In partnership with Penn Medicine and Independence Blue Cross, Dreamit has accelerated more than 40 innovative startups that are addressing major pain points in healthcare.
Roy Rosin, Chief Innovation Officer for University of Pennsylvania Health Systems, has been a critical part of this partnership. In his role, he works with key stakeholders across the university to fundamentally reimagine healthcare delivery and has a history of building innovation programs. Before Penn, Rosin served as the first VP of Innovation for Intuit, the software giant where he was responsible for launching products like Quicken and TurboTax.
Rosin has employed design thinking and lean startup methods to develop and implement breakthrough technologies in one of the most complex and slow moving industries. His approach is unique in the Healthcare industry and draws on principles used by some of the most innovative organizations today.
I sat down with Roy several weeks ago to discusses the state of innovation in healthcare, and what lessons we can take from the Silicon Valley playbook, here are some highlights of our conversation:
Avi: How does working as head of innovation at Penn Medicine differ from working in a similar role at a company like Intuit? Is the difference just that it was a different sector? Software vs. Healthcare?
Not all healthcare companies have such high stakes, however, but it is a highly regulated space. At Intuit, we also had to deal with regulations and compliance with data from many sources, so I guess regardless of the sector you just have to be creative in terms of how you innovate.
Avi: So what can Healthcare learn from Silicon Valley in terms of innovation?
Roy: What Silicon Valley does really well is in how they test their ideas and iterate. My team at Penn Medicine actually uses a set of what are called rapid validation techniques. They include vapor testing, contextual demand testing, and fake front ends and back ends, where you're wiring things together with chewing gum and scotch tape. The purpose is to test ideas quickly and cost efficiently. You are trying to engage initial evidence that something is possible. You are not trying to prove that it does work; you are trying to prove that it can work.
Let me give an example. Post-delivery OBGYN patients are at risk for high blood pressure. Physicians wanted to receive blood pressure values after patients have been discharged, but this was proving difficult. Patients wouldn't return calls from the hospital. Patients had difficulty finding transportation to to walk-in clinics or were just too busy with their newborn children. One thing new mothers do not give up, however, is texting.
So my team set up a "fake backend" where a Medicine Fellow would manually text protocols to patients as if they were coming from an automated system. Eventually through this "fake backend technique," we went from receiving zero response to nearly 70 percent response. Once we saw what was working, we could begin the process of automating that process.
Avi: One of the issues we focus on most at Dreamit, especially with our later stage startups, is scaling companies. What are the key considerations in Healthcare once and idea has been validated and you are considering deployment across the greater system?
Roy: First, stakeholder involvement is really critical. You must make sure you're being thoughtful about key stakeholders and allow them to feel a sense of ownership of the project. Second, you have to set defined metrics. One of many lessons we learned at Intuit is to set very explicit graduation criteria. Most innovation fails because you scale it prematurely. You try to go big before you really get it right.
Avi: What's driving the best innovation in healthcare today?
Roy: There's a ton of innovation going on across the system. I would say a key to that success is having excellent partners. One of the things we've done in conjunction with Penn Medicine's CIO, CMIO, legal team and privacy officer is create a path to bring external resources in. The Dreamit accelerator program has been a huge resource for us because it gives us access to technology that would be difficult to develop inside -- and I say that even coming from an Intuit, which has a reputation for in house product development. No matter how good your organization is - if you're the best in the world - 99.9999% of all innovation is going to come from outside . . . that's just reality. Case in point would be Dreamit alumni RightCare Touch and Tissue Analytics.
Avi: Where should we be focusing our efforts? How do you, for lack of a better word, triage?
Roy: In healthcare today, there's certainly no shortage of problems to solve, from re-admissions to hospital-acquired infections to chronic disease management. Prioritizing projects becomes a balancing act of short term and long-term goals. But ultimately it's this: every new project should have the potential to save lives, reduce costs or improve our ability to deliver effectively for a population.