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Why keeping it simple is a good strategy, even for innovators

Posted by: Ryan Amin on September 3, 2013

With an educational background in business, and a medical degree specializing in orthopedics, Blaine Warkentine, Founder and CEO of Vimty, has continuously been able to find issues in the healthcare industry that can be improved, sometimes simply.

"I kept finding myself being pulled in the direction of 'How can I do this better?' and the truth about healthcare is that most everything can be done better," said Warkentine.

Understanding the ins and outs of the healthcare processes and economics is important. "I worked as a senior fellow in population health so I could understand the scope of problems from the process side as well as economically, and that led me to a number of glaring problems that I could envision solutions to by just following the money," he said.

Warkentine created Vimty, which is an online video creator for advance directives. "We created an all-digital system with an eNotary that required a webcam conversation with the patient. By doing that, we were already in the process of creating video advance directives," he said.

Knowing that over 80 percent of patients want an advance directive, but only 7 percent are utilizing them, seemed like a glaring issue for me to try and solve (not to mention that more than 50 percent of all healthcare costs can be attributable to end of life care expenses). So Warkentine simplified the process and made it more convenient and accessible. "People don't like talking about death, so Vimty allows patients to answer a few questions to video (a patented process) as a 'living directive' that is much more fun to share and far more meaningful to the family. It is then used to break the ice with families. Families use the video to understand and then have longer conversations about the issue. Connecting people's decisions is a lot less costly and anxiety provoking than connecting yourself to endless tubes, machines, and ICU rooms.

Entrepreneurs rarely have one idea in mind. Warkentine works as a consultant for a few healthcare companies and startups and has issues at times with juggling multiple ideas. "But I like it that way, I basically socialize my ideas with friends. If no one likes it, I just simply push it off to the side. Not every idea is good, but every good idea has its time and place. If you wait for that and you're ahead of the game with some portion of the process, you can ramp it up as soon as the market is prime," he said. Not every innovation in healthcare has to flip the industry, Warkentine says.

Innovations should be kept simple and focused. "Find something that is small enough that you can do it, and bring to the table as much value to the user as possible with one simple act, then make it even smaller. You should have a basic strategy that is long term, but you have to start with something small, because that allows adoption to take place. Simplify it until it is basically brain-dead. Amazon didn't come out day one and say that you could buy everything there; they just helped you find used books," Warkentine added.

Here are more entrepreneurial insights from Warkentine:

Physicians have an advantage - Warkentine said he was compelled by entrepreneurship because of his medical experience, and he considers a shift to entrepreneurship a promising path, particularly today. "The physician community can have the ideas; they know how the system works, they know the problems, their frustrations, and where they could even dis-intermediate the need for themselves. That is a very good place to start" he said.

Other Entrepreneurs are allies - Networking with other entrepreneurs can make huge differences at any phase (Ideation, creation, execution, growth). "I have a recent partner that is developing a mobile app for micro blogging on chronic disease. I wanted to leverage a similar idea but focus it on pre and post-surgery. We formed a mutually beneficial partnership and split the spectrum to medical vs. surgical. He modifies his app to suit my needs for surgery, and I go out and help him execute on his path medically. Together we are both in a much better position now because of the partnership."

[Photo by - emmajanehw]

Category:  Creation  Ideation  Tags:  Entrepreneur, Startup, HealthIT, Vimty, Blaine Warkentine, Digital Health

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