Disrupting Healthcare


In his classic 1997 book The Innovator’s Dilemma, Harvard Business School Professor, Clayton Christensen introduced to the world the concept of Disruptive Innovation. As Christensen defined it, Disruptive Innovation has several key components two of which include 1) being an innovation whose impact is so far reaching that the ultimate outcome could not be predicted at the outset and 2) the current market leaders initially do not embrace the innovation nor its value until they loose so much revenue, market share or both, that they can not survive without significant restructuring, loss of the their market leadership position or worse.

Applied to healthcare then, why are so many people in the health sector using the term disruptive innovation to apply to things that may be substantial, but truly only represent incremental advances, at best? A healthcare system that relies on technology to enable providers to make more accurate or enable faster decision making, is by definition, not disruptive, but it is faster and more accurate. Is faster and more accurate important? Absolutely! Will it result in saving additional lives and reduced suffering? Indeed!! While extremely important, neither of these improvements are, of themselves or taken together…disruptive. Why, because it is unlikely that either one of these will lead to significant changes in the way healthcare markets and business models currently work. It may may make them more efficient, lead to improved revenues and possibly even lower costs and improve access to care. All of which are exceedingly important. None of which are disruptive.

Because none of us can predict the future, it is impossible for us to know today, which solutions will become truly disruptive in healthcare tomorrow. What we can do though is examine solutions for their impact or potential impact on healthcare markets and business models. By doing this we can make informed decisions about which solutions are likely to be truly disruptive and therefore have the most significant future value.

In the coming weeks and months we will share examples and insights about solutions we believe to be truly disruptive in the health sector.  Some of the examples may surprise you or you may even disagree. That is fine and we would love to hear your thoughts about what I share. In the end though, we hope you are challenged to think deeply about how healthcare needs to be disrupted, so that you can be the first to seize new business opportunities or you can be the one that otherwise helps the US achieve its national health goals.

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