Shannon McIntyre

After spending last week in Washington, DC for the mHealth Summit, I was fully immersed in all the expected catch-phrases: engagement, education, integration, and mobility. Specialty devices are on the outs, and the app reigns supreme. Convergence is on the horizon, and thank goodness – our siloed health and aging systems, and their separation from prevention, have caused massive havoc on the health and happiness of citizens worldwide.

But there was another trend I finally saw which has been sorely late in its arrival. Until this event, I’ve identified a stark separation between two approaches to innovation: tops-down, and bottoms-up. There have been events for the past decade exploring systemic change to the healthcare system, attended by major providers and health plans; then, on the other side, there have been gatherings of young developers and patient advocates looking for the latest technology breakthroughs in healthcare.

Finally – they are starting to connect.

The reality is that one cannot exist without the other. A hospital can have the most forward-looking doctors but if they don’t know what’s happening in the home between visits, they’re blind to patient realities. A senior living provider can use the latest technology but if they don’t think about how to answer consumer demands for aging in place, they are headed down a path of shrinking revenue.

And it goes the other way, too: I can use all the latest mobile apps and health monitors to manage my health but if I don’t find a way to tap into a larger system for expert engagement, I’m not getting the maximum value. 

So innovation is a two-way street. And companies are realizing this. While business-to-business and consumer models will always have their necessary differences, the language and offerings are starting to converge; and this is where technology can play such a crucial role. 

Technology can, and should, serve as a translator between the two worlds. But for real success to happen, both companies and consumers need to step into the water together. Companies need to change how they operate and communicate, and consumers need to take a conscious step towards active engagement in the process. I believe that the mHealth Summit was a taste of the future; and the future is bright.

Shannon McIntyre is the director of corporate communications at Intel-GE Care Innovations.