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Keeley Wray

Is healthcare IT ready to grow up? (N Kasp/Wikimedia commons)

As I read more about the Millennials, the generation to which I myself belong, I’m starting to see a connection between their attitude toward the world and the problems plaguing healthcare IT, an industry I research for a living.

Millennials (by one definition, people born between 1981 and 2000) tend to perceive greatness as something that is inherent, not acquired. This fallacy comes in part from the coddling we were given as young people. Millennials received trophies just for participating. Thanks to grade inflation in college, we could sleep through classes and still earn a B. We were told we were special: Success came to us simply by showing up.

This type of attitude leads to inevitable discouragement post-college, when Millennials are faced with challenges they haven’t been prepared to handle. Jobs aren’t handed out just because the applicant has a degree, but instead require connections or specialized skills or experience, and once in those jobs, success doesn’t come automatically. When he doesn’t face immediate success, the Millennial assumes that he’s “different” than the successful people, and attributes the failure to an intrinsic, unchangeable quality rather than faulty methods. Full story »

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The Gutenberg press disseminated ideas to a wider society. But in the clinical world, much information is still on "lockdown." (Wikimedia Commons)

The best things in life are free: friends, sunny days, beautiful vistas. Wouldn’t it be nice if knowledge were also free? Historically, libraries promulgated knowledge sharing because it was for the public good. We see this spirit increasingly embraced on the Internet – take the recent announcement of a collaboration between Harvard and MIT to make their courses freely available to users around the world via the edX platform.

But have we made all useful knowledge available in a way that allows for the greatest societal advancement? Not really. According to Ken Mandl, MD, MPH, director of the Intelligent Health Laboratory at the Children’s Hospital Informatics Program (CHIP), one important source of information still on lockdown is clinical trial data. In an article called, “Learning from Hackers: Open-Source Clinical Trials” published this month in Science Translational Medicine (not currently available in full text), Mandl and his coauthors call for making raw, de-identified clinical trial data free to the public. Full story »

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Can we get this family to function? (Photo: eyeliam/Flickr)

My summary of BioPharm America 2011: We are a family and we just need to work together. As stakeholders in developing new treatments, we each have our own shortfalls and strengths, we’re under pressure, and our roles are changing over time.

Here’s the panelists’ take on the different players.

Big pharma: The old business model is broken. Pharma is cutting R&D and other programs that aren’t generating enough return. Companies now approach markets differently, said Angus Russell, CEO of Shire. A new product doesn’t have to be a first-line therapy to justify market entry; there’s a business case for selling a targeted drug to patients who don’t respond to generics and have no other solution. Full story »

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A mobile developer at work (Jennifer 8 Lee/Flickr)

Keeley Wray (@Market_Spy) is technology marketing specialist at Children’s Hospital Boston’s Technology and Innovation Development Office. Her post first appeared on Hospital Impact and is re-posted here with kind permission.

My role at Children’s Hospital Boston is to determine market entry strategies to transform the innovative ideas our physicians come up with into nifty products.

Increasingly, this includes valuing new mobile applications. There are sets of questions I like to ask inventors (and myself) to determine whether a product is worth investing resources in. Given the limited resources available to develop new applications, it’s important to know whether an application will provide value to patients, within our institution and externally, and (a harder question) whether it could be commercially viable. Several commercial barriers tend to come up repeatedly, such as security challenges, limited market size, or difficulty integrating applications with EMR systems.

That’s why this question list has served me well–and maybe it will you. Full story »

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Kola nut (cola acuminata) from Köhler's medicinal plants, 1887 (via trialsanderrors/Flickr)

It’s widely acknowledged that the pharmaceutical industry is in crisis. Pharma companies are seeing drugs coming off patent, competition from generics, diminished R&D success and increased cost pressures, all of which are contributing to the downfall of the blockbuster drug era. Various solutions have been proposed, including creating shared knowledge repositories to learn from failures and pairing treatments with companion biomarkers.

These solutions and others have merit. But I’d propose more emphasis on what I consider a major failing of the industry: the inability to effectively commercialize naturally derived compounds possessing therapeutic benefit.

Pharmaceutical companies have typically avoided naturally derived compounds because it is difficult to keep competitors out of the territory. Legislation such as the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act prohibits market exclusivity for natural compounds with known chemical compositions. Full story »

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Photo: fdecomite/Flickr

What do you invest in if you’re a venture capitalist looking for the next big thing? I’d invest in a company that makes it easy to create your own healthcare mobile apps. Think: the WordPress of health care applications.

I believe this is an important unmet need in medicine. As a market analyst specializing in healthcare IT, I’ve supported physicians who have an idea for an application and are trying to make it a reality. Their goals vary widely, ranging from improved communication with patients to enhanced health data analytics for decision support to streamlined workflow using administrative shortcuts.

All of these disparate ideas face a common bottleneck: the physician’s inability to quickly embody an idea as a software prototype. Full story »

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(alikins/Flickr)

The recent Bio-IT World meeting featured some exciting forecasts about disruptive healthcare advances from advanced computing technology. We’re closer than ever to process streamlining, artificial intelligence and combining the best ideas from other industries. Many themes I like to blog about — clinical decision support, data visualization, patient-entered health data — were addressed provocatively in the talks. Here are some trends I’m watching.

•    New data visualization systems will increase scientific productivity. Keynote speaker Bryn Roberts of Hoffmann-La Roche demoed a futuristic, multi-touch tool for reviewing and designing compound molecules, Full story »

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Photo: Paul Anderson/Creative Commons

The term disruptive innovation – introduced by Harvard Business School’s Clayton Christensen in a 1995 article  — has been used by technology-development stakeholders to describe radical innovations and their implications for market entry strategies. Christensen describes the term on his website:

“An innovation that is disruptive allows a whole new population of consumers access to a product or service that was historically only accessible to consumers with a lot of money or a lot of skill.”

Last week I heard Christensen speak at an event hosted by Vodafone, Full story »

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What would Leonardo da Vinci devote his energy to if he were alive today? I am pretty sure that he would be at a hospital. He would take advantage of data of all types — genetic, vital signs, symptoms — all streaming from patients like notes on sheet music, to seek a better understanding of the human person. And likely he would present this information in a way that appeals to the senses, drawing us to examine the information landscape and revealing the action steps we need to take to improve human health.

da Vinci’s sketch book drawings investigated human physiology to the extent that was possible in his time. da Vincis of our day, with more sophisticated tools, are poised to understand the human body at a new level. I can imagine Leonardo delighting at the level of granularity offered by our technology — the sequencing of the genetic code, for example. He would want to make sense of this information. I imagine that he’d be studying informatics and techniques for graphic visualization of data to support his quest to portray human physiology. Full story »

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Credit: D'Arcy Norman/Flickr

A pregnant woman wants to monitor her baby’s activity in response to the foods she eats. She takes her smart phone, plugs in an ultrasound adapter and takes readings after every meal. She logs the contents of her meal and presto! Pattern recognition software tells her that her baby is unfavorably sensitive to dairy. Through a personally controlled portal, she remotely loads the information to her hospital’s electronic medical record system, for review by an allergist at the time the baby is born.

A man with a diabetic foot ulcer takes home two different topical creams. He takes daily pictures of the ulcer, and using image processing algorithms, Full story »

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