Last Wednesday, I had the pleasure of providing a keynote address at the Group Practice Improvement Network (GPIN) conference that was held in Seattle. I say “pleasure” for two reasons. Unlike most of the conferences I speak at these days, this one was held in my own back yard. Accepting an invitation to speak at an event in my home town is always an easy “yes” – no airplanes, hotels, or nights away from home. But the GPIN conference was a pleasure for yet another reason. Although I was expecting attendees from some of the most prestigious medical groups up and down the West Coast, I had no idea that such groups from all across America would be attending the conference. The standing room only audience in the Spanish Ballroom of the Fairmont Olympic Hotel consisted of clinical and executive leaders from every brand-name medical group in the country. It was truly an exceptional crowd!
In my GPIN presentation “Health IT – Pain, Progress and Promise”, I focused on why and how information technology is changing the practice of medicine. I reviewed some of the things like clinical cultures and behaviors, the regulatory environment and perverse business and payment models that continue to be a drag on more widespread use of information communication technologies in clinical practice. I also referenced what we can learn from other industries, sometimes reflecting on the “disruptive innovation” phenomenon so frequently cited by Harvard Business School guru, Clayton Christensen. I know this makes some of my clinical colleagues squirm a bit. Change is uncomfortable for any of us, and it seems these days the winds of change are blowing hard and fast in healthcare.
During my keynote I also referenced a colleague whose career and interests in many ways parallel my own. I’m sure for most of you reading this post, Dr. Eric Topol needs no introduction. Dr. Topol is Director at the Scripps Translational Science Institute and also serves as Chief Academic Officer for Scripps Health. He is also Professor of Genomics at the Scripps Research Institute. He recently released a new book that is getting a lot of attention, and is no doubt causing even more angst for some medical professionals who are struggling with all that is happening around them these days. The title of Eric’s book, The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care may indeed be a little frightening to medical professionals until they open the cover and start reading. Even then, some docs may be put off by the message. The book provides great insight into how personalized medicine, labs on a chip, social networking, apps in the cloud, the “consumerization of IT” (think especially Smartphones), etc. are setting the stage for a new kind of medicine that puts far more power into the hands of consumers.
I spoke recently with Eric by phone to congratulate him on the new book and find out more about why he felt compelled to write it. Here’s what he said.
“Having been a physician (cardiologist) researcher for nearly 3 decades, I have become all too familiar with how difficult it is to affect change within the medical community. When thinking about this unique moment in medicine, and the unparalleled opportunities for us to transcend our current population based approaches due to many new tools, I thought the only appropriate audience was the public. In current times, the power of the people, amplified via social networking, is truly unprecedented.”
So, if you are looking for a good read, I can highly recommend The Creative Destruction of Medicine. You can learn more by watching this video clip from an address given by Dr. Topol at CES in Las Vegas.
And if you are looking for people who can provide insight, tools and guidance to help you navigate this brave new world, I hope you’ll think of my professional colleagues here at Microsoft.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft