Health System Innovation and the Low Hanging Moss


Yesterday I provided the opening keynote address and participated on an expert panel for the BayCare Health System’s annual Innovation Day retreat.  The retreat was held just outside of Tampa, Florida, at the Safety Harbor Resort.

BayCare is a community based health system consisting of 10 hospitals and 31 ambulatory care facilities.  Like other very large health systems, BayCare is focused on continuous improvement in the scope and quality of services it provides to its communities.  Part of their quest is planning for future growth and anticipating what kinds of health services will be needed a decade from now.  That was the focus of the Innovation Day retreat.

IMAG0008 One of the themes we explored was how to apply new communication and collaboration technologies to better serve citizens in the region.  This included how to utilize cellular networks and mobile devices, messaging, e-mail, and video conferencing.  We also examined the growing interest in “medical gaming” using platforms like the Nintendo Wii or Microsoft Xbox.  There are already video games that can help people lose weight, learn how to exercise, rehab from an injury, and recuperate from cancer treatment.  With new 3D motion camera controllers and hands-free technology like project Natal from Xbox, the opportunities to develop health and wellness video game applications will only grow.  Hospitals and health systems should be thinking now how they will incorporate these and other technologies, like Microsoft Surface and Windows 7 multi-touch, into patient care and patient education applications. 

There is also interest in using electronic data to more accurately manage population health, and individualize care.  Genetic screening information when coupled with the vast amounts of information in our health system data bases will reveal things we’ve never been able to analyze before in real time.  Social networking sites and platforms like Microsoft HealthVault will become vast repositories of health and wellness information that can be utilized by citizens and clinicians around the world.

IMAG0015 Although a great deal of focus and investment is currently around electronic records systems and HIS interoperability, my message to hospitals and health systems is that there is much they can do now with lower cost, commodity technology to solve some of today’s most pressing needs and put themselves in great position for the opportunities that will arise tomorrow.  It’s really that adage of going after the low hanging fruit.

IMAG0021 That thought was reinforced as I took a long walk around Safety Harbor after the Innovation Day event.  I couldn’t help but notice the Southern Oaks hung heavy with glistening clusters of Spanish moss.  For me, each tree represented a health system firmly planted in the soil of a community.  And the low hanging moss on each tree offered a plethora of untapped opportunities to improve health and wellness.  OK maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but it did cross my mind.

Bill Crounse, MD  Senior Director, Worldwide Health    Microsoft 

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