From this point forward, healthcare will lead other industries in innovation

A letter from Olive CEO Sean Lane. Originally published in our magazine, Olive Quarterly.

Healthcare is an industry whose impact means the difference between life or death. The health and well being of the human race is at stake and globally we spend almost $10 trillion a year to endeavor towards a better system. In the U.S. alone, we spend 18% of GDP on healthcare. Yet, for decades the same tired story has echoed the halls of conferences, media outlets and meeting rooms. We’ve complained about outdated systems, hand-me-down tech, lack of interoperability, antiquated billing systems and bureaucratic malaise.

When I entered healthcare a decade ago, it felt like a broken record of grumbling in panels and fireside chats. I constantly heard healthcare executives were luddites and not ready to change. But when I met with hundreds of executives, I found exactly the opposite. The problem is not the executives in healthcare. The problem is not the 16 million dedicated healthcare workers. The problem is healthcare technology companies. We had built some pretty mediocre products. However, when I looked around for the builders, the engineers or the R&D budgets that could withstand bold new technology, I found a shocking reality. It was virtually a ghost town.

As an industry, we weren’t putting our resources to work to solve the hard technology problems in the same way every other industry had done. None of the “big players” in healthcare were investing nearly enough R&D into transformative technologies. Startup companies with half a shot to make a difference were acquired before they could fulfill their vision. Capital sources were focused on incremental improvements of status quo, or worse, the arbitrage of a disconnected patchwork system. Value investors kept true innovation at bay. That era … is over.

It’s time for a new class of companies whose ambitions are to grow and not to sell. Companies who are more interested in a billion dollar R&D budget than a billion dollar valuation. Companies that will be in it for the long-haul. Investing incredible amounts of time and money into solving humankind’s most important technology problems. We want Olive to be one of these companies and we are extending our platform to others looking to build one of these companies as well — or at least something important for our industry.

If you come along with us on this journey as a customer, partner, employee, fan or even critic, I can promise you these things:

  1. We will never stop creating and offering new products at a high velocity
  2. We will always challenge the legacy system and the assumptions upon which it was built
  3. It won’t always be easy: There will be rough spots and challenging times, but the results will be worth it

Olive Quarterly will show you in detail how we plan to do that. We’re pretty transparent. There are a few secret projects I can’t tell you about — yet — but most of our plans will be found in the following pages. There are a number of exciting new technologies and products, but remember … we’re just getting started.

From this point forward, healthcare will lead other industries in innovation and technology rather than lag. Other industries will borrow our technology. Together we will be the pioneers. We will provide the examples that others will model themselves after. “Ten years behind healthcare” will be the new broken record.

Onward,

Sean Lane, CEO of Olive



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