Healthcare Crowdfunding Gets Hatched: Passion is the Possibility of Health Tech Hatch

Fund next year’s Post-it notes. You can. Through crowdfunding; which seems to have become one of the market’s hottest concepts.

There are other crowdfunding platforms available to the philanthropic among us who wish to contribute to the greater good however we can. Among them is the well-know mainstream effort known as Kickstarter. Then there’s Medstartr, the crowdfunder focused explicitly on healthcare products.

Enter Health Tech Hatch. Probably the newest kid on the block; perhaps or perhaps not the least well known in the space.

It’s approach to crowdfunding, to “fund next year’s Post-it notes” as it were, is one of the most inspiring I’ve seen on the topic. It’s a simple concept, but there’s a passion behind this one that I haven’t found elsewhere. It conveys to me the possibility that big ideas can become big things, and you, as a passionate supporter of a cause, can take part in the development of the idea for a contribution of a few simple dollars.

Health Tech Hatch is similar to others. Those with an idea can post a project to request funding for a variety of things including apps, programs and other items directed toward the betterment of healthcare as a whole.

Health Tech Hatch, though limited in scope and size, and seemingly with a limited track record for producing fully funded projects (I suspect it’s only a short time before that happens), the service is an effective and needed addition to the crowdfunding landscape. And, the service works exactly like its counterparts: Investors only pay if their project is fully funded, and Hatch works to bring entrepreneurs step by step through the process of finding funding.

Additionally, Hatch defines the process for a successfully funded project, including:

On top of this, Hatch provides for the opportunity to test a campaign, using the experience of its advisory committee, to ensure a project has the best possibility of funding success.

According to Hatch, “Crowdfunding is all about collaboration, pooling resources to support someone else’s efforts … the process is a two-way street: We help entrepreneurs carve out a pathway to present their ideas to the world, while enabling funders to provide feedback, offer moral support and above all, finance next year’s Post-It — in both the for-profit and nonprofit worlds.”

Given the overwhelming amount of attention services like Hatch continue to receive (this site not excluded), it’s apparent that crowdfunding will play an overwhelming role in the development of new technology designed to serve the healthcare community, be it patients or providers. We’re discovering that sometimes taking the lead means we have to get involved. Healthcare technology continues to evolve away from a single provider (vendors) of technology. Individuals want to move the market, and perhaps crowdfunding through sites like Hatch create innovation, and reinforce the concept that big ideas can create big things.

Sites like Hatch help us believe that with a little effort and a little involvement, individuals can actually create the Post-It notes of tomorrow.

Crowd Funding Sites like Medstartr Are Good for All of Us; and May Be Good for Our Health

LogoCrowd funding continues to play big in technology and the star of today continues to be Kickstarter. The site is a funding platform for creative projects including films, games, music, art, design and technology.

According to its site, through it, more than 2.5 million people have pledged more than $350 million to projects posted since 2009 by everyone including company CEOs to hobbyists. Each project is independently created by the person behind it, who have complete control and responsibility over their projects.

If people like the project, they can pledge money to make it happen. If the project succeeds in reaching its funding goal, all backers’ credit cards are charged when time expires. If the project falls short, no one is charged. Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing.

In most cases, the majority of funding comes from the fans and friends of each project. If they like it, they’ll spread the word to their friends, and so on.

Given the scope, there’s an obvious need for something similar in the healthcare space. Hence, it’s good to see MedStartr emerge, a new crowd funding site dedicated solely to the healthcare space.

According to MedStartr, it “is a new way to fund healthcare projects, startups and innovations that improve healthcare and help people live longer, better lives.” Like KickStarter, “MedStartr is powered by an all-or-nothing funding method where projects must be fully-funded or no money changes hands. This makes it so you have no obligations either way if critical mass is not achieved to get to your minimum viable product.”

Medstartr encourages users, such as patients, entrepreneurs, physicians, researchers, nonprofits, artists, filmmakers, musicians, designers, writers, performers and others to drive healthcare forward.

Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t appear that much money has changed hands using MedStartr, even though there is a clear need. For example, of the four successful projects featured on the site, one of them is for the launch of MedStartr. The other three only grossed $23,733. That’s a far cry from some of the projects funded on KickStarter, which reach as highas a few millions dollars.

Okay, so it’s not important that the funding goals are so far apart. In principal, the two sites are competitors, I guess, but they serve much different audiences for the most part. However, given the continuous chatter for improved tech tools the healthcare market needs, and that we’re in the age of do-it-yourself, I surprises me that more people, entrepreneurs and so on, are not using the service.

There are a few apps featured there, and some community events (like conferences), but very few systems or technology that can be used to actually enhance or better healthcare for providers or patients. At least to this point, anyway.

It makes me wonder if MedStartr simply needs to conduct a better PR campaign (call me, I’d be glad to help) or if there’s just not an appetite for micro, crowd-funded project in the healthcare technology space.

There’s a draw, though, and with time there’s a god chance that many good things will come because of the site. Hopefully so. I’d like to see it embraced, and I’d like to see it succeed. If for no other reason than it’s good for all of us, and may be good for our health.

Open Source EHRs Could Revolutionize Healthcare Information Technology

In an effort that could revitalize the EHR space (at least the mainstream market), the Veterans Affairs Department’s classic and still heavily used VistA (Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture) system is getting the open source EHR treatment.

In a move that is revolutionizing other technology sectors — like manufacturing, gaming and the device world and because of the success of such sites as Kickstarter (I know because I represent clients in this space and have seen their success first hand), which is a haven for open source projects, allowing volunteer programmers who are passionate about code and perhaps even passionate about healthcare, is really a pretty swell idea.

From the VA’s perspective, how else could it possibly bring a beleaguered and somewhat bemoaned product like VistA to the modern area after more than 30 years in use? Certainly, the government didn’t seem to have the funds or the necessary experience to overhaul the system by itself.

According to Rick Baker, chief information officer for the VA, even though there is a contract with a firm to make changes to VistA’s code to make it less complex and more readable, the open source community will be involved directly, day to day, with the EHR’s refresh.

The success of involving the open source community in healthcare, and in the development and maintenance of EHRs, is showcased at Oroville Hospital in Northern California, which recently passed on some of the mainstream vendors like McKesson and Meditech for a personalized, customer version of its.

Leaders at the hospital wanted the flexibility to make changes to its EHR system, and they wanted to ensure they received the attention they felt they deserved from their vendor of choice. Ultimately, they wanted total control over the hospital’s electronic health record.

The best solution to the problem for the hospital? Build its own EHR.

In addition to gaining every advantage over the creation and implementation of the home-grown system, Oroville Hospital plans to save a bunch of money by not purchasing a commercial system even though it is building a complete EHR soup to nuts.

The hospital chose to build the system with the help of the same open source folks who are working on the VistA system; the same folks the VA is using to update VistA. Once done, Oroville Hospital’s EHR was even certified for meaningful use and the hospital received more than $5 million in meaningful use incentives.

What all of this seems to suggest is that custom solutions are viable options in a sea of corporate technology offerings. With open source now breaching the professional world of electronic health records, this may only just be beginning of a wave of technology innovation, especially as hospitals and practices seek more efficient solutions and more control of their EHR technology.

Given the time, patience and buy in of leaders, healthcare facilities may be closer to independence than we’re used to in the regulated and oversight-driven world that has become healthcare.