PODCAST: Fine art and healthcare–a conversation with David St Clair, MeDecision

A while back I got a rather unusual email from MEDecision– an interesting tech company I’ve interviewed before on THCB. It was actually quoting their CEO David St Clair who’d just seen Malcom Gladwell and it said this:

Picasso was able to produce his greatest masterpieces by the time he was in his
mid-twenties. After that, it seems the quality of his output leveled off, or may
have even dipped a bit. Cezanne was kind of the opposite. He learned from
trial-and-error and leveraged a half-century of life experience, development and
growth to create his best art after the age of 50. I think Mr. Gladwell is dead-on in his assessment that
proposals to fix our health care system can be categorized as taking either
Picasso or Cezanne approaches. Like Picasso, a lot of folks are focused on
finding that one, major, “big bang” idea that will comprehensively solve every
problem. While this methodology may work in certain circumstances (it certainly
worked for Picasso for awhile), I have to agree with Mr. Gladwell that health
care is far too large and complex a system for us to realistically think that
some monumental “burst of innovation” is going to cure its every ill and set it
back on course. No, my money is on the Cezanne approach. After 20 years in the
health information technology business, I truly feel that there isn’t a single
magical solution – even if Michael Moore seems to think there is. It’s got to be
a lot of little solutions building momentum toward larger, system-wide reform.
And we need to engage as many people as we can in the process and give them the
means and resources they need to keep trying new approaches that might work.
Like Cezanne, we need to build on our experiences and develop and grow our ideas
before we can expect the masterpiece to emerge.

As you might imagine, I’m not a fan of incremental piecemeal change in health care, even though I’m not in complete agreement with Michael Moore–whatever certain of my readers might think. And it’s not often that a health care tech company CEO goes off the tech-only reservation (so to speak)  So yesterday I had a long chat with David. It certainly was spirited, and I hope you’ll be interested in the outcome!

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