Disruptive Technology

More Disruption Will Be the HIT Difference


The health information technology (HIT) industry is going through a period of rapid change and disruption. No longer dominated by old, proprietary systems, the HIT landscape is quickly evolving by way of disruptive code-a-thons, innovative start-ups, open platforms and systems, as well as well-funded incubator and accelerator programs. This fast-moving reality has shifted the focus toward new, emerging themes: data accessibility, partnerships and connectivity.

Enabling, promoting and even accelerating this massive surge in disruptive innovation is critical to making health care work as it should. The status quo doesn’t work, as closed, proprietary models do not foster more patient engagement, better care coordination and more creative solutions to some of society’s most complex problems. It is critical that we work together, as an industry, to simplify the complicated task of connecting participants in the health care space and to enable the efficient creation and deployment of new technologies.

To help contribute, and to promote this new disruptive innovation energy taking over the HIT space, athenahealth has started a program called More Disruption Please (MDP). Through MDP, we have built a community of innovators, entrepreneurs, companies and investors to drive this much-needed innovation in the health care space. Under MDP, we host hack-a-thons, webinars, meet-ups and an annual conference, all to facilitate a communication vehicle for this growing community.

Through these various forms of engagement, we’ve heard that new HIT start-ups all lack an important element necessary for growth: access to health care providers and their workflow. With athenahealth’s streamlined provider workflow and single instance of cloud-based software, we can offer entrepreneurs a “go-to-market in a box” opportunity that can accelerate their growth and chances of success. Innovators achieve instant scale across a broad population of patients and providers that all can benefit from leading-edge products and services.

Next year, during National Health IT Week, we expect to see numerous new entrants into the space from non–health care fields, such as technologists, engineers, artists and information designers. We see them working through HIT-enabled platforms to generate new companies, ideas, products, and solutions that can change health care in truly disruptive ways.

For example, our MDP program is currently incubating a team of MIT engineers who started a company called Smart Scheduling. These guys use airline seating algorithms to help hospitals book appointments and bed spaces more intelligently. We are also in talks with several other teams covering a variety of similar innovations in speech-to-text, order processing, document services and patient engagement. All this brings enormous expertise from other areas to make a difference in a health care context. All using athenahealth as their platform to access providers.

In recognition of National Health IT Week, HIMSS recently invited members of the health IT blogging community to submit original posts addressing the question, “How will health IT make a difference a year from now at the next National Health IT week?”