Aspiring healthcare entrepreneurs could be forgiven for assuming our most significant challenge is the need to reduce the cost of care. Investors and policy wonks alike seem to agree on the overriding need to focus on innovations that will improve efficiency and take costs out of the system.
The appeal of this approach is easy to understand: rising healthcare costs are a real problem, and business process improvement feels like something we already know how to do. Large companies like GE and Oracle are thrilled by the opportunity to apply their process methodologies to healthcare. Management journals love the idea of improving healthcare through operational excellence. An increasing number of foundations have also joined the fray, focused explicitly on supporting innovations that reduce the cost of care.
Yet, as much as operational improvements are urgently needed, they should not represent the primary goal of healthcare innovation.
If we’re truly interested in high value healthcare, we’d do well to keep in mind that for many, if not most serious or chronic diseases, at least in the absolute sense, high value care simply isn’t an option. We have embarrassingly few therapeutic approaches that can really do much to restore the lives of these patients. Sufferers afflicted with Alzheimers Disease, pancreatic cancer, brain tumors, and so many other conditions desperately require transformative breakthroughs, not the mucking around the edges that passes for treatment today.
Make no mistake: it’s critical we do the very best we can to provide compassionate, evidence-driven care for patients who are sick right now, and innovations that contribute to the identification and humanistic delivery of the best available care are vitally important.Continue reading…