Xconomy Forum on Health IT: Searching for the Consumer Payoff—or an App as Compelling as Facebook

Xconomy San Diego — 

With less than two weeks before we convene the Xconomy Forum on Health IT, I’m happy to report that our final arrangements have fallen into place. Lisa Suennen, a co-founder and managing member of the Psilos Group, is now officially in our lineup—which ensures that our consumer-centric discourse will be an insightful and entertaining evening. Lisa has extensive expertise in healthcare information technology and healthcare services sectors, (she also is a San Francisco Xconomist) and she writes a blog—Venture Valkyrie—that is both fun and informative.

Our forum is set for the evening of Nov. 17 at the Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical R&D Center atop Torrey Pines Mesa. (More information and online registration is available here.)

The Psilos Group, which has more than $577 million under management, is a healthcare-focused venture capital firm that believes successful healthcare innovation “must reduce cost, improve quality, and align incentives across payers, providers, and patients.”

Now there’s a novel concept! We’ll have to ask Lisa just how often those interests manage to get aligned under our current healthcare system. I also must express my gratitude, though, by noting that Lisa graciously agreed to fly in for our forum from the Psilos office in Corte Madera, CA. She is a director at several Psilos portfolio companies, including Fremont, CA-based AngioScore, Cambridge, MA-based OmniGuide, and San Diego’s PatientSafe Solutions.

I’m excited about the impressive lineup we’ve pulled together for this event, but I’m especially looking forward to a robust and provocative (dare I say even heterodoxical?) discussion about how innovations in health IT could benefit consumers. Consumerism is not a word often heard in the lexicon of healthcare payers and providers, but it should be. For example, does anyone think it’s conceivable to develop a healthcare application for consumers as compelling as Facebook?

One expert in a position to address that question is our leadoff speaker, Dr. Kevin Patrick, a preventive medicine specialist at UC San Diego and director of the Center for Wireless and Population Health Systems at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). Dr. Patrick’s research focuses on using innovations in mobile communications, online social media, games, and other technologies to encourage healthy behavior (such as exercise) and to discourage unhealthy behavior (over-eating, smoking). He also oversees related research, such as the genetic underpinnings that social networks have on health—work by UCSD’s James Fowler and Harvard’s Nicholas Christakis that became the basis for “Connected,” their provocative book on how such things as “happiness” and “obesity” are related to who you know.

The main event, however, is a panel discussion among some power players in health IT, beginning with Arlene Harris, the first woman inducted into the “Wireless Hall of Fame.”

Harris founded Del Mar, CA-based GreatCall a mobile virtual network operator for Jitterbug, a cellular phone and service created to simplify the entire cellular experience. Jitterbug offers an uncomplicated phone capable of providing a variety of sophisticated services, including check-in calls, medication reminders, and “LiveNurse,” a 24/7 service that won the “Best Mobile Consumer Application Award” at the 2009 CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment conference.

Joining Harris on the panel is Jean Balgrosky, a former CIO for Scripps Health in San Diego, who has been studying the potential benefits of electronic medical records—and where the potential benefits are not being realized—as part of the doctorate she is just completing at the UCLA School of Public Health. Also on the panel is Sharp Healthcare CIO Bill Spooner, who spearheaded the implementation of an electronic medical record (EMR) at Sharp, a seven-hospital system that ranks among the largest integrated health care systems in California.

Our final panelist is Nathanial “Nat” Findlay, the founder and CEO of Quebec-based Myca Health, a Web-based platform commercialized in the United States as Hello Health. I’m eager to hear how Myca’s Software-as-a-Service technology platform, which has been described as part electronic medical record, part practice-management, and part social-networking site, has been deployed in the corporate health centers of companies like Qualcomm and Apple.

Rounding out the event are what we call “burst” presentations by startup CEOs at companies developing technologies with the potential to revolutionize healthcare. We’ve asked Mark McWilliams of MediPacs and Kian Saneii of Independa to describe how they hope to change the world—and also to explain what the consumer payoff will be.