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Summary:

Don’t listen to the naysayers. The time to jump into healthcare IT is now, said Frank Moss, director of the new media medicine at MIT’s Media Lab. Creative technologists working in mobility, social networking, nano devices, should seek health IT opportunities. Now.

MIT's Frank Moss at GigaOM 2011

MIT's Frank Moss at GigaOM 2011Don’t listen to the naysayers. The time to jump into healthcare IT is now, said Frank Moss, director of new media medicine at MIT’s Media Lab. Creative technologists working in mobility, social networking and nano devices should actively seek health IT opportunities, and seek them now.

Here’s why:

1: Med students are wired and ready.

Ten years ago, medical students didn’t carry laptops. “Now if you go to Harvard Medical School, it looks like a cafe in Silicon Valley or Austin. Everyone’s got an iPad,” Moss said at the GigaOM RoadMap Conference on  Thursday. As these students become doctors, there will not be the resistance to health IT that older doctors exhibited, he said.

2: There’s a big B-to-B opportunity now.

Any employer of any size knows it can’t afford employee health costs as they stand. They know they need to help employees reduce disease. “This is a huge market for startups,” Moss said.

3:  A big B-to-C opportunity is coming soon.

IT innovators see it coming and they’ll work out a business model. Moss isn’t sure if it’ll be advertising or subscription-based, but it’ll be here, he said.

Moss, who wrote an Op-Ed piece on the topic in The New York Timesacted as a cheerleader for prospective entrepreneurs who might be spooked by uncertainty around payback.

“Don’t listen to the VCs, who say there’s no business model. They’ll change their tune very soon,” he noted in his onstage discussion with GigaOM Pro analyst Jody Ranck.

For those who take the plunge, the satisfaction can be huge, he said, citing Dr. John Moore, a ophthalmologist who gave up his practice after one year despairing of the amount of time he had to spend on insurance paperwork.

Moore moved to the MIT Media lab, where he worked on a smartphone app that lets patients collaborate with their doctors on their own healthcare. “They see what the doctor sees, and can change their behavior,” he said.

One such app enables HIV patients at Boston Medical Center to visualize how HIV develops into AIDs, how the virus attacks their T cells and what happens if they do or do not take their medication.  Using that app, he saw the percentage of patients sticking to their drug regime soar from 25 percent to 95 percent, Moss said.

By democratizing medical care — giving people the ability to understand their disease — things can change, said Moss.

He cited the use of sensors and other tools to help people self-administer care. “Change is driven by the consumer or the individual. As these tools come online, they will change how chronic care, acute care, primary care and drug discovery is accomplished, he said.

Moss sees resistance on the part of healthcare pros and VCs as a good thing. “I’ve been through this before. I attacked people who believed PCs would not be a part of enterprise environments,” he said. Well, that certainly changed. “We’re at that point now where the naysayers, who say the healthcare reimbursement system will not work for this, that the incentives pay on the wrong metrics, or that Americans don’t care about healthcare — all that indicates fear that they’re wrong.”

“Now is the time for entrepreneurs to get on this issue. If you’re into technology and biology and social media and nano technology — it’s all coming together to create tremendous opportunities for people to use this data to change their health. It’s a great time for patient-centric healthcare.”


Photo by Pinar Ozger.

  1. Our 2-part in-depth review of the excellent GigaOM Roadmap conference is at http://appcarousel.wordpress.com/2011/11/10/app-carousel-review-of-gigaom-roadmap-conference-part-1/

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  2. Vincent Valentino Friday, November 11, 2011

    Fantastic article; great read to start the day!

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  3. As someone developing a product in this area, this article has really helped in proving what we believe for our business. Thanks and keep the articles coming!

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    1. chris, can you say what you’re working on?

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  4. César Rodríguez Monday, November 14, 2011

    Great article :)

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  5. Absolutely inspired by your vision. As a healthcare tech entrepreneur, I share your vision and I’m currently pushing forward this roadmap. And facing same situation amongs VCs as described. It’s really rewarding to see we are not alone in our inspiration. Thanks for sharing.

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  6. Working on an iPhone app to give CPR.

