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HHS Selects Initial Healthcare Innovation Workgroup Participants

HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan has named the initial participants for his healthcare innovation workgroup and set Dec. 18 as the date of its first meeting.

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Source: Thinkstock

By Fred Donovan

- HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan announced Nov. 21 the initial core participants for his healthcare innovation workgroup and set Dec. 18 as the date of its first meeting.

The workgroup will be a year-long collaboration between healthcare innovation and investment professionals and HHS personnel who will meet quarterly to discuss the innovation and investment landscape within the healthcare sector, emerging opportunities, barriers to innovation and investment in healthcare, and HHS’s role in encouraging more investment and faster innovation.

“Collaboration between HHS and private sector investors and innovators is critical to advancing new solutions and evolving healthcare in America,” said Hargan. “We believe this will produce new approaches that will improve the health and well-being of the American people. As the healthcare community innovates, HHS must also be innovative in how we engage with that community.”

The initial participants are Sandbox Industries Managing Director Anna Haghgooie, Oak HC/FT Managing Director Annie Lamont, Linden Partners Cofounder and President Anthony Davis, Martis Capital Founder and Managing Partner Barry Uphoff, Flare Capital Cofounder and Partner Bill Geary, UnitedHealthcare Medicare and Retirement CEO Brian Thompson, Northwestern Memorial HealthCare President and CEO Dean Harrison, Francisco Partners Co-President Ezra Perlman, Mayo Clinic Department of Business Development Chair Jim Rogers, Ascension Ventures Senior Managing Director Matt Hermann, New Enterprise Associates Global Health Head Mo Makhzoumi, General Atlantic Managing Director and Healthcare Global Head Robbert Vorhoff, Nautic Partners Managing Director Scott Hilinski, Bessemer Ventures Partner Stephen Kraus, and 3M President and General Manager Todd Fruchterman.

Industry Groups Weigh In On Healthcare Innovation Workgroup

In June, HHS issued a request for information seeking public input about the discussion topics and members of its proposed public-private healthcare innovation and investment workgroup. 

In its comments, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) recommended that the workgroup focus on encouraging clinician engagement in health IT design, bettering patient identification, and bridging the digital divide in healthcare.

“One of the biggest challenges that the workgroup will face is identifying an effective way to incentivize or otherwise promote ongoing, responsible innovation,” said CHIME in its comments.

CHIME recommended that HHS adopt a voluntary set of standards framework for healthcare professionals to use when health IT innovations. This framework should include ethical and cybersecurity considerations in developing technology, as well as involving clinicians and patients early in the development process, streamlining the regulatory vetting process, closing the digital device, identifying patients accurately, and preserving the patient/clinician relationship.

In its comments, the American Medical Association (AMA) shared CHIME’s concern about the need to include healthcare practitioners in the healthcare innovation process. AMA stressed that there is “strong need to ensure that physicians are directly engaged in digital health innovation. Physicians want a voice in developing, selecting, and implementing healthcare technology.”

Without physician input, developers of health innovations and new technologies could introduce design flaws and other problems that would make them less valuable to patients, AMA noted.

“HHS should engage physicians when fostering new, practical, and  innovative approaches in digital health to tackle the complicated challenges facing the healthcare industry,” the association advised.

AMA cited its Physician Innovation Network (PIN) as an example of how physicians can have a positive effect on healthcare innovation. The network, which has 2,400 active physician members, is an online community where companies and entrepreneurs can connect with physicians to get their input in the development of innovative healthcare technologies.

“Through PIN, the AMA is bringing together the healthcare innovation and digital health ecosystem. We are connecting physicians and health tech companies to integrate the physician voice into tech products and solutions in the market,” the association related.

AMA also recommended that HHS provide a “clear outline of what constitutes success” for the workgroup.

“HHS should establish metrics and goals to help measure and identify success. We believe this is an important component in establishing the cadence of stakeholder engagement and will help identify gaps or areas where HHS may need further input,” the group said.


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