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  • Writer's pictureOzzie Paez

Harvard's Healthcare Strategy lessons

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

We just passed the halfway point of Harvard Business School's Digital Strategy cohort. The course, led by economist Dr. Leemore S. Dafny, delivers compelling value for healthcare executives and developers of innovative clinical technologies. What distinguishes it is the application of Michal Potter’s Five Forces Model to emerging healthcare business and care delivery models. The Five Forces Model has been successfully applied across industries for over 40 years.


The presentations rely on use cases to demonstrate how strategic analyses can help deliver compelling benefits for key healthcare stakeholders: Providers, Payers, and Patients. Short interviews and lesson videos describe and highlight the value of strategy analysis, development, and application. They also contrast compensation models and their influence on care delivery and quality. Of particular benefit are discussions and case studies contrasting the incentives of different payer models including fee-for-service and capitation.

Shortcomings? Of the three stakeholders, the healthcare industry has consistently framed patients more as passengers than customers. The landscape is rapidly changing and there are exceptions, particularly in practices with singular value propositions such as fertility services, which are illuminated through a case study. One refreshing standout is Oak Street Health (OPH) whose business and care delivery models center on patients, their individual needs, and strategies for keeping them healthy and out of the hospital. OPH’s strategy helps them exploit innovative technologies to sustainably deliver more compelling business and patient value. I will discuss their innovative strategy in later posts.


My colleagues and I will be incorporating lessons from HBS' Healthcare Strategy cohort into our solutions toolbox, which includes strategies, models, and frameworks inspired by another Harvard luminary, the late Clayton Christensen. Technological innovations are changing healthcare’s competitive landscape and challenging legacy business and care delivery paradigms. Providers are responding through innovation and transformation initiatives. Strategy helps them define their approach to market competition. Their business/care delivery models make strategy operational. I’ll provide additional insights on these and related topics at the end of the cohort.


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