One can hardly turn around these days without bumping into someone who is predicting that health care is ripe for disruptive innovation. No one seems to know exactly what it will be or where it will come from, only that something is definitely coming.
I believe that innovation will come in many different forms from many different sources. But the unpredictable curveball for health care is the speed at which it will happen and become the norm.
An obvious example is the cellphone, a relatively new invention. Cellphones quickly changed from a clever gadget owned by a few to a must-have personal and business tool. Now it is estimated that 91 percent of the world's population either owns or has access to one. Just reflect on how quickly the smartphone changed your work and family life.
The following is a quote from Adrian Slywotzky, a partner in the Oliver Wyman consulting firm and the subject of this issue's Interview on how health care leaders' thinking may lag the market, noting that this has happened in a variety of industries.
"And it happens for a variety of reasons … leaders run very good, sophisticated businesses that demand a lot of their attention. It becomes harder to see new clinical models and new business models coming up at the edge of the radar screen. … The second reason is because, when the customer changes, the market rarely changes 80 to 100 percent. You have 3, 4, 5 percent of the market changing and voting for the new models, and it seems like a small number. The problem is that the number often grows 50 to 100 percent a year and so, in industry after industry when consumers' new behavior switches from being small to mainstream, that usually catches us by surprise."
Please read the full interview beginning on Page 44. He articulates a number of complex developments and ideas in an enlightening context.
As my colleague Bill Santamour notes in his Health Matters column, much of the attention is rightfully focused on the consumer as a change agent, but the radar screen is much busier than ever before.
Venture funding of digital health companies exceeded $1.9 billion in 2013, up 39 percent from 2012. And 2014 is proceeding at a pace that will blow through those numbers. Why will this class of entrepreneurs succeed where their forebears became frustrated and failed? Some cite a clearer path to enter the market and make money as well as the loosening grip of entrenched players favoring the status quo. Others see the convergence of the Fortune 500 and Wall Street.
And it's not all about clever new apps. Much of it centers on data analytics. GE recently invested $8.5 million in a firm that wants to help payers and providers look at patient bills stratified by population and use the data to create payment bundles with standardized protocols for different episodes of care.
And none of this even touches on the myriad array of innovations underway. Just a few recent announcements: Boeing plans an employer-driven ACO without an insurance company; Walgreens forms a collaborative with a large Medicare Advantage plan and ACO for population health; and an insurer with more than 2.2 million members includes palliative care as an additional benefit and offers training.
Yes indeed. It's a very busy radar screen.
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