Boom, Boom – What Healthcare Leaders Can Learn From The Dot Com Era

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1994 — I was a budding journalist when something called the Information Superhighway began getting considerable mainstream attention. The TV commercial below was running at the time and made the little understood concept more mysteriously inviting.

By 1999, I was co-hosting a tech program in Silicon Valley where speculation about how the Internet could change our world was a constant topic.

“What do you make of predictions that my Palm Pilot will become an interactive phone? Why would I want a camera built in?”

“Can you predict the direction of interest rates based on the size of Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan’s briefcase and the direction of equities by the state of CNBC host Maria Bartiromo’s hair?”

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(Credit: The Maria Bartiromo Hairdex)

A business analyst expressed doubt that “what goes up must come down” any longer. Really, he did.

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2014 — We carry smartphones everywhere – they’re not made by Palm – and, yes, a phone is built-in. Greenspan – whether he consulted his briefcase or Bartiromo’s stylist – was right about one thing: our exuberance was irrational.

Today it’s a pleasure to be witnessing a new revolution – This time in healthcare and, as a result, healthcare IT.  What can be learned and what are the differences between the two eras?

In a recent conversation Netsmart’s executive team spent time discussing what is different this time around…boom boom.

“Hype versus hope.” Netsmart Chief Operating Officer Tom Herzog answers. By extension, he explains, technology was a market, whereas healthcare is a community. If you take out the personal component – if you remove the “care” from healthcare – you’ll have neither credibility nor clients.

Netsmart Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ian Chuang separates the 1990’s financial boom with the boom in innovation. “Some of those innovations carry forward and are driving some of the innovations in healthcare IT…the innovation will be a value from a healthcare impact.” That kind of thinking is in stark contrast to the conventional “wisdom” of 15 years ago.

“The dot com boom was based on an illusion of how economics works,” says Netsmart Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Denny Morrison, Ph.D.

This boom, however, will require that patients think more like tech consumers. “You probably know how much you paid for your cell phone last month. How much did you pay for healthcare?” asks Herzog.

There is one truth that spans history. As Morrison notes in a rear-view glance, “The winners were the ones that had real products and real markets.”  The winners of today will have real products implemented with true care.