Our first interview is with Seattle-based C-SATS, Inc., a venture-backed healthcare technology company on a mission to empower the nation’s 16 million healthcare workers and institutions to assess and improve their performance continuously, accurately and objectively.
Based on technology developed at the University of Washington by a team of surgeons, engineers and biostatisticians, C-SATS’ performance management system utilizes a unique combination of distributed experts and other reviewers available 24/7 from the Internet to assess healthcare professionals’ technical performance with accuracy equivalent to current gold standards…but at 80+% savings in cost and time to results.
We spoke with Derek Streat, C-SATS Co-founder and CEO.
When you think about digital health innovation for the healthcare industry and its institutions, what stage or part of the cycle are we in?
We’re still very early. Only within the last five years has the healthcare industry gotten around to thinking purposefully about patient experience. In most other industries, it’s standard operating procedure to surprise and delight your customers. We’re early with respect to technology enablement and platforms as well. The electronic health records and other systems that house the immense data generated about patients are still largely proprietary and closed. Interoperability is still a significant barrier to things like well-coordinated care, even within a single institution, because the systems are fundamentally built to stay closed and preserve legacy monopolies.
Why doesn’t digital health innovation take hold faster in the healthcare industry?
One reason is the entrenched, closed-technology systems and infrastructure, making switching costs very high. A heightened sensitivity to privacy, security, compliance, and regulation erects barriers and costs as well. Health systems don’t just throw a new application in front of patients, and for good reason: the stakes are incredibly high. And if you’re more risk averse, you’ll move slower. Finally, the economic models in healthcare are sufficiently broken that startups, often the source of scrappy innovation in other industries, have a harder time. That’s because those receiving value (patients) are disconnected from those who pay for it (think insurance). If it’s difficult to get paid for your product or service, and you’re a small startup, it’s tough to find the runway necessary to nurture true innovation.
Aside from the work of C-SATS, is there a digital health innovation you are most excited about?
I’m most excited about the promise to bring trust to healthcare. I believe trust is the key because it leads to respect, understanding, and action among all stakeholders, from providers to health systems to patients. Trust will come through highly actionable insights derived from three areas: growing data sets, such as precision medicine; open systems to keep all parties informed of patient needs and care, for example, interoperable, cloud-based EMRs; and continuous monitoring and feedback loops to ensure excellent work, which is our business at C-SATS.