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What Jobs Do Patients Want Us To Do?


Harvard Business School guru Clayton Christensen, of disruption fame, urges us to look at products and services that companies produce as the “job” customers are “hiring” a product or service to do.

Harvard Business School guru Clayton Christensen, of disruption fame, urges us to look at products and services that companies produce as the “job” customers are “hiring” a product or service to do.

Sick care, USA, is trying to figure out what patient-customers want beyond just making them better. An episode of care no longer seems to suffice. Instead, they want a whole product solution. What might that look like?

1. Disruption is a process.

Technologies and innovations evolve. In the case of sick care, there are significant cultural and structural barriers to adoption and penetration, so it sometimes takes an inordinately long time for an idea, invention, or discovery to reach a patient. While many have suggested ways to accelerate the process, nature will take its course, and she does not like to be rushed. Community-based innovation initiatives are multiplying exponentially and will fill the funnel with ideas. However, the trickle down to the bottom happens faster from pull, not push.

2. Disrupters often build business models that are very different from those of incumbents.

Business models describe how a firm creates, develops, and harvests user defined value. Sick care is one of the most highly regulated industries, so are there many things that can affect whether a given business model will work, either because of or despite the rules. Putting old sick care wine in a new bottle won't create services and products that are cheaper, better, easier to use and more convenient to access. The goals of true sick care disruptive innovation is to make existing business models not just better, but obsolete. The present clumsy and expensive HIT infrastructure and business model threatens to bankrupt at risk hospitals, like rural hospitals and small-medium sized independent practitioners. When will we see an HIT McIntosh that is a whole product solution?

3. Some disruptive innovations succeed; some don’t.

There are many reasons why the dog won't eat the food. Maybe it's due to the wrong product-market mix. Maybe the FDA got in the way. How about too many features and not enough benefits? Or, more simply in the case of digital health, the product simply does not do what you promise it will do. Call it disruption or call it a banana, there are no guarantees in life or business, particularly when you are tackling the sick care Goliath.

4. The mantra “Disrupt or be disrupted” can misguide us.

You really don't have to throw out the baby with the bath water. After all, staying alive for most means paying most of your attention to the now instead of the new and most sick care organizations have trouble enough with those priorities. The fact is that most change and innovation initiatives will fail. Wandering into the land of the unknown takes know-how and courage, something that is usually not rewarded when it comes bonus time.

With this mind, patients want us to:

  1. Make them better
  2. Touch them
  3. Given them peace of mind
  4. Not bankrupt them
  5. Not do things to them we shouldn't do
  6. Not hurt them
  7. Give them the information, tools and incentives they need to help themselves
  8. Create a reasonable service experience
  9. Understand their context of care i.e. socioeconomic factors they face that will impact care decisions
  10. Make them first

Doctoring is about relieving patient pain and suffering by applying cognitive, technical and communication skills. Doing all the rest is about doing the job customers want us to do.

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