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  7. RT @mcabrer: The time for healthcare tech startups is now: http://t.co/Sw5dDiAx

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  8. The time for healthcare tech startups is now — Tech News and Analysis http://t.co/ehaJTUTu

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  9. RT @gigaom: The time for healthcare tech startups is now http://t.co/jJvk5aAq

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  10. Jonathan Mills Monday, November 21, 2011

    I couldn’t agree more with Mr Moss. IT is getting sufficiently advanced to detail with the intricacies of clinical disciplines, sufficiently social enough to interact with patients, and sufficiently flexible enough to not frustrate physicians by limiting the way the deliver care. I’ve worked with EMR vendors for over a decade and i believe what i’m seeing now with new concepts like the UP bracelet, Clinithink and ZocDoc is the start of an avalanche of new tools for all participants in healthcare to up their game.

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    1. Well said, Jonathan. The stars are aligned, we just need to create some powerful success stories and things will take off.

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  11. The time for healthcare tech startups is now http://t.co/GV7RPioL #mhealth #businessdesign #healthinnovation #kourkouronline #health2.0

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  12. RT @chasedave: Amen! @bphealth: The time for healthcare tech startups is now http://t.co/RXaiKgn0

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  13. Frank Moss’s ideas are badly needed in #HealthIT SoMe (but I can’t find him on Twitter) http://t.co/CPeWpNH9 #hcsm

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  14. Boston Medical Center adherence @ 95% “give patients ability to understand disease, they take action” http://t.co/06bGICEC

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  15. “@riaanconradie: The time for healthcare tech startups is now http://t.co/0El44T8j” #mhealth from South Africa is also discussed. #proud

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  16. The time for healthcare tech startups is now http://t.co/iPtMbRwp

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  17. The time for healthcare tech startups is now http://t.co/Z1XD42Cz. When it starts with don’t listen to the VC’s it gets my attention

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  18. RT @lesamitchell: The time for healthcare tech startups is now http://t.co/Z1XD42Cz. When it starts with don’t listen to the VC’s it gets my attention

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  19. RT @lesamitchell: The time for healthcare tech startups is now http://t.co/Z1XD42Cz. When it starts with don’t listen to the VC’s it gets my attention

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  20. The time for healthcare tech startups is now http://t.co/lR3n3GZC

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  21. The time for healthcare tech startups is now http://t.co/LX5ZhQPF

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  22. The time for healthcare tech startups is now http://t.co/1NMWIYO1

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  23. The time for health care startups is now! http://t.co/9Ay0jmUU

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  24. The time for healthcare tech startups is now http://t.co/tWyVvVe8

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  25. The time for healthcare tech startups is now http://t.co/ShMhZhG6

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  26. RT @villeohman: The time for healthcare tech startups is now http://t.co/tWyVvVe8

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  27. The time for healthcare tech startups is now http://t.co/6QWT15vM

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  28. Very interesting article and video!

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  29. The time for healthcare tech startups is now http://t.co/8HxWlgCl

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  30. The time for healthcare tech startups is now http://t.co/sOnhvS9m

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  31. Apparently the naysayers are wrong http://t.co/94Y5Yd8f

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  32. RT @kwestin: The time for healthcare tech startups is now http://t.co/m4aBX7ue

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  33. RT @kwestin: The time for healthcare tech startups is now http://t.co/m4aBX7ue

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  34. The time for #healthcare tech #startups is now http://t.co/qCp7YaFR — awesome article.

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  35. RT @kwestin: The time for healthcare tech startups is now http://t.co/m4aBX7ue

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  36. The time for healthcare tech startups is now http://t.co/liqkkAws

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  37. The time for healthcare tech startups is now http://t.co/3vITvaDL

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  38. The time for healthcare tech startups is now http://t.co/Lo6pBGXE #txxchange

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  39. Reading “The time for healthcare tech startups is now” http://t.co/PtvXdeRa

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  40. This a very gratifying article to read particularly in the environment where many people say that we should be taking baby steps. I don’t think you can cross a chasm with baby steps.

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  41. Jaime Mitchell Sunday, December 4, 2011

    This is fantastic! The awareness of accurate information about ourselves, those of us in similar circumstances and the changes or actions they are doing to be better will always allow us to see the universe of health as good! This are very interesting times indeed!

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  42. The time for healthcare tech startups is now — Tech News and Analysis http://t.co/Yk5KOTw1 (via Instapaper)

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  43. The time for healthcare tech startups is now!! http://t.co/C3NywBfO

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