Biggest Hospital Marketing Idea of the Year: Startup in a Hospital - Riffing on Startup Plane

So anyone know a really, REALLY innovative, freewheeling hospital executive in Las Vegas?

We're talking an absolute maverick here...

One who would let two crazy healthcare entrepreneurs and firestarters from Holland camp out in a room for 3-4 days leading up to SWWS 2008 (July 14-17th)? (Note: We don't care if it's the resident on-call room or a patient room, as long as it's not the morgue).

Nexthealth co-organizer Maarten den Braber and I (to our great surprise), had a paper accepted a WORLDCOMP's SWWS 2008 (International Conference on Semantic Web and Web Services).

This is where the creme-de-la-creme of web tech academia and brainiacs of the semantic web meet up and geek out for 4 days. It is way, way out of our league (and that's putting it mildly).

Somehow, the organizers and review panel saw our stuff and mistakenly qualified it as a "Regular Research Paper (RRP)."

This means at the show we have 20 whole minutes to fumble about and try not to make complete idiots of ourselves while we present our paper, ambitiously titled "The Semantic Web Sparks Health 2.0 Evolution: A Roadmap to Consumer Centric Care."

On the way home from a Nexthealth organizational meeting last night, we were sitting on the train throwing around ideas about how to prepare for our presentation (other than imbibing on copious amounts of sugar, caffeine and tranquilizers, a la any college all-nighter or typical weeknight for a tech entreprenuer).

Nexthealth itself started in the same wacky, offhand, organic way.

Maarten den Braber, Martijn Hulst and I 'met' up via the online community at Hospital Impact (thanks Tony Chen) just before my move to Holland.

We were all blogging about healthcare and working in the sector. We decided an informal offline meetup over coffee might kickstart an interesting conversation about global healthcare delivery and innovation.

Three weeks later, with the additional work and devotion of Jeroen Kuipers, Jacqueline Fackeldey, and Niels Schuddeboom, that series of emails and online chat morphed into the first Health 2.0 Unconference in Holland, with 50 people attending.

Here's the real kicker - in true Web 2.0 fashion, before arranging the actual Unconference, neither Martijn, Maarten, nor I had met in person (Martijn Hulst and I didn't ACTUALLY meet until the day of the Unconference).

We just connected the dots and provided a place for online contacts to meet in the brick and mortar world, and the whole thing took off. Luckily, none of the three of us were bots, so we all showed up too.

Pretty soon (meaning during the beer and conversation period immediately after the Unconference) people started asking 'what's next?'

We all went home, sat down at our computers, threw up some Powerpoints on Slideshare, answered questions at the Ning community, did some reading, and thought hard about the answer to that question.

Within a few days, we were writing, blogging, Tweeting, and Skyping about how Health 2.0 will evolve and shape 'what's next,' or "Nexthealth."

From its birth at the Unconference, Nexthealth, which started out as an idea Maarten and I geekily whiteboarded one night, grew into a website, Open Hospital sessions, and a bunch of other applications.

From that nerdy brainstorm around the whiteboard, and via countless cocktail napkin, flipchart, and Post-It evolutionary stages, Maarten and I developed something a bit more in-depth - the graph and research we're launching, called Nexthealth, the model 'roadmap,' at SWWS.

We knew any tools built would need to be both top-down and bottom-up, connecting individual 'firestarter' innovators with existing implementors (the "gray suits" of the current hospital and healthcare world). We also firmly believe they have to be 'open-source,' available to all, freely, and released into the wild as quickly as possible.

So we drew out a way to help them get from where they are, to plot a course to where they want to be (working from a base of the Health 2.0 movement in the US, defined/founded by Matthew Holt and Indu Subaiya) - a map to figure out 'what's next' for healthcare in Holland.

Nexthealth lets existing healthcare stakeholders plot an evolutionary course to consumer-centric strategy and delivery (using existing constituencies, structures, and service lines), and the model is all about encouraging a platform of collaboration, rather than competition.

So that's all great. But here's the kicker.

Maarten and I need time and a healthcare-friendly, always-on environment to launch, videoblog, conference in, Tweet, Plurk and all other manner of unmentionable Web 2.0 activities with our Nexthealth folks in Holland, and our friends sparking healthcare change worldwide, prior to the presentation.

