life-prolonging technology and professional services required to deliver them. The numbers: $3.2 Trillion US healthcare spend, $17.8% of GDP, growing at ~6% per year. The call to action is Value – better outcomes at lower cost … for more people.
Technology to address the “unmet need” has moved from disease-specific drugs and devices to holistic solutions that support the professionals and institutions who deliver them.
The Science: From one form to another
There has never been more fertile ground for healthcare innovation: creative, elegant, and intuitive solutions that address articulated unmet needs. This innovation may be disruptive, it may not – but it has to work, efficiently and with positive ROI.
The tools are quickly evolving to support this new value-based call to action – where devices were once single point of care tools, they are now part of larger solutions. Devices now generate data and information for providers to better understand progress over a length of time instead of a point in time. Care is increasingly moving from single-location based to on-demand, supporting a mobile consumer, and with the as-yet unlocked potential of supporting high needs, high cost populations. Telehealth solutions have changed the traditional face to face encounter to one that is more convenient and scalable in the face of scarce human resources. Home-based biometric monitoring and body-worn biosensors increasingly support this remote care delivery platform, shifting traditional models of physician and provider visits. No longer just for the sick in a healthcare setting – the data derived from these sensors can help define an individual’s baseline of health, providing a platform for personalized diagnostic and therapeutic intervention. The promise of right patient, right treatment, at the right time serves the value-based call to action well – improved outcomes at lower cost.
Perhaps the largest healthcare shape shift has been in health information technology and the emergence of Big Data. Over the last 15 years, the industry has made a slow migration from paper based data recording to electronic capture of health and cost data. The power of this data is not just that it exists in a harvestable static silo, but that it has a massive potential to dynamically interact with other patient-specific or population-specific data, seeding clinical algorithms and providing fodder for neural networks and artificial intelligence (AI) based insights. These clinical and operational insights facilitate streamlined allocation of resources, stratifying individuals to highly specific, evidence-based therapies. The promise of Big Data spans the spectrum from simple operational efficiency to precision medicine moonshots. We are early in this trajectory, and there is great opportunity to support its seamless transformation.
Taken together – medical devices, biosensors, telehealth, and health IT – these technologies have formed a new health ecosystem – one where we have barely scratched the surface of its capabilities and utility.
The Art: From one language to another
The last decade – with its significant technology industry growth and development – has unleashed a new word salad in health care: health IT, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, digital health, clinical rules, telehealth, mobile health, population health, MACRA, value-based care, ACOs, interoperability, PROs, APMs … The apparent diversity of needs, their potential solutions, and variety of stakeholders has created healthcare’s very own Tower of Babel. While the shared goal of building the value-based tower persists, the language of healthcare has gone from one to many, and understanding and defining the needs and objectives for each stakeholder is critical to successful execution. Importantly, how two stakeholders view the utility of a given technology solution may vary widely depending on their needs and perspectives. This means that companies developing these solutions need to be specific, facile, and nimble in their approach – with the appreciation that the end goal will be shared, but the approach skewed by a given stakeholder’s proximity to the cost or patient outcome input of the value equation.
This is where translation of the unmet need into a clinical product is realized. To translate effectively is to intuitively listen to the pain points of all stakeholders, and thoughtfully consider how these needs may be addressed by a particular solution. Effective translation ensures product-market fit, aligns incentives, and flexibly adapts to a highly dynamic environment.
At Translation Health, we understand the dynamic nature of healthcare and your business. We understand that the timeline from need recognition to solution implementation is no longer measured in weeks. Our goal is to support timely translation of your concepts and solutions into clinical impact and profitability. Whether through strategic planning, business development, process design implementation, or a combination, we combine real-world clinical practice and health technology industry experience to help you realize your mission.