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Will Disruptive Innovations Cure Health Care?

By Clayton M. Christensen, Richard Bohmer, John Kenagy

It's no secret that health care delivery is convoluted, expensive, and often deeply dissatisfying to consumers. But what is less obvious is that a way out of this crisis exists. Just as the PC replaced the mainframe and the telephone replaced the telegraph operator, disruptive innovations are changing the landscape of health care. Nurse practitioners, general practitioners, and even patients can do things in less-expensive, decentralized settings that could once be performed only by expensive specialists in centralized, inconvenient locations. But established institutions are fighting these innovations tooth and nail. Not only is this at the root of consumer dissatisfaction with the present system, it sows the seeds of its own destruction. The history of disruptive innovations tells us that incumbent institutions will be replaced with ones whose business models are appropriate to the new technologies and markets. Instead of working to preserve the existing systems, regulators, physicians, and pharmaceutical companies need to ask how they can enable more disruptive innovations to emerge. If the natural process of disruption is allowed to proceed, the result will be higher quality, lower cost, more convenient health care for everyone.

Article available for purchase at Harvard Business Review

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Because the patterns of disruptive innovation are so crystal clear to me, I can underestimate the very real difficulty of actually creating new growth businesses, especially in large corporations. Innosight's ability to make the theories of disruption more tractable has been a great asset.

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