Since 2010, the MedStar Institute for Innovation (MI2) has hosted an annual Innovations in... Thinking Differently Forum. The forum brings together employees from across MedStar Health and works to catalyze conversations on innovation and change throughout the organization. As Health for America (HFA) at MedStar Health fellows, Renee and I had the opportunity to attend the 2017 innovation forum in November, which was themed FRAMECHANGERS. After the hustle of the end of the year, I had the opportunity to reflect on the forum and connect the insights and inspiration I learned to my work as a HFA fellow.
What does framechangers mean?
A google search of the word framechangers will result in everything but a definition of the term. There is an intangible, indefinable nature to the word, much like innovation itself. As Dr. Mark Smith, the Chief Innovation Officer at MedStar Health and the Director of MI2, explained:
“Innovation represents a discontinuity in the way things were from before. It’s really a jump shift. This change, this discontinuity in doing is enabled by a frame shift in thinking, seeing, and understanding.”
Framechangers are essentially individuals, teams, movements, technologies, innovations, etc. that shift the way we think, see, and understand current processes.
The Future is Loading: Why We Should Forget Everything We Know About “the Way the World Works”
One of the first presentations at the forum was given by Donna Harris. She’s the co-founder of 1776, now the Northeast corridor’s largest network of entrepreneurial incubators with 11 campuses in four states and the District of Columbia. Donna’s presentation, which can be viewed here, addressed the evolution of technology and its impact on the role of American corporations.
From the 1940s to 1980s, individuals relied on large corporations for work and long-term career stability. In the 1980s, corporations began to partner with one another and outsource key facets of their businesses, thus allowing them to develop areas of expertise while reducing the number of personnel needed. Donna predicted future corporations will focus on individuals, self-organization, technology-connected networks, and a virtual presence/identity.
This evolution of technology and corporations can be seen in the taxi/ride sharing industry. In the 1900s, taxi cab drivers primarily pursued employment from traditional taxi service companies. As technology advanced, individuals gained the ability to connect with one another via mobile or web-based ride sharing applications such as Uber (founded in 2009) or Lyft (founded in 2012). In the future that Donna predicts, individuals will have the ability to self-organize around mobile or web-based ride sharing applications without a physical corporation.
The Future of Health Care and Telehealth is Loading
If Donna’s projections are correct, the future of health care will most likely mirror the future of the American corporation. Care will be even more individualized and networks of care will be connected via technology. As Donna noted during her presentation, we should approach our ideas and assumptions as hypotheses, no matter how concrete the idea seems. The idea of needing a brick-and-mortar building to provide medical care was once considered a fact of life and medicine. However, as telehealth and virtual care have evolved, this fact has quickly turned into an out-of-date hypothesis.
Just last week, the New England Medical Journal published an article titled In-Person Health Care as Option B. This article posed the question of how our healthcare ecosystem would be designed if virtual care became every provider’s first treatment recommendation.
Through my fellowship work with the MedStar Telehealth Innovation Center, I have caught a glimpse into the future of virtual care at MedStar Health and at-large. My hypothesis of the future of health care and my understanding of telehealth is critical to my work as a fellow. For each telehealth project, I must evaluate whether my ideas and assumptions are achievable in both the current and future healthcare environment.