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  • Writer's pictureOzzie Paez

Is Medicine Turning Gold Into Lead?

Updated: Aug 31, 2022

An astonishing 90%+ of Americans believe that yearly physicians and doctor visits are a good idea. It’s a marketing coup and an unparalleled opportunity for the medical community to deliver compelling value to its customer-patients. Surprisingly, a growing cadre of well-known doctors and providers actively oppose these services because some studies suggest they don’t improve patient outcomes and help drive the high costs of healthcare. The issue emerged during our recent Harvard cohort on Healthcare Economics, where it was treated with ambivalence, i.e. there are some benefits to checkups, but...

This is an instance where increasingly obsolete 50+ year-old traditional practices are considered without taking emerging technological innovations into account. It’s akin to evaluating horse-drawn wagons and concluding that pickup trucks are a bad idea. In the case of healthcare services, just as technological innovations that quantify health, fitness, and the quality of care are accelerating, mindsets and practices often remain anchored to 20th-century thinking.

The digital transformations of healthcare, health-care, and patient empowerment are irreversibly underway. Coping and leveraging this disruptive technological revolution will require more than new gadgets and equipment. As Columbia’s David Rogers, author of the Digital Transformation Playbook points out, “Digital transformation is not about technology—it is about strategy and new ways of thinking. Transforming for the digital age requires your business to upgrade its strategic mindset much more than its IT infrastructure.”

We integrated Rogers’ thinking and those of other innovators including Harvard Business School’s (HBS) Clayton Christensen to develop, update, and test innovative health services and delivery models. We also applied HBS’ Rebecca Henderson’s principle that to be successful, sustainable operational models must be financially viable. Central to our work are new classes of physiological sensors and systems that are redefining health monitoring, telehealth, accessibility, and costs. I will share some of our lessons learned through these efforts in the context of emerging high-value, cost-effective health checkups in upcoming posts.

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