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Friday, Jun 22, 2018
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Pursuing a new health care vision

It was encouraging to see an enthusiastic crowd at the first Medifuture 2023 Conference in Tampa, which is aimed at positioning our region as the focal point for revolutionary health care. It was also encouraging to see how much underappreciated progress the community already has made. The focus was on “disruptive” innovation, which keynote speaker Clayton Christensen, a Harvard business school professor and author, describes as innovation that transforms an expensive and complicated product into one that is affordable and accessible. Costly, cumbersome health care is desperately in need of such an overhaul.
And at the conference at the Tampa Marriot Waterside Hotel it was evident it is already taking place to a large degree here. The region’s health care institutions are taking bold steps to become a leader in the kind of personalized medicine that will radically improve and streamline care. The University of South Florida medical school, Draper Bioengineering Center, the Moffitt Cancer Center, M2Gen, Tampa General Hospital and other local health care enterprises are leading the way in developing treatments based on the specific needs of each patient, not simply responding to a disease. Such work is consistent with Christensen’s charge that destructive innovation must meet people’s needs, not simply find a way to more efficiently execute a familiar mission. The Tampa area is “ahead of the curve,” acknowledged Dave Chase, a Forbes contributor and health care executive, during his session. During the conference — whose sponsors included the University of South Florida and Sun Trust Bank — new health care businesses devoted to such diverse endeavors as stem cell treatments, sterilizing equipment and helping people make lifestyle changes were highlighted. This ambitious health care transformation represents more than just glitzy boosterism. Things are happening — and the more than 500 people from throughout the area that attended the event testify to the appeal of becoming, as Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe likes to say, the Silicon Valley for new medicine. Whether we can achieve that lofty goal will depend on whether we can remain committed to the vision, and not fall into the parochial squabbles that so often undermine economic progress. Success is not assured, but Medifuture 2023, which is intended to be an annual event, suggests we have the resources and the brainpower necessary to remake health care and our economy.

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