Esther Dyson's Population Health Dream

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media , May 14, 2013

Her idea also needs money. Lots of it. A target community might spend a billion annually in healthcare costs. "Someone needs to be willing to spend, instead of $1 billion year after year, $1.2 billion the first year, in the belief that they're going to get that $200 million and more back in the fifth year, because it needs to be discounted," she says. "That's going to require either a very rich foundation, a benevolent billionaire, [or] some kind of social impact fund."

I started this column by gently presenting this notion as central planning reborn, but I really hope that HICCUP gets a chance to work, somewhere. The clinical trial system in this country is itself totally inadequate when it comes to establishing or proving the efficacy of the range of tech and social interventions Dyson describes.

The healthcare crisis is very real, and there's a danger that without showing dramatic, Biggest Loser-type results, the current craze of fitness and health-related gadgets will wilt like so many dot-coms did a dozen years ago. "Everybody's skeptical, with good reason," of these technologies, she says.

No single individual knows the ebb and flow of Silicon Valley technology waves, the investors who power those innovations, and the inner workings of healthcare like Dyson. If she says this is worth a try, I have to agree.

Dyson invites interested providers and other healthcare leaders to contact her. Perhaps her population health dreams are akin to your own. Maybe her interest in space travel is too.

Esther Dyson: Tales of Cosmonaut Training from Maker Faire on

Scott Mace is senior technology editor at HealthLeaders Media.
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