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Pilot programs are health tech’s proving ground: they let health systems test-drive new devices and software without spending millions of dollars or shaking up patient care too quickly. They’re also where some of tech’s biggest ideas have gone to die.

For one reason or another — lack of funding, patient pushback, or IT difficulties — many pilots simply fizzle out. An Amazon Alexa device placed by the bedside to let patients request care instead left them creeped out. A suite of devices to keep tabs on sick kids at home proved too challenging to scale up. But while failures can teach health systems just as much about what’s actually viable as successes, leadership is often hesitant to discuss them publicly in detail. Doing so could help other health systems avoid costly experiments that are ultimately doomed, and help the tech companies building the technology proactively tweak it to fit health system needs.

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