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What Do 60 Health IT Innovators and Tom Hanks Have in Common?

by Kyle Armbrester, VP of Business Development

Earlier this month, our Business Development team gathered the CEOs from 60 innovative health care IT companies, athenahealth’s senior leadership team, and a select group of investors to Northport, Maine for the 3rd annual conference for our More Disruption Please (MDP) initiative.

Building on the ongoing evolution—and success—of the MDP program, this event promotes partnership, openness, and most important, disruptive innovation in the health care space. They’ve all heard us talk about it before, but it’s inspiring to connect and collaborate in the same room. As I told the attendees, “Openness is pervasive in so many industries, but foreign to ours,” and we made it our goal during the conference to overcome this hurdle.

The three days started with two auspicious appearances: First, athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush doing his best Tom Hanks impersonation from the movie Cast Away, to set the conference theme of “surviving and thriving.” (“Wilson!”) Then, we were fortunate enough to have an incredible keynote speaker, the world’s foremost authority on disruptive innovation, Clayton Christensen.

Clayton inspired us all and provided some invaluable advice. He advised companies to focus on one specific job to be done within their business model, rather than have the mindset of “we will do anything for everyone.” He also quipped that disruptive products “transform something complicated and expensive into something more accessible.”

Jonathan’s presentation then discussed the value of measuring performance, and establishing scorecards to keep track of benchmarking and progress. Attendees were encouraged to build their own scorecards and determine their “hedgehog,” a concept from Jim Collins’ Good to Great, which aligns with Clayton’s recommendation: it’s the one thing you intend to concentrate on, and do incredibly well.

By way of creating scorecards and identifying hedgehogs, attendees found and discussed any revelations about their own businesses that surfaced. With that level of transparency—an essential value to how we operate at athenahealth—we were able to help one another navigate some of the health care market’s hurdles and strategize how to clear them.

On the final day of the MDP conference, after a unique State of the Healthcare Ecosystem Q&A led by a distinguished panel of HIT veterans, we launched into our annual CEO Pitch Contest. This exciting mini-event features ten start-ups, pre-selected by athenahealth client-physicians, who pitch their product or service to the MDP leadership, in the hopes of being approved and eventually integrated into the athenahealth cloud-based network. Each of the ten participants is selected based upon their solution’s potential benefit to doctors and the entire health care ecosystem.

This year’s winner, Aidin, pitched their web-based application that helps hospitals match their patients to better post-acute care. As the winner, Aidin will have the opportunity to pilot and scale their solution via our network in 2014, and we are excited to begin working with them! Congrats to Russ Graney, CEO of Aidin, and his team, and thanks to all the contestants for a lively competition.

I cannot help but feel invigorated after having been part of so many insightful discussions during the event. I am as confident as ever that we are making the right push to continue realizing the overall goal of the MDP program, to help health care work as it should.

Sign up to join the MDP community and receive news from the program and updates on our annual conference and other MDP-sponsored events. Follow @athenaMDP on Twitter.

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