A biometric platform for telemedicine in Sierra Leone and a concierge medical clinic in South Seattle were the topics of discussion at this month’s joint Health Innovators/Seattle Health 2.0 holiday event.

SHI panel 120513

Pictured are Jessica Chao, co-founder of Seattle Health Innovators,  David Kwok of HopeCentral , Donte Parks VP of Culture for Substantial,  and Michael Olberg, Development Officer for iRespond.

The term “disruptive innovation” was coined by Harvard’s Clayton Christensen to describe a process by which a product or service is introduced at the bottom of a market and then moves up the value chain and eventually displaces established competitors or non-consumption. I know that the term is often misapplied. I believe that it fits both of the organizations who presented this month.

SHI December audience

Over 100 people attended the event, including investors, entrepreneurs, healthcare providers, payers, researchers, developers, and allied health professionals.

HopeCentral is a new pediatric and behavioral health primary care practice located in Southeast Seattle. This area is home to several minority and  immigrant communities speaking dozens of languages. It includes  “working poor” families ineligible for Medicaid but who cannot afford health insurance. HopeCentral is using an innovative business model based on a  sliding scale monthly subscription rather than the traditional pay for procedure model. Concierge medicine was originally for affluent patients who didn’t need health insurance and who wanted more time with providers than the routine 7 minute timeslots.  By applying this model in an economically challenged area, HopeCentral hopes to create a sustainable institution that multiplies the impact of charitable donations by blending it with subscription revenue.

iRespond is a Seattle-based international non-profit with a biometric authentication and data collection system suitable for use in remote parts of the world.  It uses fingerprint and iris scanners to assign a unique identifier to a person. This makes the platform ideal for public health applications, such as tracking immunizations, disaster response, and long term population health management. It does not replace Master Patient Index solutions- it augments them with a unique identifier that can be associated with demographic and clinical profiles maintained in other systems. Their secure patient database can be used off the grid and then synched when back in contact with wireless networks.

Michael Olberg described iRespond’s project with the government of Sierra Leone where an entirely new infrastructure is being designed to support telemedicine applications.  The disruption here is to compete with non-consumption, extending services to untapped markets.

This holiday event was not all panel discussion, of course. There was plenty of opportunity to network with an amazingly diverse set of people, many of whom are working on fascinating projects. Seattle is increasingly becoming a center for health innovation and the possibilities for leveraging Seattle’s talent and world-class institutions in 2014 are bright.

Ed at meetup

Ed Butler is a founder of the Seattle Health Innovation Forum

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