A HIMSS Event | SANTA CLARA, CA | SEPT. 16-18, 2019

San Francisco, CA
September 16-18, 2019 | Santa Clara, CA

The Simple Question That Unlocks Healthcare Transformation

This is a remarkable time to be working in healthcare. A number of trends are coalescing and creating unprecedented questions, challenges and opportunities. Consumer demand is forcing organizations to reimagine their offerings, regulatory pressures are creating a tug of war on payments, new applications of patient data are revolutionizing care delivery, digital health technologies are coming to market with dizzying speed, and the march toward value-based care is disrupting business models across the board. Through all of these changes, organizations across the spectrum are trying to understand and find their place in the new health economy. For companies looking to stake their claim in the market, the opportunities for innovation are seemingly endless.

Innovation that is motivated by the end goal of market dominance often fails, however. Understanding that there is a gap is not enough to make a differentiation or position yourself for success. True innovation begins in a more rudimentary place, with a simple question: “Why?”

Many would-be innovators don’t ask this question. They focus, understandably, on what solutions they are providing and how they are going to bring them to market. However, asking questions such as, “Why are we doing this? Why does the patient or clinician need this solution?” provides the perspective needed to create transformative solutions.

Earlier in my career, I was on the front lines of health and had the opportunity to develop a plethora of clinical and patient care management technologies, including telehealth and mobile health app tools. These experiences underscored for me the importance of putting yourself in the shoes of the patient and provider – the importance of why.

If we hadn’t asked why, we wouldn’t have understood care processes, or what the patient and clinician needed most. We would have just deployed video, instead of solutions that added real value. By asking why, we were able to create offerings that improved the lives of providers and the patients they care for. The commercial success that followed was a by-product of serving a true market need.

Innovation in healthcare can take many forms. It can be something as practical as a mobile app for patients with certain chronic conditions, or something as revolutionary as partnerships that transform markets. The common denominator is a clearly defined “why.”

Next week in Santa Clara at Health 2.0 2019, we’ll be exploring both the practical and the revolutionary. And throughout our exchange of ideas, we’ll be keeping why top of mind. The more we ask why, the closer we can get to transforming health. I hope to see you there. 


Steve Wretling


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