Insights on Today's Healthcare Consumer

How You Can Be a Disruptive Innovator in the Healthcare Industry

Posted by Brent Walker on Mon, Oct 26, 2015

Disruptive Innovator in the Healthcare Industry

Disruption seems like such a negative word. When you were a kid, you could get sent to the principal’s office for being disruptive. Yet, these days, the media is filled with positive stories about disruptive innovation, and the healthcare industry isn’t immune to the phenomenon. 

If you look beyond the primary definition of disruptive in the dictionary, you’ll find an option that reads, “A radical change in an industry, business strategy, etc., especially involving the introduction of a new product or service that creates a new market.”  Healthcare, certainly, has seen its share of disruption in recent years—from the implementation of advanced data technology to the transformation of patients into healthcare consumers, not to mention the regulatory pressures designed to overhaul the healthcare system. Many industry leaders have risen to the top because they are the trailblazers of disruptive innovation in healthcare.

Disrupt, or Be Disrupted

Ultimately, the difference between the negative definition and the positive definition depends on which side of the disruption you’re on. Healthcare IT News published an article earlier this summer entitled, “Protecting from disruption by disrupting from within.” Not surprisingly, it was written by someone who brought a disruptive attitude to the healthcare party. Aaron Martin had spent eight years at consumer favorite, Amazon, where he had dual responsibilities of launching on-demand publishing and managing content acquisition for Kindle. Amazon’s innovative approach disrupted the traditional publishing industry—but it was most certainly a boon for Amazon, authors and readers.

Not surprisingly, then, Martin’s move from retail to healthcare has seen him stay focused on disruptive innovation. As the senior vice president for strategy and innovation at Providence Health & Services, Martin has spent the last 18 months looking for ways to create new sources of revenue for hospitals. And now that healthcare consumerism is on the rise, the industry is ripe for the picking. What’s on Martin’s agenda? Two programs are currently being piloted:

  1. Health eXpress is a telehealth solution that lets patients have an online healthcare visit without an appointment for $39.
  2. Providence Home Visit, which Marin likens to an Uber for healthcare, offers house- or work-calls from a physician for $99.   

Both of these offerings speak to the consumer expectation of convenient, on-demand service. In fact, Martin’s three-year roadmap looks a lot like one travelled by Amazon in the past.

  1. 2015 is focused on getting the online healthcare experience to match consumer expectations based on their past experiences with retail and financial online offerings.
  2. 2016 will be focused on “on-demand healthcare, telehealth, my schedule and in home.”
  3. 2017 will be focused on making that direct connection between patients and clinicians using apps, again similar to the way Amazon eliminated the middle men between readers and authors.

Of course, Aaron Martin isn’t the only one that is experimenting to compete more effectively for healthcare consumers.

The Many Faces of Innovative Disruption in Healthcare

CIO.com recently put together a slideshow highlighting disruptive innovators in healthcare. One new venture, called Project io, uses an app to scan patient’s limbs for more accurate prosthetic fitting. The idea is to create an easy, affordable way to help trauma victims and other amputees get the prosthetics they need. And while some may think that 3D-printing technology is still ahead of its time—and not very practical—it is proving to be a game-changer when it comes to making 3D printed robotic prosthetics, bringing the cost from close to $100,000 to only $1,000 per person.

The article also noted several different companies focused on resolving another major issue: medication adherence. Some patients follow doctor’s orders well, but that’s not always the case. Consumers are not all cut from the same cloth—and the same can be said of healthcare consumers. Companies like MediSafe, AdhereTech and PillPack are all introducing options ranging from apps that let the patient or a patient’s loved one track medication adherence to custom packaged pills that make it easier to remember when and what needs to be taken.

Medwand is hoping to take telemedicine to the next level by developing a portable device that can share key vitals with healthcare professionals digitally, allowing for virtual house calls to support patients that lack easy access to a medical facility.

PatientBond automates patient engagement using emails, texts, phone calls and hospital portals, customized with messaging specific to patients’ psychographic profiles to appeal to their motivations, addressing issues such as missed appointments, medication adherence, 30 day readmission and many other important opportunities.

EdLogics offers a novel gamification system to incentivize health education, leveraging behavioral economics to drive healthy behaviors.

Disruptive innovation in healthcare comes with risks. The healthcare industry is notoriously behind other industries when it comes to technology adoption. There are HIPAA privacy regulations that must be addressed. Still, as consumers continue to take more financial responsibility for their own care, they will also demand more from care providers. Healthcare providers need to understand how to innovate, fail fast if needed, and innovate again to achieve success.

Patient Activation and Engagement Whitepaper

Brent Walker

Written by: Brent Walker

As Chief Marketing Officer, Brent's primary responsibilities include leading marketing strategy and execution for c2b solutions, development of c2b solutions' proprietary consumer segmentation model and insights products, research on healthcare consumers’ motivations and behaviors, and providing marketing guidance to c2b solutions clients.

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