Why healthcare disruptors have failed

The healthcare industry has historically been difficult for disruptors to crack, but the pandemic has opened up new opportunities for new entrants to make an impact. 

In a recent panel discussion at the Becker's Healthcare 13th Annual Meeting in Chicago April 3, leaders and executives of top health systems talked about where healthcare is headed. The panel included:

  • Dennis R. Delisle, executive director, University Hospital & Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
  • Dane Peterson, president and interim CEO, COO of Emory Healthcare
  • Brian Erling, MD, president and CEO, Renown Health
  • Rick Shumway, president and CEO, Stanford Health Care Tri-Valley & Stanford Medicine Partners

Why healthcare is a difficult industry to disrupt

One of the main reasons why healthcare has been resistant to disruption is the complexity of the industry. The healthcare system involves multiple stakeholders, from insurance companies to hospitals to pharmaceutical manufacturers. The regulatory environment is also highly complex, with stringent requirements for safety and efficacy. In addition, healthcare is a highly personal and emotional topic for many people, making it difficult to change ingrained habits and practices.

Viewing disruptors as opportunities

Despite the challenges, it's important for health systems to view disruptors as opportunities rather than threats. Disruptors can bring fresh ideas and new perspectives to the table, and partnering with them can lead to mutually beneficial outcomes. It's important to identify where disruptors can complement existing services rather than compete with them, and to understand the potential benefits of collaboration.

Successful change management efforts in healthcare

The panelists shared examples of successful change management efforts in healthcare. Dan discussed a localization effort at his academic medical center that reduced length of stay by half a day. Mr. Delisle shared the story of a large Epic go-live at Emory Medical Center, which was successful due to the interprofessional nature of the work and a strong communication strategy. Dr. Erling emphasized the importance of putting people first in healthcare transformation efforts.

Key factors for successful change management

Leaders in healthcare should focus on their ultimate goals and prioritize putting people first in change management efforts. Common pitfalls to avoid include asking people to do new work without providing resources, under communicating the why, and failing to appreciate the how. It's important to have clarity on priorities and invest in relationships to ensure their strength during times of change. Proactive creation of processes that allow for engagement at the right pace also helps ensure successful change management.

Advice for healthcare companies looking to partner with disruptors

If a health system is considering a partnership with a disruptor, it's important to ensure goals are aligned in the near and long term. Alignment on factors like access, expense, and growth are key to making sure the partnership will be successful. Healthcare companies should also remain open to fresh perspectives and be willing to adapt to change in order to thrive in a rapidly evolving industry.

Overall, the healthcare industry is ripe for disruption and change management strategies will play a major role in shaping its future. By embracing new ideas, prioritizing people, and seeking out mutually beneficial partnerships, healthcare companies can overcome past failures and achieve success in the years to come.

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