Innovators share tech, ideas on treating the coronavirus

In the innovation circuit it’s hard to miss the array of new technologies seeking to address the coronavirus pandemic. 

“It felt like there was a whole lot of duplications and a whole lot of innovation going on in silos,” Neil Patel, president of Healthbox and executive vice president of HIMSS, told MobiHealthNews. 

He was even seeing these efforts first-hand. Patel explained that his wife is an ER doctor and when the coronavirus began she began collaborating on testing efforts with other providers in her area. 

“And I just started thinking how many of these calls are going on around the country?” Patel said. “I love that there is so much collaboration going on, but there has to be a role for HIMSS to play here in making this much more efficient and helping people spread their ideas and things that they’d done more efficiently.”

That was when he came up with the idea for the HIMSS COVID-19 Digital Think Tank, an online discussion forum, which allows healthcare professionals and innovators to share ideas, products and best practices. 

“We felt like the best way we could help in this pandemic is to connect people working on interesting things and to help them share their innovations,” 

To date, they’ve had 550 individuals create accounts and 60 people have submitted innovations. Patel said that the goal is to have more people consuming ideas than posting. 

“We’re seeing a good mix of solutions that technology companies have created and most of them if not all of them are being provided for free, which I think also is a good sign of companies just feeling like they have something to give and seeing it as a sense of public service,” Patel said. 

He noted that this is actually an opportunity for startups to get seen and show the value in their products. 

“It’s not a bad business idea either. Some of the hardest things in digital health [are] getting stickiness and getting adoption,” he said. “So, if you can engineer some of that by getting people to adopt it at this time when there is a willingness to do so and then you give it to people to start using it and it gets sticky. Then once you get past this crisis moment it’s like ‘How do I even do my work without this?’ Then you have a potential to be able to sell.”

This pandemic has been the catalyst for adoption of digital tools, he said. Today all hospitals are prioritizing the same issue: coronavirus, he said. This can help innovators understand 

 “So, I think you can say ‘What are the top 10 health systems going to be prioritizing over the next 18 months that they weren’t prioritizing before, and that are post-COVID impacts?’ and kind of segment to those,” he said. 

With the world united in the goal of overcoming coronavirus, he said that this initiative is just another way to help connections.  

 “I think there is a role for a platform to be able to bring people together,” he said. “My worry is that this is like lightning in a bottle a little bit. I don’t mean it in a good way at all but what are all the things that had to align for this to happen. It’s kind of like the push that was needed but no one wanted it to be like this.”


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