By Charles Platkin, PhD, JD, MPH
What motivated you to get into the health tech sector?
It started about 10 years ago when I got my first significant client in the healthcare space. Whenever I get a client in a new industry I try to learn as much as a can about their business and the industry in which they operate. As I started to do my research, I learned a lot about the problems with the US healthcare system and started to understand all the noise around healthcare reform. In particular, I learned a lot about population health management, value based care and various other initiatives aimed at driving down the cost of healthcare while maintaining or improving quality of care and the patient experience. This of course led me into the health tech sector as I explored the innovative ways in which healthcare delivery, patient engagement and economic models for paying for healthcare were changing. At the center of all of this was technology, whether it was related to AI, robotics, electronic health records, data collection, sharing and analytics, telehealth, remote monitoring and other initiatives.
Why NYC? Why do you think it’s becoming a leader in the health-tech sector?
New York has become a great center for technology and innovation generally – but it is becoming a leader in health tech because of the large number of hospital systems, universities and research institutions dedicating resources to the sector. Add to the that the investment by the city, state and public-private partnerships to create the lab facilities and other resources necessary to foster innovation. We have the talent and the money to drive change and have developed an ecosystem made up of various constituencies that are eager to collaborate to drive change and improve healthcare.
What do you believe to be the greatest challenges for health-tech? And the greatest opportunities? How do you think technology can help?
The greatest challenges for health tech are dealing with a very complicated morass of laws that are often conflicting and are regulated by both the federal government and the states as well as numerous regulatory agencies within each. There is also the problem of figuring out who pays for health tech and how payments are handled – we do not have a single payer system. Instead we have to deal with both commercial payers and government payers as well as employers that maintain self-insured plans for their employees managed by third party administrators. We have reimbursement codes and pre-clearances and an unlimited variety of health plans, which most consumers don’t understand but which are critical to getting patients to use costly technology – they want to know they will have insurance coverage. We have uncertainty around the Affordable Care Act and the healthcare exchanges as well as still having a large portion of the population that remains uninsured despite the ACA. And of course, health tech and healthcare reform generally is about changing behavior – it requires change both by the patient (the ultimate consumer of healthcare) as well as by the providers who are mired in old ways and in some cases resistant to any change that interferes with their individual decision-making regarding treatment and care of a patient. We also have data that sits in silos and isn’t shared or can’t easily be shared because of privacy concerns and in many cases interoperability problems across different electronic health record platforms. So lots of problems and challenges- but that does not mean they are insurmountable.
The greatest opportunities, in my view, are in utilizing and leveraging the data that we have to better inform all constituencies and create better results – more precision medicine, more personalized care, more information about what works and doesn’t and more communication and collaboration among payers, providers and patients. Technology is obviously the key to all of this – it creates the bridges that are needed and can remove a lot of the hurdles by allowing for more seamless collection, aggregation, sorting and analysis of data within secure environments. It can provide tools for better communication in real time and can remove obstacles that deter people from seeking preventative care. And as we have seen in other settings, it can be used to modify behavior in positive ways to hopefully improve adherence to medical advice and instructions, to incentivize and promote healthier lifestyles and to head off problems before they escalate.
What is the best advice you have been given?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you never make a mistake you clearly are not trying new things or expanding your horizons. Making mistakes is part of growing as a person and as a professional.