I’m often asked about new and interesting healthcare innovations happening here in the US. Honestly, it’s very hard for me to come up with any. Here are the few that I think are interesting from the traditional sickness focused medical world:
- ZocDoc: It’s like OpenTable but for doctor appointments. Use it. I do.
- Freelancers Insurance Company: They are clients of my company so I’m biased. But they’ve created an insurance company designed for a life-long engagement with the 30% of the workforce that’s deemed independent workers.
- Hello Health: I’m a bit biased about this one as well.
- Practice Fusion
- One Medical Group
- Current Health
- Care Practice
All of these companies listed above are reinventing the delivery of healthcare by focusing on the consumer experience and their satisfaction. Beyond that, I’m not a big believer that the traditional medical care space is truly innovating on much of anything. Try and come up with one difference in your experience as a patient between going to the doctor today vs. going to the doctor when you were a kid.
I believe that only a very, very small group of people want to track everyday health data. I don’t see a new blockbuster drug around the corner that will significantly improve lives. New devices and procedures are being invented but nothing that groundbreaking. Most importantly, the way we study medical improvements is broken and there aren’t any signs that this is improving.
However, I’m fascinated by this cultural movement we’re seeing toward health and social consciousness that will do more for health than pills and scalpels. I think more and more people are paying attention to what they eat, how much activity they get, and what kinds of neighborhoods to live in that will make them happy. Think about what didn’t exist 15 years ago in a significant way:
- Whole Foods
- Michael Pollan
- Jamie Oliver
- Food Inc and Supersize Me
- Nike Plus
- The Truth Campaign
- Self-publishing: blogs for people with diabetes and other chronic diseases
- Open Source Prosthetics
- Dr. Google’s 24/7 availability
- Madonna Gyms or Equinox that make exercise entertaining and cool
- Facebook and text messaging for organizing your social life and enhancing the health of your real life relationships
- Bike sharing programs like bcycle
- Relatively healthy fast food like Panera Bread, Le Pain Quotidien, and Pret-a-Manger
- The Prius
The point is, very few of these innovations that affect your everyday health and life are coming from traditional healthcare. It’s too bogged down in profiting off sickness, government regulations, bureaucracy, pilot projects, and expensive mandates to produce anything significant. If I were investing in health I wouldn’t invest in sickness care, I’d invest in consumer-obsessed companies that are doing something for consumers to eat better, be more active, or live a healthier life. The most significant innovation in the past two decades has been a cultural health consciousness that’s just getting started and it’s coming from regular consumer companies realizing there’s opportunity in brands that enable a healthier, happier life.