Most people interested in innovation will have some familiarity with Harvard B-School professor Clayton Christensen and his classic books The Innovator’s Dilemma and The Innovator’s Solution. Christensen recently lectured at MIT on the topic of his upcoming book, The Innovator’s Prescription: A Disruptive Solution to Health Care. Christensen is an excellent lecturer and I recommend that you watch this video, courteously pointed to by Irving Wladawsky-Berger who also provides an excellent summary of the class. Make sure that you allot time for watching—the video is 88 minutes long.
Christensen spends the first half of the lecture reviewing the basic concepts of his first book: the process of disruptive innovation.
Here’s a tip for those who don’t want to watch the video or read his books: if you find yourself in a business that is happily conceding low-margin commodity business to small start-ups and happily retreating to the more lucrative high-margin business, be careful or you may end up as one of Christensen’s case-studies on extinction by disruptive innovation (you will never forget this lesson if you watch Christensen’s video).
I love the way that Christensen phrases his preventive medicine for avoiding extinction by disruptive innovation: create a division that is given an unfettered charter to kill the parent—imagine that mission statement on a conference room wall!
Christensen’s prediction for the future of health care (which begins around the 38–minute mark of the video) is that it will experience disruption due to three emerging technologies:
- molecular diagnostics,
- imaging technology,
- high-bandwidth telecommunication.
Part of his message is something that I heard biotech guru Steve Burrill talk about a couple of years ago when predicting future trends in biotech: that better diagnostics will allow health care professionals to treat causes rather than symptoms. I’ve talked about how my field of hearing impairment will go through a similar transition, with better diagnostics allowing us to identify the physiology behind different hearing loss etiologies and provide individualized treatments. This falls under the general theme of individualization in health care, a future trend not only in my field by in health care in general.
For the rest of Christensen’s thinking on innovation opportunities in health care, check out the video—it’s worth the time.