Mapping opportunity for Minnesota’s Medical Alley

In a global economy, prosperity rests on productivity, and productivity rests on innovation. Perhaps no other Minnesota business sector, if you measure by patents per worker, has been more innovative than Healthcare. Just as regional powerhouses 3M, Cargill and General Mills expanded to include higher-value processed goods, our approach to Healthcare must similarly evolve. The key to safeguarding the relevancy of our position rests on our collective ability to integrate it with the emerging Digital Health engine gaining momentum locally.

Embracing the potential of Digital Health

Digital Health is generally considered the intersection of Technology, Health, Healthcare and Analytics/Informatics where digital capability is crucial to the value proposition. It occupies one segment in the larger, regional Healthcare business.

Companies operating in the Minnesota Healthcare space don’t have to wait and see what could happen if they fail to integrate with Digital Health. They can look to the rise and fall of computing in Minnesota — best exemplified by Control Data Corporation (mainframes) and Cray Computers (super computers) — for a preview.

In Clayton Christensen’s well-known work “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” he calls examples like the collapse of Control Data and Cray Computers a failure to jump onto a new S-curve. It cost jobs for tens of thousands of skilled workers. Thankfully a new economic Cluster, Healthcare, including the sub-Clusters Medical Device, Providers, Payers, Pharma, etc., became a key engine of prosperity. The question now becomes: How do we reduce the risk of losing this prized Cluster?

Clustering business to boost prosperity

Healthcare in Minnesota has an advantage many competitors lack: Building on demonstrated strengths is easier than beginning from scratch. Relationship cultivation between innovators on every level is key — from open APIs to having drinks together. Only by coupling with existing Healthcare Clusters can the success of Digital Health ventures accelerate and increase the likelihood of long-term staying potential.

We must realize, promote, and seize that special place in time and history that is ours. It’s up to us to leverage the foundation we have, and make critical contributions to our individual and shared prosperity by building on regional progress. Future growth will be driven by how well existing businesses embrace opportunities to evolve together and sustain a viable competitive Cluster.

Embrace opportunities for future learning

Here are ten concrete things you can do now:

  1. Adopt a new mindset — “If not us, then who? When?”
  2. Watch for the top trends in Digital Health — Some of these include: Using analytics to spot economic waste and opportunities for savings. Healthcarehotspotting is a perfect example of this.
  3. Read “The Digital Doctor” by Robert Wachter (healthcare market) and Design for Care by Peter H. Jones (software design in healthcare).
  4. Seek out thought leaders — Attend events like MobCon Digital Health, subscribe to the conference blog, or join the conversation on Twitter(#mobcondh).
  5. Stay up-to-date — Attend a Digital Health meetup every 60 days./li>
  6. Support innovation — Back the Minnesota Digital Health startup economy. If you’re an accredited investor, sign up for the MN Angel Tax Credit, and you receive 25% off your investment.
  7. Hunt for new information, and share it — Bring a friend to any Digital Health events you attend. Post interesting news on your social channels. Forward this article to a friend.
  8. Become a member — Follow the MobCon LinkedIn group for updates on industry news and MobCon Digital Health.
  9. Join LifeScience Alley, a Minnesota-based trade association for medical and health technology.
  10. “Go to the Gemba” — This means, observe at the actual point of care to ground Digital Health innovation in clinical realities.

Here’s a bonus opportunity. If you’ve founded a Digital Health startup, or are thinking about it, please consider how to plug into the Healthcare Cluster locally to gain your unfair advantage. You don’t have to do it all yourself.

Have a specific question about the Digital Health economy? Ask them a question, and they’ll connect you to the right resource.

Photo courtesy of Sergey Nivens.