The British are Coming! and the Finns, the Danes, the Norwegians, the Irish, the Koreans….

This time next week I’ll be putting the finishing (and let’s be honest, starting) touches to a talk I’m giving at Digital Health Days in Stockholm. (Thursday 22 August, if you happen to be in the neighborhood). I’m one of three American luminaries (Don Jones & Steve Burrill are the other two) going over there to tell those Europeans all that we know about how Silicon Valley and good old American technology is going to shake up their ossified socialized health systems. Except that I guarantee the greater surprise won’t be what they learn from us, but what we’ll learn about the new companies and technologies coming out of Sweden and other smaller European countries.

Now I’m cheating of course. We’ve run Health 2.0 Europe for coming up to 4 years now and have seen several remarkable Health 2.0 companies from tiny countries like Ireland, Finland, and Norway (all with populations less than, say, greater Miami). And the larger European countries, especially the UK and the Netherlands, have now got decent eco-systems of health tech companies. What they lack is a tradition of Silicon Valley venture funding, and of course the sheer scale of the US market. Not only are we bigger, we also spend at least twice more per capita on health. But twenty+ years on from my graduate work in international health policy, I’m convinced the basic problems everywhere are the same. We need to get patients access to their data (and give them tools to do something with it) and we need to connect primary and secondary care.

Because these are common problems, while there’s an avalanche of small American health tech firms aiming at the US market, there’s also big groups from Finland, Denmark, Norway, the UK and more (Korea, Japan, India) coming to American conferences like Health 2.0, doing the bootcamps, having pitch days here, and looking at health care as an international technology market. Heck, we’re even having our second Health 2.0 Developer Challenge World Cup.

So if you care about using technology to improve everyone’s health care experience, think locally, but act globally.



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