Are we stuck in a digital cul de sac?

MLF pic

Disruptive Women UK will be launching Tuesday, September 30th in the House of Commons. This post is a part of a series running up to the launch welcoming Disruptive Women UK.

In the UK we have a problem. The big digital movers and shakers – Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Amazon and many others – were founded in America. We are stuck in a cultural cul-de-sac. There are no easy answers as to why the UK does not have the digital confidence of the US, but we must do our best to tackle our low digital self-esteem. One reason is location. The UK is a test-bed for American companies before they go into other markets in Europe. Innovation from US companies is tried out in the UK at the earliest stage. When Google tests a game here before it goes international, it stamps out home grown innovation. My second observation would be about the dominance of the BBC. I believe it is a phenomenal organisation but a great deal of digital innovation in the UK has happened inside the corporation. It is impressive that the BBC develops something as good as the iPlayer so I would argue that this national institution is perhaps our best scale tech business – this presents interesting challenges as well as opportunities.

There are basic structural difficulties with digital development. In the UK we are not especially ambitious entrepreneurs and this is true in the digital world. While the number of startups indexes well with other countries, growing them into global billion pound companies is rare. (more…)

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The Best Innovations Come in ‘Human Size’

Jenny-Hyatt--003Disruptive Women UK will be launching Tuesday, September 30th in the House of Commons. This post is a part of a series running up to the launch welcoming Disruptive Women UK.

Recently, I was at TEDMED 2014 in San Francisco where game changers turned their minds to the future of science and humanity. Not even that famous fog could dampen the atmosphere, warmed by the sparks flying from ‘out of the box’ thinking.

The world of health care breeds innovative thinkers, radicals, people who see and act to ‘make things better.’ So why is health care so often not a place of change, but a place of stasis? Why do large health care systems praise innovation, yet struggle to adopt at scale the radical changes that are needed?

Change can be disorientating, and large systems can suffer from structural barriers to innovation that are hard to break through. And while, with resolve and vision, these can be tackled it is much harder to bring about change that requires a shift in power. (more…)

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Iowa Accountability Program’s Judicial Training Institute Aims at Improving the Handling of Domestic Violence Cases

iapDomestic violence is an epidemic that impacts an estimated 6,000 Iowans each year. While many view domestic violence as a private issue, Kimberly Baxter, Director of the Iowa Accountability Program, identifies how domestic violence is truly a community concern: “Domestic violence affects everyone from service providers to families and the community at large. We need to address domestic violence as a community. Brutality behind closed doors is not only real, but also taboo. It is not something we want to discuss, but if we cannot discuss it, how can we address it? How can we mitigate it?” For nearly ten years the Iowa Accountability Program (IAP) has worked to assist victims of domestic violence and the communities in Iowa that support them. This year, the IAP aims to strengthen its impact through its new Judicial Training Institute. (more…)

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Another Innovator! Kate Rocks!

kate millikenI love it when I find innovators and it’s my pleasure to introduce you another one, Kate Milliken. I never actually met Kate, but I saw her project on the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo and sought her out for this blog.

For those who don’t know, crowdfunding is an opportunity to contribute relatively small amounts of money to creative, energetic, (more…)

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Lava Mae

The United Nations states that access to sanitation is a basic human right.  Yet, in the United States the homeless are often forced to go without access to showers. San Francisco is a prime example of this deficit where there are only 16-20 showers to service an estimated 4,500 homeless person population. Today, DW interviews Donnice Sandoval, creator of Lava Mae, a sustainable mobile shower for the homeless in San Francisco. She shows us that sometimes it truly is the simple things that are the most disruptive. 

How were you inspired to create Lava Mae?

Homelessness is an issue I’ve cared about for a long time. I live in a neighborhood that was once predominately middle class African American families. The dramatic gentrification that has overtaken the city has changed that. We’ve watched too many of our neighbors move from their homes to their cars and then the street. I wracked my brain for what we could do but could never figure out how to end or stem the tide of rising homelessness. Then one day I passed a young woman on the street who was homeless and crying, feeling that she’d never be clean. (more…)

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Tech Will Transform the Doctor-Patient Relationship

The doctor-patient relationship lies at the heart of much Western thinking about health. But only a few centuries ago, most people in the UK never saw a doctor.

During the 19th century, the greatest strides in health and life expectancy came from improvements in nutrition, sewerage and water supply rather than the medics. But by the 20th century, doctors were much better informed about how to treat and prevent a number of illnesses. (more…)

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I’m Innovating My Brains Out Over Here

It's MeI was watching an episode of the sitcom Modern Family on TV the other day and one of the subplots was about one of the kids, Luke, trying to invent the next great kitchen innovation. Among his attempts are a toaster that butters and toasts simultaneously, the coffee-bot (never fully explained), and a self-flipping pancake whose mechanism of action is embedded popcorn. Phil lauds his son’s entrepreneurial spirit and zest for innovation.

And why wouldn’t he? Innovation is everywhere these days and if you haven’t got an innovation initiative at your corporation or an investment strategy that supports is, you are so five minutes ago. Unfortunately the term “innovation” has become synonymous with the term “entrepreneurship” and, while often related, they are not the same thing. Innovation means the creation of something new and different. (more…)

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Woman To Watch 2014: Kenda West


Kenda West knows how to create change through innovation. As the Chief Operating Officer of Voalte, Kenda works to build true care coordination by creating products health care workers need and use. Check out our interview with Kenda, as we catch up with this Disruptive Woman to Watch.

