Building a System to Break Down Barriers | Steven Collens | MATTER

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The Future of Health Podcast

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Our thesis on where healthcare is going is not that entrepreneurs are going to come along and blow up the industry. We do not believe doctors are going to become irrelevant and payers are going to go out of business and things like that […] but entrepreneurs will play a hugely important role in both the efficiency and the effectiveness of healthcare.

MATTER is a Chicago-based community of healthcare innovators. According to CEO Steven Collens, who came by the podcast booth at Health:Further ’17, MATTER was built not exactly to create something new, but to connect the people who are.

Steven notes that Chicago has “proably the biggest collection of healthcare expertise and assets […] of anywhere in the country.” The problem? “Until recently we hadn’t been able to bring together [those resources] to facilitate healthcare innovation in a meaningful way.”

MATTER, therefore, works on the thesis that everyone needs everyone else. As Steven puts it, entrepreneurs need established industry players to be involved in their work from day one, to help guide and inform the product development process. What good is a product if it’s not what the purchaser or end user needs, right?

On the other side of the equation,

“Big companies and big hospital systems are looking for solutions and looking for innovation and generally understand that their wiring isn’t optimized for rapid innovation in the same way entrepreneurs are.”

Further more,

“there’s an understanding that most of those solutions aren’t going to be built internally by these folks.”

So, the trick is to get industry and entrepreneurs talking with each other with a collaborative attitude and realistic expectations. Going back to the quote that opened this article, Steven made it clear that the healthcare system needs a lot of work, but it’s not going to be demolished and rebuilt. Entrepreneurs shouldn’t expect to change the world by starting from the ground up. They should expect to work within the existing system, which is moving towards a value-based care model, and creating products that will increase “efficiency and effectiveness.” Less sexy, maybe, but more realistic and useful.

Again looking at the other side, there’s also an opportunity for entrepreneurs to work with and encourage established industry people towards innovation. Rather than holding healthcare companies in distain for being slow and old — or, conversely, looking down on entrepreneurs for being unrealistic and too risky — the attitude should be one of recognizing the strengths of the other side and collaborating with an eye towards a shared goal. Ultimately, the term “other side” shouldn’t even be part of the conversation, since everyone is allied in pursuit of a healthier society and more effective healthcare system.

MATTER is one of the premier organizations working to help this process along. We see a similar attitude and effort in the crew at Prime Health and Catalyst HTI in Denver. It’s easy to talk about collaboration, easy to make it a worthless buzzword. However, these organizations are making it happen through a combination of an optimistic attitude that the problems can be solved and an investment of real resources (e.g., physical space and educational programming, among other things) into fixing them.

Check out the whole episode and let us know what you think.

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