In the rapidly changing healthcare landscape, innovation is a key driver of progress and improved patient outcomes. While traditional healthcare organizations continue to play a crucial role in care delivery, disruptors — healthcare adjacent companies that are shifting the healthcare industry by making big changes that significantly redefine the way care is delivered — are projected to represent an increasingly larger share of the market. According to a report from McKinsey & Company on what to expect from disruptors in the future, retail clinics, AI and wearable devices, telehealth, and digital platforms within HST (Health and Services Technology) are expected to grow significantly over the next few years.
There are three reasons why innovation from disruptors, including boutique start-ups and retail organizations, should be embraced as an important element to transform the health ecosystem.
Access to financial resources
With their financial resources, disruptors can drive innovation and help the industry advance more quickly. Peripheral healthcare players often have deep pockets and can leverage their financial resources to attract new investments. For example, just last year CVS Pharmacy acquired Signify, a healthcare platform with 10,000 physicians in the United States who provide care virtually and in person.
In the same year, Amazon acquired primary care provider One Medical, which has 188 offices in the US. These acquisitions demonstrate that disruptors have the financial resources — and the flexibility — to invest in care delivery models that can improve access for consumers to supplement what is being offered by traditional health systems.
Increased access to preventive and non-urgent care
In the healthcare ecosystem, helping the industry advance includes getting more patients the care they need, where they need it, when they need it. One advantage of disruptors is their ability to reach populations that may otherwise struggle to receive adequate healthcare services. By establishing healthcare clinics within their stores, retail organizations like CVS, Walmart, and Dollar General are making healthcare services more accessible to underserved populations. For consumers, these locations are often easier to navigate than traditional hospitals, and for health concerns or illnesses that might only require a one-off appointment, it may be easier to get an appointment at a walk-in clinic than with a primary care physician.
According to insights published by Axios on how major retailers are changing how Americans consume healthcare, this more user-friendly, accessible portal to the health system could lead to more engaged patients and better access to care in underserved areas. By bringing healthcare physically closer to more individuals, organizations like CVS and Walmart may improve health outcomes for a broader demographic.
Greater agility and speed
Large health systems are known to have labyrinth facilities and challenging Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems. It’s difficult for well-established hospitals and health systems to make changes quickly, which can slow the pace of innovation. Peripheral healthcare players, on the other hand, are usually unhindered by complex bureaucratic structures. This allows them to adapt to new technologies and integrate innovative solutions into their operations more quickly.
By adopting cutting-edge technologies, including telehealth platforms, wearable devices, and AI-driven diagnostics, disruptors pave the way for transformative changes in healthcare data making massive contributions to the overall progress of the health ecosystem.
With great advantages comes great responsibility.
While innovation from disruptors may prove to be beneficial for patients and their communities at large, the agility and fast-paced nature of these players requires responsible, effective leadership. To fully harness their potential, these disruptors need to understand the strengths and challenges of the incumbents to reap the rewards of what they offer.
Additionally, to fully embrace the disruptors, healthcare executives need to build their ability to think outside the box and find ways to best partner with new players. It is essential for both disruptors and incumbents to have leaders who can navigate complexity to drive meaningful change through collaboration.
It’s important to partner with coaches who have a unique perspective, experience, and expertise to help both incumbents and health disruptors enter the market to collaborate effectively and drive healthcare innovation.
About Tracy Duberman, PhD, President and CEO, The Leadership Development Group
With a background combining operations experience in various sectors of the health industry, three decades of leadership coaching and consulting, and innovative research on executive and physician leadership effectiveness, Tracy founded The Leadership Development Group and serves as its CEO.
Tracy is a recognized expert on leadership within, between, and across the various sectors of the health ecosystem. She is a published author of From Competition to Collaboration: How Leaders Cultivate Partnerships to Drive Value and Transform Health, a nationally recognized speaker, and a sought-after leadership coach. Before founding TLD Group, Tracy led the Healthcare Practice Leader at a leading boutique executive coaching firm and was a Senior Consultant with Hay Group (now Korn Ferry).