Providence St. Joseph executive Aaron Martin: Slow pace of healthcare innovation is jarring to the tech world

Mixing technology industry and healthcare approaches to innovation, when done right, can pay off for patients, says one executive.

There are major differences between how the technology and healthcare sectors approach innovation, but melding those two perspectives can pay off for patients, according to one executive who made the leap between the two industries.

Aaron Martin spent 8 years as a vice president at Amazon before joining Providence St. Joseph Health as chief digital and innovation officer. He told GeekWire in its first podcast on health technology that one major way the tech world stands out from other industries is the speed at which it moves.


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“I think one of the biggest differences between technology and pretty much any other industry is it’s a lot faster and easier to do innovative loops,” he said.

Healthcare innovation, by contrast, moves very slowly, he said. This is partially because of the major role regulation plays in the industry, and also because much of the innovation must be led by people instead of computers. Anyone looking to make the jump from technology to healthcare should be prepared to navigate those concerns and take an “innovate and simplify”-type approach, he added.

There are different ways to approach healthcare innovation: One is to focus more on tech tools, and another is to take a deep dive into improving care delivery. Hospitals are rapidly embracing tech-based solutions, and tech giants like Google, Amazon and Apple are getting into the healthcare game.

Experts like former Vice President Joe Biden have argued that the tech industry holds the key to transforming healthcare systems.

“That’s why we need your help—you are the future,” Biden said earlier this year at SXSW.

Martin said that those who move from the tech industry to healthcare and are aware of the differences find the work rewarding and challenging, and dedicate themselves to the mission of healthcare: helping people.

The full podcast is embedded below:

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