Creating the Tipping Point for Digital Health Adoption

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Investors showered digital health companies with a record $14.7 billion in just the first half of 2021, already more than was raised in all of 2020. Investors recognize that digital health can transform healthcare delivery. The challenge, as discussed at the recent MedCity INVEST Digital Health virtual conference, is convincing players in the healthcare industry to adopt digital solutions.

Not surprising. Healthcare is notoriously slow in broadly diffusing even lifesaving, proven, evidence-based practices. Although not empirically confirmed, research suggests it takes about 17 years for widespread adoption of a practice or treatment after the first systematic evidence shows it helps patients. Scholars and major academic medical centers now study implementation science and “innovation as a discipline” to quicken the discovery-to-trial-to-operationalize-to-disseminate-broadly process.

There must be a way to speed things up.

Remember Malcolm Gladwell’s heralded book The Tipping Point? Published in 2000, his explanation for how and why “social epidemics” occur catapulted him to best seller lists, the talk-show circuit, and a career of similar semi-analytical, observational sociology books and podcasts.

His theory for how “social epidemics” and modern change can occur suddenly revolves around “The Law of the Few” -- three types of people in society who can catapult little-known products or business ventures to omnipresence or market dominance. Briefly:

“Connectors” know lots of people from across “all the different worlds and subcultures and niches and levels” so they have “the special gift of bringing people together.”

“Mavens … from the Yiddish meaning one who accumulates knowledge,” are active, aggressive pursuers of information about the marketplace and, more importantly, they are educators with a passion to share that information to help others. What sets Mavens apart, according to Gladwell, is “the fact that Mavens want to help, for no other reason than because they like to help,” which is a highly effective approach to gaining credibility, trust and attention.

And “Salesmen” who have overt and subliminal characteristics and talents that influence people and an innate ability to persuade.

In today’s social-media-megaphone world where everyone is connected, professional “influencers” abound, and products, statements or incidents can become loved or infamous worldwide in minutes, Gladwell’s concepts could be dismissed as quaint, old-fashioned and no longer relevant.

However, given the relative snail’s pace of best-practice dissemination in healthcare, and given the potential of digital health to transform and improve healthcare delivery, it is helpful and hopeful to revisit Gladwell’s basic tenants of how society connects, shares and disseminates. Gladwell’s catalyst, The Law of the Few, has been created for digital health through Marché Health’s marketplace.

Marché not only establishes and enables connection but brings Connectors together from across all sectors in healthcare and the digital innovation space to find solutions and each other.

As a Maven, Marché’s purpose is to make information widely available about digital products and services and the needs of healthcare providers, payers and other stakeholders. The platform provides unbiased information pulled from across all available sources, robust and relevant data, reviews and buyer feedback, and assistance with the Byzantine health system procurement and acquisition process.

Like Gladwell’s Mavens, Marché’s goal is to help all participants on the platform - through connection, knowledge transfer, and transparency - find digital solutions and advance health system transformation with the ultimate purpose of advancing the quadruple aim: better patient care outcomes, lower cost, and improved patient and clinician experience.

The similarity with Gladwell ends there. The Marché platform is a neutral, impartial convener allowing the digital health marketplace to organically evolve, advance and progress -- hopefully creating the tipping point to speed innovation, disseminate best practices, and improve patient care far more quickly than ever before.

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