Some 'awards' for 2012 digital health

David Shaywitz, co-founder of the Boston-based Center for Assessment Technology and Continuous Health (CATCH) and advocate for humanism in digital health [TA 6 Nov], surprises in his Forbes picks for digital health company, person and book of 2012. First, the company: the EHR that dominates large hospital systems, Epic. Why? It may be awful and the bane of M.D.s, but the hospital system gets basic connectivity that chains together the bits, in a proprietary way, delivered with ‘flawless implementation’–the kind of customer services that holds every hand in MIS and HIT until the boo-boo is better. In other words, they delight the buyer. (Your marketing lesson for today.) Second, for person, none other than The Gimlet Eye’s circular bĂȘte noire Vinod Khosla. Shaywitz is this-n-that about the man, believing Khosla underestimates the human factors in medicine while agreeing with him on how behind healthcare is in capturing and using basic data, much less integrating more advanced data produced by monitoring. Editor Donna and the Eye take a dimmer view, believing that much of Khosla’s ‘disruption’ is to gain notice for (OK, hype) his investments such as AliveCor’s iPhone case heart monitor (just receiving FDA Class II clearance), cellphone microscope Cellscope and data collection/platforming (leading $6.5 MM in series A funding). Finally, Shaywitz’s pick for book of the year is”Why Nobody Believes The Numbers,” by Al Lewis. Disease management takes longer, saves less, has difficulty in achieving any ROI but can work out best for the patient in the long run, if we ever get there. But didn’t we know that already? Forbes article

Related: Khosla vs. Kvedar at the mHealth Summit. From Khosla, the usual ‘80% of healthcare can be delivered without doctors’, ‘50% of doctors are below average’ and most Americans today understand health information at a fifth grade level (so much for everyone being Quantified Selfers!). Kvedar argues the same points from ‘60% of healthcare costs are labor’ and that computers are better than humans at algorithmic tasks. Not much of a debate here as Khosla gets 80% of the article lineage. mHIMSS

1 thought on “Some 'awards' for 2012 digital health

  1. More than fair summary of my piece. Re: VK, I would refer interested readers to this piece ( and this piece ( ) from over the summer. I agree that especially in his white paper he promotes his portfolio companies conspicuously, but on the other hand, he’s seriously investing in a space many other investors refuse to touch. So, in the area/skin in the game/etc. Finally, re: dis mgmt – appreciate that challenges of dis mgmt may be well known to readers here, but it’s hard, at least for me, not to be struck by the outsized claims many programs make, and that many startups notice. It seems to be critically important for entrepreneurs in digital health to have a very realistic sense of how hard it actually is to generate ROI for health (and perhaps even more so, wellness). Point isn’t that ROI is only objective, but it is fairly important when entrepreneurs create business plans, so it seems important to know what you’re getting yourself into.

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