The man who oversees the world's largest innovation trade show wants healthcare to break free from a stifling industry environment. Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, which produces the International CES, told attendees at the mHealth Summit in Washington, D.C., that the intersection of consumer healthcare and innovative technology is "absolutely critical."
In a keynote address on Dec. 4, Shapiro said innovation is being muted 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, 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; revamp the outmoded patent system; stop incentivizing doctors for choosing more expensive drugs; amend Obamacare to eliminate new taxes on healthcare innovations; speed up the FDA's review process; and modify the nation's immigration policy from a lottery-based system to one that rewards creative minds.
"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 Shapiro 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 emphasized.
Perhaps Ninja innovation.