Author and Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen made the argument Wednesday that healthcare must reform itself by rethinking what care should be from a customer’s perspective.
Adopt customer perspective, author says
Just as Apple stood back and rethought and resigned desktop and personal computers with users’ needs in mind, healthcare deliverers must embrace disruptive change through new care models without the current constraints of past practice, service lines and margins.
Christensen, author of “The Innovator’s Prescription: A Disruptive Solution for Healthcare,” said that instead of trying “to make the expensive cheap”—forcing the existing care structures to sell their current services for less—the industry must create new ways to deliver lower cost, commoditized, patient-focused care.
Technology must be driven to out to providers “so they can do more of the things now done by specialists. If we don’t do this, there is no cure to America’s healthcare crisis.”
Another way to squeeze out costs is the focused factory strategy in widespread use in manufacturing.
“No model can do everything for everybody,” Christensen said, likening a hospital to a troubled Michigan auto-parts plant in a Harvard Business School case study. The plant made truck axles and gear boxes to order, but that openness to variability required multiple production pathways, which multiplied its inefficiency.
“The average hospital has about 110 different pathways a patient goes through,” he said. “Overhead is about 45% of the cost while 15% is associated with caregivers actually taking care of patients.”
“A hospital, as they are currently conceived, is not a viable institution in the absence of massive amounts of subsidy and generosity," he said.
Technology, he said, needs to be brought out to patient clinics “so they can do there what used to be only done in the hospital” and by “driving technology into clinics, offices and homes. We need to bring technology to primary-care doctors so they can do the more and more of the simple things that they used to refer to the specialists.”
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