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So Just What Is an MDP?

by Jonathan Bush, President & CEO

Is MDP a Mobile Digital Player?

Most Despised Person?

Nope.

It’s More Disruption, Please!

If you’ve read the blog lately, you’ll know that last year we started the More Disruption Please initiative to convene fellow health care innovators and, together, accelerate the pace of positive change in health care. In this way, MDP serves as an incubation community for fresh ideas and, potentially, the next big thing that could truly transform health care… like, for example, a handheld GPS for your health.

We started MDP, and we’ll keep doing it, because we want to make health care work as it should… as soon as possible and in as many ways as possible. Physicians, medical groups, and health systems need to let go of aging, static platforms for EHR, for example, and embrace real-time, dynamic applications and services that enable them to transact and communicate efficiently with supply chain partners and patients. What the health information technology (HIT) space needs is a steady surge of disruptive innovation to break us free from our path dependence and the sickening spirals of inefficiency, waste, and outrageously high costs that plague U.S. health care.

So, how do we foster this innovation through MDP?

  1. Health care needs new players and fresh talent. The regulation and sales constraints in health care scare away most venture capital money and venture-eligible entrepreneurs. We need to entice them to participate because we believe that no true innovation happens from the inside. Why? Innovation is disruptive and hurtful. Things get broken and people doing things the old way lose their jobs. The people who run the established players in any market try to keep disruption peaceful and stable… and thus, can’t be very innovative. But, if we don’t innovate more in the health care market, there will be no health market—because the government will nationalize it all when it goes bankrupt.
  2. As athenahealth grows, we become a little more stable and, well, a little less disruptive ourselves. We need to hang with these new crazy people, soak up some of their vision, and accept their tolerance for risk. We are big and strong, but we are a gnat compared to what we should be in terms of size and strength. Think we’re big now with 2,000+ employees, 25,000+ physicians on our cloud-based network, and $3 billion in market cap? Come back when we get to 100,000 docs and ask me how disruptive we’ve been lately.
  3. To meet the increasingly wide range of interests of our clients, we have to invite others to sell to them. We just can’t be the best in the world at delivering everything that a doctor needs over the cloud and through an electronic health record. Hence, by sharing access to our clients and their needs, we give up some pie, but make the pie so much larger that we are fine with it. Furthermore, if these entrepreneurs build something amazing and closely fitted with us, we might be able to give them and their VCs a comfortable financial exit by acquiring the technology and then integrating a new capability into athenaNet that is already tested and successful!

Under the MDP program, we sponsor hack-a-thons, meet-ups and webinars, and, in late September at Point Lookout in Maine, we held our annual MDP gathering. Along with a contingent from athenahealth and various venture capital firms, 50 CEOs from the disruptive end of HIT each gave a two-minute “elevator pitch.” The next day, the top five were each given 10 minutes to present to 2,000 of our clients via WebEx. Take a look at their stuff, and I think you’ll quickly see why we’re so excited about their innovations and natural inclination to disrupt!

So, we need to keep disrupting ourselves in order to change health care… but we can’t do it all on our own. Hopefully, MDP will keep that message closer to our faces.

Interested in joining in the disruption? Sign up!

Jonathan Bush is the President and CEO of athenahealth.

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