The case for sick care improvements, not disruption

The case for sick care improvements, not disruption

Sick care is in trouble. Many argue that we need to go big or go home claiming that we should stop tweaking the system of systems and, instead, make the existing model obsolete.

However, the Moon shot mentality has many downsides. High risk high return ventures often fail, creating a lot of collateral damage.

70-20-10 is a formula that describes how someone learns to do their job. In a twist, the 70/20/10 rule states that organizations should spend 70% of their time on the now, 20% on the next and 10% on the new. There are three horizons of action that the Creator archetype can take to capture growth. NOW initiatives find growth through new niches within categories, segments, and markets. NEW actions focus on developing new products and services. NEXT initiatives capture organic growth from new business models.

70-20-10 Google

Innovation has both a qualitative and quantitative component. Where you decide to play on the novelty-value matrix is an important strategic decision with differing risks and benefits along the spectrum. One is being labeled a “disruptive physician” and suffering the consequences.

Harvard Professor, Michael Porter, claimed that “the essence of strategy is choosing what not to do”. It follows, then, that when it comes to initiatives, you need to be careful what you ask for.

Here are some reasons why incremental improvements might be a better way to fix things than “disruption”:

  1. It’s easier to test and kill the ones that aren’t working particularly if you use design thinking and lean startup customer discovery and hypothesis testing techniques.
  2. They are less risky and the cost of failure is less
  3. It reduces change , innovation and technofatigue
  4. In the highly regulated sick care industry, it is easier to ask for permission than forgiveness
  5. It minimizes the distraction of traction
  6. It reduces burnout
  7. It forces you to more clearly define the problem, resources and stakeholder support required to be successful
  8. If forces you to prune and to sunset zombie projects that are not adding user defined value
  9. It extends your thinking beyond just new products to include experience and models as well
  10. If forces you to ask the right questions before you add another ornament to the tree.

Ten Types of Innovation

The reality is that most innovation is incremental and evolutionary, building on smaller improvements. Once in a while, there is a giant leap, punctuating the path of progress. The challenge is deciding where and how you want to travel on that road and which exit to take.

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Arlen MyersArlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at

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Arlen Meyers

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is an emeritus professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine ,teaches bioentrepreneurship and is Chief Medical Officer for Bridge Health and Cliexa. He is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at and author of the Life Science Innovation Roadmap.




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