Harbor View Advisors hosted a Florida Venture Forum focused on current Healthcare practices and the innovations driving better outcomes and efficiencies. The discussion highlighted the effects of consumerism, funding and innovation on the Healthcare industry. The panel embodied different viewpoints from the Associate Medical Director of Mayo Clinic Ventures, a Partner of Ballast Point Ventures and the Director of Neurosurgery of Mayo Clinic.
Healthcare in the Hands of Consumers
Exorbitant pharmaceutical drug prices and lack of transparency in medical bills are some of the most notable examples of lagging consumerism in our current healthcare system. Although price transparency has come a long way-starting 2019, a new federal rule went into effect that requires hospitals to post their standard charges on the hospital’s website in a machine readable format and to be updated annually- there is still much progress to be made. Given that the United States does not operate under a single payer healthcare system, the transferability and availability of data lacks a standard across the industry. This begs the question: How far are we from comparing procedure costs of various nearby hospitals the same way we would compare gas prices before our next fill up?
A panelist noted a patient medical card device already in use in some countries that uses technologies like cloud storage and RFID to bypass the redundant tasks of updating medical records thus, providing a continuously updating medical record. Despite the overwhelming amount of data collected from IoT devices- like Fitbits- and electronic hospital records, our current system lacks any incentive to share data with other practices and the consumer.
These inefficiencies are apparent when it comes to transferring medical records from a primary care physician to a specialist. In some cases, performing a duplicate diagnostic examination is more time efficient than waiting for the original examination results to be transferred. These “double procedures” are essentially docking the patient twice for the same procedure and the expense is for the consumer to bear.
It is argued that empowering the consumer through price transparency and incentivizing data sharing will ultimately drive down costs for the end payer. This puts the Healthcare industry at a crossroads of the efficiencies sought for a public health system and the lack of public funding for the system.
Funding Healthcare Innovations
Some argue that a single payer healthcare system drains innovation and the incentive to develop a new device or treatment is largely linked to the financial reward after the massive spend on research, development and trials. This raises the question; how do we keep innovating while keeping costs down? Innovators are faced with the dilemma of inventing a product or treatment that will last for lifetimes or inventing therapies that are constrained by the current reimbursement models.
It was also noted that if an idea or technology is too far ahead of its time, investors may be wary to take on the risk of it catching wind in the market, so innovators and investors are left with the tried and true path of following the money. Instead of taking the risk of not receiving funding or the treatment not being disbursed by insurance plans, inventors are drawn to invent things that are already being covered.
Mayo Clinic has addressed this funding dilemma by implementing an institutional seed fund to move prototypes to the next level of funding. This venture arm of Mayo Clinic sets out to commercialize new technologies for the benefit of patients worldwide while generating revenue to support their clinical practice and research. Their recent investments have ranged from consumer-facing DNA analytics platforms to wearable smoking cessation-devices.
Lagging Industry Meets Leading Technologies