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The next big idea in healthcare? Collaboration

Chris Seper

What’s the next key to delivering the next breakthrough innovation in healthcare? It’s not necessarily finding the right investment or picking the right partner. The key factor for medical entrepreneurs today may just be collaboration.

The Kauffman Foundation has embarked on a demonstration project that’s investigating what happens when you get many of the key stakeholders in early-stage innovation to work closely with one another – startup companies, foundations, major health systems and beyond – to deliver new health technology to patients faster and in a more meaningful way. The participants in the project outlined their early efforts to the attendees of the Kauffman Foundation’s Life Science Ventures Summit this past weekend.

“One of the biggest barriers is to get everyone to talk the same language and sometimes play nicely,” said Ian Eslick, a research fellow at Lybba and a lead architect of the Collaborative Chronic Care Network – both of which are taking part in the Kauffman demonstration project.

Eslick was joined by Dominique Pahud of Kauffman; Anmol Madan of Ginger.io, a mobile platform that gathers and analyzes key patient data; Sean Ahrens of Crohnology, an online network to share information about Crohn’s disease; Mohammad Al-Ubaydi of Patients Know Best, a personal health records system that gives patients control over all their medical information in the hope of cutting costs; and Nikolai Kirienko of Project HealthDesign at the University of California at Berkeley.

Together, they’ll concentrate on taking the key phases critical to healthcare innovation – research, development, delivery, long-term care and payment – and turn that process into a type of network that allows stakeholders to use and analyze all kinds of data in a transparent and dynamic way to more quickly innovate together.

“Sometimes you don’t think of working with, collaborating with fellow entrepreneurs that have technologies that are complimentary – sometimes competitive,” Pahud said. “But if you work together you can potentially have a higher impact in the community which they are being used.”

Ahrens, who also has Crohn’s disease, added: “I know a lot about consumer-facing web applications. I know about living with a condition and building stuff outside the doctor’s office. But I know almost squat about interfacing with EHRs and pushing data back and forth from these healthcare institutions. That’s where Mohammad and Patients Know Best shine.”

The demonstration project is still being designed. But these different organizations see an opportunity in the project to suddenly give patients, who are more empowered today but so often marginalized, a chance to participate in healthcare in a way that helps change care.

“I feel strong that if democracy is designed by participation then how can it be that our health records are not?” Kirienko said.

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