What have you been up to since we last checked in?

In February, Voalte received a significant investment of $36 million from Bedford Funding. This begins a very important and exciting next chapter for us, as it solidifies our position as the market leader in mobile communication for health care, and allows us to continue to (more…)

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Eliminating Telehealth Policy Barriers

Robin Strongin

We’ve learned from television commercials that you can pick up your e-book reader, punch a button on the touch screen and instantly see a live person appear in front of you to walk you through any technical problems you have with your device.  TV advertising also reminds us that, if your newer model car breaks down, you’re just a click away from speaking with someone who can diagnose your automobile’s problems from hundreds of miles away and send immediate assistance to your location.

These wireless advancements that make our lives more convenient can’t help but beg the question, though – why aren’t we moving just as rapidly to use digital technologies to make ourselves healthier? (more…)

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It is Always About the Patient

Lisa-Nicole DanehyBeing a federal employee involves having an elegant combination of thick skin and a fierce dedication to the mission of your organization. Luckily for me, the mission of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) is to “improve health and health care for all Americans through use of information and technology”. As far as mission statements, it doesn’t get much better than having a positive and constructive impact on people’s lives. This work isn’t easy, and frankly can sometimes feel like being Sisyphus, but the challenges only keep us more centered and focused in implementing policy, keeping patients at the center of care.

While the dry language of policy itself may feel impersonal, the application of it is certainly not. It is often up to the people in the field (doctors, nurses, administrators, etc) to interpret how (more…)

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A Key Ingredient to Digital Health Care Engagement: The Modify Factor

Steph Habif headshot (2)How to design for health care engagement has become the most talked about design challenge in the United States. Across all industries – technology, government, advertising, medicine, etc. – resources are being poured into ways to better engage health care consumers.  The use of technology to reach consumers – the field of digital health – is one of the biggest market trends. According to a Rock Health Report, in 2013 $1.97 billion was invested in digital health startups, $120 million of which was invested in consumer engagement. Furthermore, digital health funding more than doubled between 2013 and 2014 according to this report.

How is this funding relected at the consumer level? Well, it may be too soon to know, but if the digital wearables space is any indication of what’s really happening, consumers seem interested in the adoption of technology, but they have a hard time integrating it into their daily life.  In fact, studies show that  while 1  in 10 consumers own a digital wearable device, 50% of those consumers no longer use it and 1/3 stopped within the first six months (source: ‘Inside Wearables’ white paper, Endeavour Partners).  Even though market projections say digital wearables will continue to boom – “more than 17 million wearable devices, including smart watches and (more…)

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The Quantified Person Is Becoming the System CEO

Cyndy NayerThe race to the wearables, which can track steps, food, heart rate, blood pressure, sleep, glucose, even heart arrhythmias, is front and center at the intersection of health and data. For those of us who are data-driven, it gives us at-the-moment motivation to do better, go farther, eat healthier or sleep better (this last one is a bit harder, I admit). For us data junkies, it provides the opportunity to graph, share and compete against others (not me) or against our selves (oh yes!) to achieve better health on a daily basis.

But what wearables also do is teach the person the first steps to value in health. By putting data on our selves that can be accessed throughout the day, we receive ready enforcement for all the good that we can perform. The next step is to take what we learn and build competency in purchasing goods and services for our health. In other words, we become our own advocates for demanding better health care, including price, experience, outcomes and transparency. We need to purchase outcomes, whether they are self-motivated (wearable) or cash/insurance transactions. (more…)

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Talking About My (Innovation) Generation: Dr. Roberta Ness on How to Be an Innovator

Janice Lynch Schuster

Raymond Carver once titled a collection of short fiction, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. Indeed, when it comes to that emotion, we talk as if we all meant the same thing, yet we seldom do.

The same is true when we talk about innovation, a buzzword in business, industry, medicine, and government. We toss it around, and are all eager to have innovation everywhere. But what do we really mean? And why does it matter?

Fostering innovation matters, says Roberta Ness, MD, MPH, if we are to solve (and survive) major public health threats of our time: climate change, obesity, infectious disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and health disparities. And defining the term is important to knowing what it is we mean. Ness says that one common definition, that innovation is creativity with a use, proves to be problematic. (more…)

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Alexa Café: iD Tech’s First All-Girls Summer Camp

As a Regional Manager at iD Tech, the world’s #1 summer tech program for kids and teens, I often find myself very proud of the work that our company does.  For example, we inspire thousands of kids every year to Do Something Big in the world of tech, with over 170,000 students enrolled during the past 16 years.  Oh, and then there’s the thousands of trees we plant each year through our One Camper, One Tree initiative. We’ve already sowed the seeds for 75,000 trees and expect to plant 35,000 more in 2014 alone! (more…)

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Man of the Month Revisited: Dr. William Cohn

Photo Courtesy of Houstonian Magazine

Last week, we honored medical heart technologist, surgeon, and  innovator Dr. William Cohn as our man of the month. This week, he sat down with us to chat a bit  more about what he has been up to and new advances in the field of medical innovation.

How did you become interested in the intersection of technology and health care?

I’ve always been attracted to the vibe of heart surgery. It seems like the ultimate gig: it combines my passion for innovation and working in health. Growing up in Houston, I had an older brother who was very brilliant and into science. In our garage, we had a lab set up, where we made explosives, lasers, (more…)

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