Innovating to Transform Healthcare

Innovating to Transform Healthcare

April 23, 2014

One of the great ways in which the Gary and Mary West Health Institute (WHI) is innovating to transform healthcare is through a unique program at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). First established in 2012, the Innovator-in-Residence (IIR) position was developed so that non-governmental agencies could collaborate with HHS to help tackle some of the biggest challenges in government and healthcare.

As a medical device entrepreneur and alumnus of the Stanford Design School, I've been a WHI-sponsored IIR since November 2013. Over the last five months, I've been working with a team of amazing, passionate collaborators across HHS and with other innovators outside of the government.

The crux of my work has been focused on exploring ideas and furthering innovation in two areas of healthcare - complex chronic disease management for home-bound elders and corporate wellness. In both areas, I'm researching innovative solutions to improve patient engagement, while delivering more efficient care.

One of my potential projects with WHI involves exploring operational efficiencies and reimbursement models of home-based primary care programs for the frail elderly. These models are very relevant in today's context, since they address the frail elderly who comprise a small percent of the population, but account for a significant share of healthcare costs. Using a team-based primary care approach, these models provide the right care at the right time, and have the potential to save healthcare costs while positively impacting patient outcomes.

I'm also working closely with the IDEA team at HHS and the Federal Occupational Health (FOH) agency, which provides occupational health and wellness services exclusively to federal employees, to research new approaches to corporate wellness. Through "Project Boundary," we're researching an indoor ecosystem comprised of proximity beacons, and are testing whether providing context-appropriate triggers to users via their cellphones could encourage healthy behaviors within the workplace.

For example, by sensing your presence as you wait near an elevator, our ecosystem could let you know that you should take the stairs by sending you a push notification on your phone. We could further reward you for having done so and help gamify this interaction in ways that might be beneficial to employee health. We hope to kick off a small pilot project at HHS in May, and showcase our early results.

As you can see, it's a fun time to be an IIR; I'm enjoying applying my entrepreneurial experience and background to help the government think differently about complex healthcare problems. Hopefully, it will have the impact we're all seeking.

Through this and subsequent blog posts I'll share my learnings and insights from these projects and others in which I'm involved. In the meantime, if you are interested in learning more about these research projects or have suggestions on other topics to explore/ collaborate on - write to me at nvmurty@westhealth.org

Stay engaged. Stay healthy!

Nag Murty
West Health Institute Innovator in Residence