Overbearing U.S. legal system stifling health innovation, Shapiro says

By Eric Wicklund
08:22 AM

Most people know about Kim Kardashian, but few have ever heard of Joseph Murray.

And that, says Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, does not bode well for healthcare.

In his lunchtime keynote Tuesday at the mHealth Summit, Shapiro, who oversees the world's largest innovation tradeshow, the International CES, said innovation is being stifled in healthcare by an overbearing legal system, a financial framework that rewards physicians for avoiding new technology and choosing more expensive procedures, and a testing and approval process that can't keep up with technology.

"Our healthcare system is based on a system that was (established) before the Internet," he lamented.

Shapiro, whose book on "Ninja Innovation" is due out next year, said the intersection of consumer healthcare and innovative technology is "absolutely critical." He called on the healthcare community to "think outside the box" and "solve problems in a creative way with the tools at your disposal."

His suggestions? Change the legal system to what he called "loser-pays litigation," get rid of the stifling patent system – in particular, patent trolls – stop incentivizing doctors for choosing more expensive drugs, amend Obamacare to eliminate new taxes on healthcare innovations, speedup the FDA's review process, and change the nation's immigration policy from a lottery-based system to one that rewards creative minds.

[Q&A: Aetna CEO Bertolini on the linke between mHealth and the payer commnunity]

"We have to change our culture," he said. "Are the best and the brightest going to be going into medicine in the future? That's a question we have to ask ourselves."

Shapiro pointed out that the International CES, which will take place in January in Las Vegas, will attract some 150,000 innovators and entrepreneurs (the public isn't invited to the show) and some 3,000 exhibitors, 10 percent of which are focused on healthcare. The show’s healthcare offerings, which include a Digital Health Summit, are growing each year, he said.

Among those exhibitors he singled out HealthSpot, a Dublin, Ohio-based company that has come out with the HealthSpot Station, a private, walk-in kiosk that can be placed anywhere (a business, a retail location, a mall) and allow a visitor to connect via video-conferencing capabilities to a doctor for a medical checkup. HealthSpot debuted its kiosk at a CES event in New York last month and will have it on display in Las Vegas next month.

Shapiro said healthcare has to understand that it's at a crossroads, and that a collision of cultures is inevitable. Healthcare represents the nation's biggest expense and is in dire need of economic growth.

"Economic growth comes from innovation," he said.

Perhaps Ninja innovation.

(And for the record, Joseph Murray is a Nobel winner who carried out the first successful kidney transplant, pioneered the organ transplant process and died just last month. Kim Kardashian … needs no identification, sadly enough.)

Also from 2012 mHealth Summit:

Verizon's Tippett says mHealth data transfer and security must be invisible and seamless

HIMSS study finds spike in health orgs with mobile policy in place

Keynote: Aetna CEO Marc Bertolini says consumers will engage if mHealth is easy

Africa's mHealth breakthroughs to pave way for the U.S.

mHealth industry in 'learning mode' for privacy and security