Most days, I report and write about traditional things people would consider healthcare innovations with big business potential—new drugs, devices, and diagnostics. Most of these things end up adding costs to the healthcare system. But given the ever-rising costs of healthcare in the U.S., more and more entrepreneurial energy is being channeled in other ways to tackle health problems while (here’s the big trick) lowering costs for the system.
What are some of the ideas out there with this kind of potential? I’m excited to bring together a group of four sharp innovators coming at this question from different angles, during a moderated panel on healthtech innovation at XSITE 2011, the big annual event Xconomy is organizing June 16 at Babson College. Here’s who you can expect to hear from at this afternoon session:
—Veer Gidwaney, CEO, Dailyfeats.com. This startup, with offices in Cambridge, MA, and New York, is designed to reward consumers with coupons for local merchants when they engage in healthy life activities like exercising, eating a healthy lunch, tucking in their kids at night, or saving money. The idea is that by encouraging people to take small steps toward healthy living in their daily life, it will add up to big savings for everyone, Gidwaney says.
“If we’re going to solve our biggest social challenges, we need to get people to change their behavior,” Gidwaney says. Obesity, for example, isn’t likely to be solved by a new wonder drug. “We need to encourage people to eat less junk and exercise more,” he says.
—Bob Fabbio, CEO, WhiteGlove House Call Health. This company, based in Austin, TX, and with services in Massachusetts, offers primary care at home or the office that’s supposed to help reduce costly emergency room visits. Leslie Norwalk, the former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, serves on the board of this venture-backed company.
—Norm Wu, CEO, Qliance Medical Management. This Seattle-based company, which has raised cash from Jeff Bezos, Michael Dell, and the actor Drew Carey, is building up what it calls a “direct primary care” model. The idea is sign up patients for a set monthly fee, and provide unlimited access to primary care medical services, without any messing around with health insurance. Patients are still advised to get a limited form of health insurance for real emergencies that go beyond the scope of primary care, but the combination of Qliance’s primary care, and catastrophic insurance, is supposed to save employers money, and save hassles for everyone else.
—Michael Martino, senior vice president of innovation and business development, CareFusion (NYSE: CFN). CareFusion, a San Diego-based spinoff from medical products giant Cardinal Health, makes products that are supposed to reduce medication errors and hospital-acquired infections that cost hospitals and taxpayers a bundle. It’s a pretty big business—CareFusion has 15,000 employees and a market capitalization of $6.5 billion.
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