ViVE 2024: Navigating Healthcare’s Complexities through Collaboration & Innovation

ViVE 2024 expert panelists, including symplr President Nicole Rogas

I recently served as a panelist at the ViVE 2024 conference entitled, “The platform: Who will get the final rose?”, a discussion about the industry’s move to integrated comprehensive platforms while eyeing the promise of emerging disruptors. Here I reflect on the key takeaways and insights garnered from our panel discussion.

A financial checkup of the digital health market

When it comes to investing in the future of healthcare, the numbers speak loudly. Experts predict that spending on healthcare services and technology will grow by 10% annually to reach $81 billion by 2026. The surge in digital health funding, coupled with forecasts of technology adoption and market growth, paints a picture of an industry ready for innovation. Growth and investment figures tell only part of the story. What lies beneath the surface is a complex ecosystem of challenges, processes, and paths to progress that people working inside healthcare organizations know all too well. As the President of symplr, a leading healthcare operations software company, I’ve honed an understanding of the intricacies of the healthcare technology landscape over my 20+-year career, where investment intersects with the delivery of care.

As we hurtle through 2024, leaders are hopeful that new technologies and platforms, will help enable healthcare workers and administrators make healthcare less complicated and more profitable, all while improving patient care. The questions we debated included how to assess new opportunities and risks with margins and lives at stake.

The framework of platform prowess

In my many conversations with CIOs and healthcare leaders, it's clear that the term "platform" has evolved into more than just a buzzword—it's a vision for the future. When health systems and payers talk about platform solutions, they're essentially looking for a way to create seamless connections and communications across their technologies, avoiding the headaches of custom integrations and fragmented data that have historically slowed them down.

Imagine managing between 50 to 500+ software solutions to keep healthcare operations running smoothly. Now, add to that the reality that 90% of CIOs find this plethora of technology complicates rather than simplifies their work. It’s no wonder the call for simplification is loud and clear. Healthcare is complex, yes, but operations can—and should—be simpler.

One panelist, Scott Arnold, Executive Vice President, Chief Digital & Innovation officer at Tampa General Hospital, talked about having a constellation of services that needs provides economies of scale. While healthcare organizations need to move more quickly, he looks first to existing vendors to fill any gaps because they have to consider maintenance and “fewer things are easier to deal with” even before layering on cyber security.

Healthcare startups: beyond innovation to integration

When I look at the current landscape, it’s clear that for a startup in healthcare technology to make it, simply having a groundbreaking product isn't enough. The journey from an innovative idea to being a valued part of a healthcare organization’s ecosystem is fraught with challenges. One of the biggest hurdles is gaining the trust of decision-makers. They're understandably cautious, prioritizing security and reliability, especially when it comes from startups that are new to healthcare.

From my experience, the key to standing out doesn't lie in attempting to be a jack-of-all-trades, but rather focusing on a specific problem that’s causing sleepless nights for healthcare providers. Offering a novel or best-in-class solution to this pain point can significantly elevate a startup's value proposition. However, developing cutting-edge technology is just one piece of the puzzle. A holistic understanding of the health system, including how to seamlessly integrate with existing workflows and share data, is crucial and where companies often fall short.

The panelists did not believe that one vendor or platform would serve all needs because of widespread differences between organizations and the need for rapid innovation. We agreed narrowing the number of platforms to provide relief to CIOs and the healthcare community while increasing accountability of technology companies raises the bar.

But here’s the kicker – adopting a vendor mentality won’t cut it. Healthcare organizations are on the lookout for trusted partners committed to solving real problems. That’s the ideal landing spot where both sides have benefits and risks and we work together to succeed. It’s a lot of work and shifts the narrative from what the technology does to how it can genuinely alleviate the burden on healthcare systems.

The collective ecosystem: a collaborative accountability

While healthcare organizations are calling on incumbent tech partners to solve multiple challenges, the real opportunity lies in healthcare organizations inviting (pressuring) both incumbents and startups to collaborate to tackle significant challenges with innovative ideas and tech. According to my co-panelist Neal Patel, Head of New Ventures, Redesign Health, “Customers have more leverage than vendors do, and that’s where two companies figure out what the standards are so we can all grow.”

It’s tempting to rely on a single company as the ultimate healthcare solution, but this overlooks a vital reality. Healthcare thrives on innovation and diverse perspectives. A dominant player could stifle the creative spark of startups and entrepreneurs, whose unconventional ideas could revolutionize care.

Our healthcare ecosystem’s strength lies in its diversity. With multifaceted challenges, a one-size-fits-all solution falls short. That’s why at symplr, we advocate for collaboration between incumbents and disruptors. By pooling the best technology and the brightest minds, we can transform healthcare into a more efficient, accessible, and patient-centered system.

The path forward is clear – adopting technology platforms that are not only scalable but also foster collaboration to drive value downstream is the key. These platforms must keep pace with evolving customer needs and be built on open standards to ensure interoperability and flexibility. By focusing on these critical pillars, we can achieve a healthcare system that is not only more responsive and efficient but also inclusive and innovative. Together, we can create a system that truly serves everyone.

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