US stifles health innovation while it flourishes abroad

Getting new healthcare technologies off the ground can be a challenging task in the United States, but many of the ingredients for flourishing health IT innovation can be found abroad, Leonard D'Avolio writes in a commentary at InformationWeek.

One of the biggest reasons innovation in the U.S. is stilted is a lack of financial incentive, writes D'Avolio, director of informatics at Ariadne Labs, a nonprofit health systems innovation joint venture of Boston-based Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health.

Despite government help in moving toward a healthcare system that rewards quality of care over quantity, D'Avolio says that hasn't really happened yet. If providers don't have a reason to be more cost-effective, he says, the creation of new services that save money suffers.

To that end, D'Avolio says, entrepreneurs in the healthcare space may want to consider moving their operations overseas, where the market is more inviting. The developing world faces many challenges when it comes to implementing health IT, he says, but those challenges make innovation necessary.

For hospital IT departments in the U.S., innovation often is not a priority. In a poll by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives conducted last year, of 207 hospitals surveyed, only 9 percent said they spend more than 20 percent of their time on innovation. Eighty-nine percent of respondents said their organizations had no position directly responsible for innovation. What's more, nearly 70 percent of respondents said executive leadership at their organizations were either only "somewhat" accepting (42 percent) or "cautiously/not at all" accepting (26 percent) of innovation.

Sixty-two percent said their organizations either had no formal plans to focus on innovation, or they weren't sure.

Still, more money than ever is pouring into digital health in the U.S. In 2014, investors pumped a record $6.5 billion into digital health ventures, an increase of 125 percent from 2013, FierceHealthIT previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the commentary