Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Clinical Innovation - What Disruptive Innovations Will Succeed?

October 27 - Today I received the brochure of the 7th Annual World Health Care Congress. The Congress divides the medical world into 5 categories.

1) Employer incentives for prevention and improved productivity

2) New models for health plan, hospital, and health system collaboration

3) Implications of health reform on all sectors of health care

4) Meaningful use and deployment of Health IT

5) Disruptive Innovations and new business models and new business models in health care

Disruptive innovation speakers include Clayton Christensen, PhD, of Harvard Business School, Alfred Spector of Google, Inc, and Mohammed Yunus of Grameen Health. The latter won the Nobel Peace Prize for making tiny loans to the poor in Bangladesh to promote entrepreneurship in villagers.

These speakers champion promoting change among care users and consumers at the grassroots, a concept with which I agree.

But how can one predict what changes will succeed? It is a question that vexes venture capitalists. They want to invest in health care startups, but aren’t sure which early ventures will succeed and which will fail.

Two days ago, I wrote a blog “Disruptive Innovation, For the Alliterative.” I explained, tongue-in-cheek, that disruptive innovation in health care could be defined as,

Disruptive innovation is defined as delegating, designating, distributing and decentralizing doctor duties and devices to decrease dollars and diminish delays in downscale destinations deployed by deliverers of care.”

I promptly received an email from Thomas Thurston, president and managing director of Growth Science International of Portland, Oregon. He said he had worked as a fellow for Clayton Christensen at Harvard Business in 2007 and 2008, and in his present position, had worked out a scheme for identifying those health care startups that were likely to succeed or fail.

Thurston divided startups into affiliated with established or sustaining firms, “incumbents,” and those that were independent startups with low cost approaches, which he deemed as “disruptive.”

To my surprise, he said the disruptive startups were more likely to succeed, perhaps because they had no cultural hang-ups connected with established firm’s cultures.

He recommended I take a look at Whiteglove House Calls in Austin, Texas. This firm offers routine medical care at home or work, 365 days a year, 8AM to 8PM, with fixed fees, including medical care, generic drugs, foods, beverages, and over the counter medications.

Furthermore, Whiteglove asserts, “Our team of physicians and nurse practitioners are committed to changing the way you are treated. We offer an alternative to expensive emergency room and urgent care centers for routine care and provide a refreshing health care experience over the hassles and inconveniences of running to the doctor, waiting, running to the pharmacy, waiting, and running to the grocery store – all before you can begin to mend. For more information, please visit www.whiteglove.com.”

I cannot vouch for Whiteglove, except to note it has expanded to other major Texas cities, and is covered by some health plans in Texas. I can also say this is a good example of “disruptive innovation” and decentralization at work.

As I noted in my previous blog, Disruptive innovation enables people to do sophisticated things in a more convenient, lower-cost setting, which historically could only be done by specialists in a less convenient setting.

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