One in a series of interviews that should have been posted months ago, but Matthew Holt is just getting to now.
Alan Pitt is an old friend of the family at Health 2.0. He’s a Professor of Neuroradiology at Barrow Neurological Institute, and now the Chief Medical Officer of Avizia. He has been working with patient-provider collaboration tools for several years now, and previously co-founded Excelsius Robotics (now acquired by Globus Medical).
Avizia spun off from Cisco in 2013. Now it provides a collaboration technology services to hospitals. Recently, Avizia secured $11m in Series A funding to expand their telehealth platform. Back in February at HIMSS, Matthew Holt interviewed Alan to see what the patient-provider platform looks like.
Priya Kumar is an Intern at Health 2.0, and a student at George Washington University
Several years ago both Microsoft and Google invested millions of dollars on a flawed assumption: If they built a useful and free healthcare application, people would flock to it. In both cases, the effort failed. At its peak Microsoft HealthVault was only able to enroll a few thousand—largely inactive—users. Google Health was discontinued after a few years.
The problem was (and is) that unlike almost any other business, healthcare is a negative good.
Even if it’s “free,” as was the case with both the Microsoft and Google offerings, most people find tracking their health to be, in some sense, an admission of frailty, imperfection and mortality. Except for occasional blips related more to vanity (weight loss is the prime example), when it comes to our health most of us are in denial. So when people talk about technology for patient engagement, I tend to pause and wonder: Should we be building apps and services just for patients, or for the people who care about them too?
In 1985 I had the good fortune to study in Sweden. I made many good friends and loved the natural beauty. I also learned a lot about healthcare in what is essentially a socialist country.
Sweden was (and is) by no means perfect. Progressive taxation had disincentivized hard work leading to something of a brain drain. Many of the physicians I met were looking to emigrate. On the flip side, Swedish healthcare was accessible and high quality. The government viewed healthcare as a responsibility and right rather than an option. The relatively small and homogeneous population (8 million in 1985) allowed central planning. On the campus of the Karolinska Institute, their version of the NIH, there were regional specialty hospitals: a hospital for the heart, the G.I. tract, the nervous system, etc.
This contrasts with American healthcare where hospitals offer specialty services on nearly every corner. Here in Phoenix, a patient with cancer can choose from Banner / MD Anderson, Mayo Clinic, Dignity Health / UA Cancer Center, and Cancer Treatment Centers of America, along with several other institutes. How did such choice come about? As a nation, we hold certain truths to be self-evident. Near the top of the list, we believe competition is a good thing. In just about every business open markets lead to higher quality goods and services and ever decreasing prices. Right? So how come on almost every measure Swedish healthcare trumps the American system? Sweden spends half as much per capita