Disruptive Innovation is Required to Transform Healthcare

Will disruptive entrepreneurship transform healthcare?

Hacking Health and Centre d’entreprises et d’innovation de Montréal (CEIM) hosted a digital healthcare leadership forum (May 2015) and attracted a full house, with audience members with research, industry, and clinical backgrounds. The event featured a panel of speakers and was moderated by Michael Grandinetti, a person of many talents who is a serial entrepreneur, advisor to venture capitalists and start-ups, and Managing Director of StartUp Boston and Managing Director of ProtoHack Boston as well as Global professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Hult International Business School.
Michael began by providing an overview to the state of healthcare, and talked about challenges facing consumers-as-patients. He noted that one of the biggest flaws of the current healthcare system is that medical communities only make money when someone is ill. As he put it, “The system is broken… the incentives are upside down”.

How can we move forward?

The international startup marketplace may offer inspiration with projects such as:

Embrace: a highly cost-effective infant incubator

Sproxil: uses mobile technology to combat counterfeit medicines

These initiatives provide preventative healthcare resources that is accessible to many and reduces the unnecessary burden of disease.

A video of Mike’s keynote speech can be found here:


Panel discussion with physician-entrepreneurs

Further inspiration was provided by the panel discussion with three former physicians who are now entrepreneurs:

Mike Grandinetti: Moderator

John Reeves: digital marketer and innovator

Omar Shaker: consultant and co-founder of Health 2.0 (Cairo)

Alexis Theriault: consultant and co-founder of CureBox

John began by stating, “I think doctors rock. The system is not broken. Having a surgery which gives you 15 years of life is a miracle”.

Omar considered this point in the context of workflow optimization, saying, “It is everything around this miraculous moment of surgery that needs to be improved – the paperwork, the administration – this is where the issues lie”.

Digital technology may replace up to 80% of what doctors’ administrative tasks while allowing them to focus on what matters: the science and art of medicine.

Michael asked, “Can you compare and contrast being a doctor and being an entrepreneur?”

Omar: “You lose control when you into entrepreneurship, in medicine you can have certain expectations…”

Alexis: “Going into the commercial sector is very hard… you may have 29 ideas, and someone else will have 125. Business is organic, different than medicine which is very concrete because I can really get to +know my patients inside out”

John: “Industry is a critical partner for all innovators”

Michael asked if the panelists had any advice for Québec entrepreneurs and they responded:

“Have humility when you go into business, be around people who are better than you… Invest in time rather than resources to understand what works here…”

For many doctor-entrepreneurs, the book is not written. They are applying knowledge as they go along. The story remains to be told.

The panel discussion was followed with presentations by PetalMD and OMSignal, two Québec startups that are…

Overcoming pain points in healthcare

Petal MD is a networking app featuring productivity tools for healthcare professionals. Physicians can use PetalMD to engage in tasks such as collaborative scheduling continual medical education, document-sharing, and secure messaging.
The founder, Patrice Gilbert, reflected on how far the company has come since it was founded “Four years ago, it was almost impossible [for entrepreneurs] to work in clinical settings – we could be kicked off the hospital premises”. The medical culture is changing slowly but surely as technology and inter-professional collaboration becomes a part of many clinicians’ workflows.

In terms of the evolution of a healthcare company, he remarked, “We can do a lot of innovation so long as there is the human ingredient such as data scientists, designers, subject matter experts, mobile gurus, and an executive team”.

OMsignal is bio-sensing apparel company that has turned fitness clothing into connected devices that can track the user’s bodily states.

Health Data Sensors and the Internet of Things
The co-founder, Stephane Marceau, explained that asking people to enter data about their heart rate, ECG levels, and so on is pain point, but one which had a solution. In a few years from now, smart apparel may very well become the norm.

Regarding OMsignal’s approach – and success – Stephane emphasized, “The customer has a set of emotions, we have to work from that… You need to access real buyer engagement to create products that can draw deep signals”.

Design thinking is a crucial part of this process even if entrepreneurs don’t always understand this approach.

This event showcased the many ways that extraordinary innovation is occurring in the healthcare industry, in Québec and beyond.

As Michael put it,

“Design thinking, patient journeys, raising capital – this is the challenge of healthcare startups. I can’t imagine a more exciting journey that can be taken. We have the tools… everything is in place to transform healthcare to be the system we want it to be.”

This Conference summary was created by Hacking Health Montreal in advance of the International Startup Festival, where I will give a talk on Disruptive Business Models on Thursday 16 July, 2015.


Author: Mike Grandinetti

Mike Grandinetti is a serial VC - backed entrepreneur ( 2 NASDAQ IPOs, 5 strategic trade sales), startup mentor ( Techstars, Betaspring, Founders Institute, MassChallenge, Greentown Labs, Hacking Health EcoFuel), public speaker (TEDx, International Startup Festival, C2MTL) , Professor of Entrepreneurship (MIT, Hult International Business School & Technical University of Denmark), entrepreneurship competition judge ( MIT $100K, Hult Prize, Hult Impact Challenge, Mass Challenge) , angel investor and board member. He is currently Managing Director of both StartupNext Boston (part of Techstars) & ProtoHack Boston and also serves as Global Professor of Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Marketing & Leadership at Hult International Business School, where he won 4 Global Teaching Excellence Awards and was named the Financial Times Professor of the Week. Formerly with McKinsey, he also serves as a consultant and senior advisor to national and regional governments, global corporations, startups and early stage investors.

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