Disruptive innovation, by its very nature, is not mainstream, but it does have evidence to support that it works. It turns long held beliefs on its ear and demands consideration by providing evidence of its success. In the case of treating specific disease states over a cycle of care, evidence is provided by measuring outcomes, detailed data collection, and the willingness of physicians to have their treatment protocols standardized and measured for continuous improvements. Mainstream medicine resists measurement, but their disruptive counterparts are quietly gaining respect around the country. More importantly, they are not working harder, but smarter, and earning more without passing costs onto their patients, the insurance carrier, or shifting costs elsewhere to be absorbed.
Disruptive innovation does not suggest that we take the latest technology or medical breakthrough and market it as a means of differentiating ourselves from one another. Not if the emphasis is on charging more money while realizing incremental value in comparison to an older treatment method.
Instead, disruptive innovation is about using technology and medical research to change outcomes and results in profound and meaningful ways that enhances the patient's quality of life. At one time, the pharmaceutical and medical device industry practiced disruptive innovation the way it was intended. Seven different ways to treat a cholesterol problem is no longer considered innovative and only encourages diminishing returns on the investment. New and improved medical equipment and devices may incrementally increase outcomes, but at what cost and worth? Would the money have been better spent if it had been focused on innovative technology that breaks new medical ground?
The medical community, in an effort to stretch growth, often looks to what is mainstream as a means of generating new sources of income. A good example is the use of medical spas. It is a great idea, with short-term growth capabilities for the majority of medical providers. Disruptive innovation looks to break through mainstream ideals by introducing what is uncommon. It is not for the faint-of-heart and requires business acumen and strategic thinking as a prerequisite.
By nature and by training, the provider community is risk-adverse, causing many to duplicate business models or not question mainstream methodology. It traps medical providers into false security for a period of time. But, like any other business in any other industry, what they do becomes obsolete and their ability to earn income deteriorates if they don't keep an eye toward the future. It takes moxie to be disruptive and to learn the art of disruptive innovation in a way that benefits patients and providers by bringing value and success to both, not one over the other.
The central keys to successful disruptive innovation are: To know your patients, not just from a treatment standpoint, but also from a lifestyle point of view; To recognize what business you are in and how you contribute to the betterment of society by your distinction strategically; To be innovative in what you do in a way that is valued by the people you serve and aligns with your core principles and competencies; To have a culture that encourages innovation as a core principle of your business; To reach for excellence and raise the expectation of what excellence is among all that work with you; To use technology as a tool that encourages value and innovation; And most importantly, to have the moxie to be different in a way that shifts the paradigm of what is, so that the contribution improves society.
Disruptive innovation marries the art of medicine and the art of business, and by its very nature, is both revolutionary, yet quiet, and accepts change as an everyday occurrence. It demands strategic planning, research, and business acumen at its core to succeed. Those that lead the way and are willing to risk it appropriately are rewarded handsomely.