Population health is a group effort

'The takeaway is you have to get outside your garage.'
By Bernie Monegain
07:00 PM
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People on the street

Why go it alone with population health when partnerships can be so much more powerful? That was one of the pointed questions asked and answered Monday at the mHealth Summit here.

The session "Partnerships for the Future of Population Health" highlighted three successful partnerships. The partners served up plenty of advice on what to do and what not to do.

First, the moderator, Jane Sarasohn-Kahn of THINK-Health, offered advice of her own – an African proverb, she reminded the audience: "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."

To date, the panelists were choosing far over fast. It turns out that teamwork has its own special power.

Gavin Teo is an investor manager in Comcast Ventures' San Francisco office. Teo, who prior to Comcast, worked in product management at Zymga, invests in consumer technology companies focused on the connected home and digital healthcare.

Why healthcare? Two or three reasons. First, Comcast is self-funded and self-insured, with a quarter million covered lives, Gavin noted. Comcast provides Internet and media services to 8 million homes, and it provides 50 million people across the world with media content.

[See also: Data is key to population health management.]

Lona Vincent works for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, where she serves as senior associate director of research partnerships at the foundation. The foundation partners with Intel, which was represented on the panel by Matt Quinn, formerly with the FCC and now a managing director for Intel.

Vincent's advice regarding partnerships? "Find a partner that will put the patient first," she told the audience. "We're analyzing what the people want. How do we get people to move on with their lives?"

Also, teaming up for the mHealth panel were Sarah Myers, RN, of ImproveCareNow at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, and Dana Ball, executive director and co-founder of T1D Exchange, a Type 1 diabetes platform.

Myers described the population she works with in Cincinnati as a network of 71 clinical pediatric clinic and hospitals, focused on GI conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, colitis and Crohn's disease.

"We really want to co-produce," Myers said. "We need partners to work with us."

All panelists supported the concept of forging partnerships to get more done.

Ball's advice is: "find a paying customer as soon as possible. Understand what everyone wants to get out of the partnership."

For Vincent, it was a "no brainer" to work with Intel Corporation. "They have the engineering expertise. They can do big data analytics."

"And as a technology company," Quinn said, "we view this as both something that is exciting in its content and effort, but also as base, this is really speaking about a new paradigm of measuring people's use, but also measuring their life. Going from the paradigm of every now and again when you happen to go to the doctor's office, or you happen to take a measurement and put it in a personal health record or something like that."

"The opportunity here in partnering with somebody who has such deep and rich understanding of Parkinson's disease, but also a position of trust and contact with population of folks with this condition, is that it really allows us to test out what we think is going to be a new paradigm of care," he said.

"That said, this is going to perhaps challenge some of the technology," he added. The "question is not doing it so much as a one-off, but doing as a way that scales."

Dana Ball spoke of the need to connect with other innovators. He sees it as important to attend conferences and keep up to date concerning what is happening in the industry and collaborate with other people.

"You can't stay in your garage," he said. "That's a really important lesson. I think the takeaway is you have to get outside of your garage. Collaborate with other people that have started. Collaborate with other people that have proven track records."