To the surprise of many, Congress passed legislation this weekend that extended US healthcare to nearly everyone in the country. Bravo. The US joins the 19th century. The next trick is to try actual innovation in health care that lowers costs and increases the healthcare experience for Americans. There is almost nothing in the bill passed that does that.
The US already spends far more on healthcare innovation than any other country. But government healthcare R&D has gone into life sciences that haven’t paid off (genome) or advanced medical procedures that are extremely expensive and help extremely few people. In terms of longevity, the US lags Europe and Asia.
US healthcare needs platform innovation that uses social media to connect people to the medical system in new, cheaper, more personal and more productive ways. Hello Health is one way to go. It’s founder, Dr. Jay Parkinson, has just launched The Future Well, a design consultancy that promises to extend the new social media model for wellbeing across the country.
US healthcare also needs the kind of demassing and decentralization that design and innovation consultants can provide. Memorial Sloan- Kettering (MSK) did workshops with students at the Parsons School for Design to come up with small, inexpensive, neighborhood chemo centers and it just completed the first in Brooklyn.
The Mayo Clinic is innovating broadly in health care.
Clayton Christensen has a great book on The Innovator’s Prescription that calls for disruptive innovation in healthcare based on new business models. This is a very important book.
Now that the US has extended healthcare to all its citizens, the next step is to cut costs and improve outcomes and experiences by harnessing the best thinking of designers and innovators. Most of the concepts and tools are already at hand.