Last night we were trying to decide when and where to stay in Vegas before the conference (being bootstrapping entrepreneurs, bloggers, and a grad student in Maarten's case, our options were a bit, ahem, limited).

Plus, a hotel room is boring and a bit too typical for the kind of things we get fired up doing...

Joking around, and probably still buzzing on the energy we always generate during nexthealth meetups and mindstorms, I blurted out "Startup in a Hospital."

To an infinitely embarrassing degree, this shows how obsessed I am with the TechStars community and the amazing stuff those guys and gals are doing (fast, and with frighteningly small amounts of cash but a stable of connections that I'm sure makes even Marc Andreeson salivate).

Both Maarten and I have been following the startup, tech, and venture capital worlds separately as a hobby.

So we're both huge fans of "Startup Plane," with Andrew Hyde, which resulted in the creation of VCwear.com. (Watch the video here).

I don't have a nifty videophone here in Holland (long story, it's difficult to get a phone with a contract as an expat) I whipped out my old-school GE voice recorder and we jokingly recorded the concept for "Startup in a Hospital."

Here's the pitch:

  • For 3 days bed and board, you get 2 hyperconnected, witty (we think), personable healthcare innovators, firestarters, bloggers, authors, and consultants.
  • We will, literally, be blogging, planning the startup Nexthealth.NL and corresponding with our colleagues in Holland (Martijn Hulst, Jeroen Kuipers, Jacqueline Fackeldey, and Niels Schuddeboom), and preparing for our SWWS 2008 presentation from our hospital beds.
  • We want to be wearing branded scrubs with our sponsors logos. Hospitalstartupwear.com it is. We're happy to wear your hospital logo, in any means/manner short of a permanent tattoo.
  • We'll be coming and going and gearing up for our presentation, so we won't get in the way. Too much. But we will be our normal, startingly forthright and bitingly sarcastic selves (how we are when we're not busy being cheerleaders for global healthcare change), so if your food sucks, we may blog about it.
  • Think of us as your test patients. Have a new wing? New hospital design? Did you just implement Planetree? The Disney Be Our Guest program? Want to test noise, lighting, odor and other atmospheric impacts on rest and relaxation levels of patients and guests? We're willing to be your guinea pigs. Please, no pharma testing, though that might make for a VERY interesting SWWS presentation...

Here's the fine print:

  • Some people will be grossly offended by Startup in a Hospital. Two beds? Wasted for people who aren't sick? The US hospital system is wrecked and you're doing some crazy Startup in a Hospital gag, giving rooms to people who don't NEED our care? (Well, that point is debatable - a psych room might be particularly fitting).
  • Your hospital lawyers and General Counsel may tell you this is a really. really. bad idea. Without the proper release forms in place, they'd probably be right. Which is why we'll put our John and Jen Hancocks on just about anything. Ask yourself one question - what would Dr. House do?
  • We will adhere to HIPAA. We realize the incredible seriousness of privacy in the hospital setting. We will not videotape or blog about ANY hospital patients or physicians. Although if we encounter a hot doctor we may in fact create a McDreamy-esque nickname, we will not post his/her photo on hotornot.com.
  • We will videoblog ONLY from our hospital room, where the Startup in a Hospital magic is happening. We will not videoblog ANY hospital employees, unless your CEO wants some face time, in which case we're thrilled to oblige. We will not interfere in any way, shape, or form, with hospital operations and care delivery.
  • We will sign any and all release forms your team of legal eagles may require.
  • We realize this has to be arranged incredibly fast. That's just the way we roll. You should probably email your Board right now. You should look at our LinkedIn profiles (Jen McCabe Gorman, Maarten den Braber). We are happy to provide credit card and Passport info, our life stories, and submit to background checks (about that one time in San Juan...).

In all seriousness, if we come stay in your hospital, we will behave. We think this is actually an amazing opportunity for a hospital to do something really innovative and newsworthy, with very little risk.

I've been an inpatient following ortho surgeries 6 times. My mom is an RN. I know what it's like to be sick, in pain, and scared in a hospital.

I'd like to know what it feels like to build something amazing there - a recovery tool for the entire system.

Come back tomorrow for the transcript of the "Startup in a Hospital" recording. (Yeah, we're old school like that...)

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