Is Silicon Valley-style thinking right for healthcare?

The always thoughtful David Shaywitz writes about coming out on the other side of the Gartner hype curve (ever so familiar to this Editor) into the ‘plateau of productivity’.  He provides some anecdotal evidence from his Silicon Valley experience that you could possibly take the good parts of Hope and Hype and make them work for Health. His qualifiers lead this Editor to the following takeaways, with which Dr. Shaywitz might not necessarily agree:

  • You the entrepreneur may well be thinking about changing the world with your service or device, but you might be better off focusing on solving a specific problem (or in Clayton Christensen’s terms ‘a job to be done’) and then being gratified when you do, actually, find a way to change the world and yes, you make some money for your investors. The Epic EHR started quite modestly.
  • Silicon Valley observers are onto the hype cycle there– “the contrast between grandiose ambitions and disappointing delivery.” You should be too. If you’re in health tech, steer clear of the hypesters and the cocktail parties. In fact, be more like Dr. Shaywitz’s colleagues at MIT, understanding “the limitations of your work and the enormity of the unanswered questions remaining.”
  • Aim for more than tweaking something existing–the incessant efficiency innovations so attractive to VCs in this ‘stuck on stupid’ economy–and “learn how to develop profoundly improved therapies, that cure – or better yet, prevent – disease and disability. ” Break out of what Dr. Christensen’s ‘broken circle.’ [TTA 9 Nov 12]
  • Most startups fail, and to date there are far fewer successful exits in healthcare than in social media, which is why VCs like them ever so much more and they get the billion-dollar exits. More realistic is a modest return and a long development curve. So when seeking funding, be conservative and find alternate means.

Hope, Hype, And Health In Silicon Valley (Forbes)

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