Physician, disrupt thyself

The traditional theory of disruption calls for outsiders to shake up an industry. However, tradition and disruption are an odd couple, and in healthcare, many innovators are emerging from within, according to Paul Merrild, senior vice president of enterprise solutions at athenahealth.

athenahealth conducted a survey of approximately 150 healthcare executives in diverse settings, including physician practices, staffing agencies and health systems, to take a pulse on disruption in healthcare from within. The survey revealed the following findings, as presented by Harvard Business Review.

  • 70 percent of respondents felt their organizations were positioned for future success
  • More than 75 percent felt they were well positioned to compete in their local market
  • 3 percent felt unprepared to compete in their local market
  • More than 50 percent felt healthcare is ready for disruption

However, nearly two-thirds of respondents said cultural resistance or misaligned physicians were the biggest hurdle to innovation, according to the report. Others identified their major roadblock as outdated or ineffective IT infrastructure. Inefficient or outdated analytics, processes and compensation models were also cited. "The overwhelming sentiment among our roundtable participants was that the impediments to change are mostly internal," Mr. Merrild writes. "Overcoming such challenges requires intrepid leadership."

Respondents to the survey said they are scanning widely for models of executives who have successfully disrupted their own organizations. "When we asked which companies healthcare executives most admire, the top choice wasn't Mayo, Cleveland Clinic or any other blue chip healthcare institution," wrote Mr. Merrild. "It was Apple: the tech giant with a history of cannibalizing its own products before a competitor does and  promoting disruption before being overtaken by it."


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