Western New York may seem an unlikely place to invent the future of medicine. But in fact, Western New York—and the many communities like us around the country—are where the real battle over the future will take place.
While we are not home to the biggest pharmaceutical companies, nor are we the home of famous biotech and healthcare unicorns, we are where their creations are inevitably headed. Silicon Valley may be their pilot market, but places like Western New York are their proving ground. As you’ll see in Trickle-Up Innovation (p. 28), breakthroughs can—and, increasingly, will—happen everywhere. But no matter where an innovation originates, until it works on Main Street, under our constraints, the future of medicine hasn’t really arrived.
Our challenges in Western New York are typical of so many other places around the country. With 2 million people, we are plenty big—so we’re no small challenge. Few in our community have the wealth reserves to pay for super-premium care; the vast majority have to accept what their insurance alone can cover. The health of our population shows the wear and tear of long winters, lives spent working on our feet and a steady diet of hearty but not heart-healthy comfort food. We’re aging, and presenting the typical signs that go hand in hand with aging—higher rates of stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s and heart disease.
L. Nelson “Nick” Hopkins, MD, FACS Founder & Chief Scientific Officer The Jacobs Institute
Those of us who take care of this com- munity feel deeply invested. We care not just for our patients, but for the greater community and the healthcare system itself, across all providers. We’ve built the Jacobs Institute on the premise that fostering innovation is the most important thing we can do to ensure improved quality of care for current and future generations. We commissioned this report to rally and prepare local medical communities for the impending future. Our hope is that this report brings the stakeholders in our community and yours to the table to form long-term strategic innovation plans.
The report accurately describes the current state of affairs in major cities, and it applies here. Providers are swamped with new mandated reporting requirements and are competing at too many levels, from primary care through specializations, rather than focusing on what they do best in the market, and getting ever better and more efficient at it. Our brands lack clarity, so patients feel confused and uninformed. All this accomplishes is slowly leaking market share to outsiders. Today, it’s patients choosing to get care down in Pittsburgh—or at Walmart. Soon, as the report warns, it’ll be national and global health brands reaching out to our patient population with virtual care. The same way Amazon has run roughshod over retailers’ business models, it—or Google, or Apple—could suddenly turn healthcare on its head by digitizing medicine at scale.
As mighty a challenge as it was to gaze into the years ahead and envision med- icine’s future, the even harder work will be done here, locally. It’s somewhat like solving a Rubik’s Cube—you understand what it’s supposed to get to, but it’s a puzzle to get there, one twist at a time. As you read this report, we encourage you to ponder how the future depicted creates new opportunities and might shape our strategic development plans for the years ahead.