Internet of Business speaks with Doug Hayes, CEO of Junto Health, to diagnose why healthcare organizations struggle to adopt IoT and prescribe some remedies.
Doug Hayes is CEO of Junto Health, a New York-based company that helps major healthcare organizations and start-ups to share information and develop new technology solutions.
As he sees it, when it comes to the IoT, organizations are having to deal with three pain points: legacy, culture and technology.
But Hayes also has a positive prognosis for the industry: they are entirely curable, given time, patience and a positive attitude.
Internet of Business spoke to Doug Hayes to ask the time-old question, “So tell us, where does it hurt?”
Pain point #1: Legacy equals liability
In healthcare, says Hayes, legacy business models are fast becoming liabilities. It’s basically a question of disruption – an explosion in new technologies and new types of competitors. Well-funded competitors, such as CityMD and OneMedical, are eating into the market share of more established players. Companies from outside of the healthcare sector entirely, such as Amazon, are lining up to get involved.
“Speed, agility and risk-taking are now required to defend market share and grow in today’s new environment,” says Hayes – but these traits don’t necessarily come naturally to organizations in the healthcare sector, which are typically more geared up for making steady, deliberate progress; dealing with third parties with some degree of caution; and focusing primarily on mitigating risk.
“Hospitals and payers are now asked to develop internal competencies in technology evaluation and collaborative partnerships, and must update long-standing internal processes – for example, procurement – to create a simple streamlined way to test and adopt new technologies,” he says, adding: “That’s a big ask!”
Pain point #2: Culture clashes
Hayes sees two strands to the cultural challenge that faces healthcare organizations looking to adopt IoT.
First, the zero-sum market for patients has discouraged collaboration between peer organizations. In other words, the pool of available patients is a finite resource and thus companies feel obliged to compete for their business. That’s a shame, says Hayes, because it creates redundant work, through duplication of effort, and slows the pace of improvement.
“We see many opportunities for peers to share non-sensitive notes and join forces to develop or de-risk new technologies. For instance, health systems could adopt the shared IRB (institutional review board) model for digital and IoT pilots; this would reduce the caseload for each system’s IRB, while reducing the turnaround tie for tech validation studies and attracting more emerging tech companies to their doorsteps,” he says. Groups such as IRBchoice have already validated the shared IRB model, but providers have been slow to change their internal processes in response.
Second, the concept of ‘conflicts of interest’ is ill-defined in the healthcare sector, where we see an aversion to clinicians making money through their involvement with new tech solutions, as Hayes sees it through his work at Junto. He believes that this discourages ‘physician-entrepreneurs’ from commercializing their own solutions or advising start-ups. In effect, the practice of medicine has been kept separate from the business medicine. Some see that as a good thing; Hayes does not.
“It has sidelined the clinician and the patient perspective in the product development process of many new technologies, which explains the low adoption and retention stats from many health tech solutions today,” he says. “Technology built in a vacuum will not fix healthcare’s problems; we need clinicians and patients at the table.”
For that reason, he adds, doctors and patients should be involved with the development of IoT solutions, “even if they stand to make money from their involvement.”
Pain point #3: Technology gets tricksy
When it comes to technology, Hayes sees three issues come up again and again in Junto’s work with healthcare organizations. For a start, IoT is still in its very early stages of commercial applicability and most new IoT solutions don’t have any form of validation. “There is – and should be – a healthy skepticism on the demand side of IoT, especially after so much disillusionment from digital health,” says Hayes.
The next problem area is interoperability: many established technology vendors have intentionally built walls around their products and side-stepped industry-wide data standards, so that integration can only be achieved when specialist skills are brought in. “This wastes valuable time that CIOs should be spending on the deployment of validated tech solutions.”
Finally, there is a “frightening” lack of urgency around security threats, says Hayes, even after this summer’s WannaCry attack. And IoT devices are notoriously insecure. “If we as an industry don’t get serious about data security before pushing a wave of new IoT solutions into the market, we should expect frequent, massive and catastrophic security threats,” he says.
Later this week, we will be running Part 2 of our interview with Doug Hayes, in which he focuses on new approaches and Junto’s strategy for implementing them.
Doug Hayes will be speaking at our Internet of Health USA event at the Royal Sonesta in Boston, MA on 31 October & 1 November 2017. This event is North America’s only conference that is 100% focused on IoT applications for health providers and payers.