Healthcare Should Learn from Big Box Retailers

June 20, 2017 By InTouch Health 

What economists call “digital disruption” has a different name at Sears and JC Penney: annihilation.

Because of online shopping, Sears’ market value has dropped from $27 billion in 2006 to just $1.2 billion today. In that same period, Amazon’s market value has increased from $17 billion to an astonishing $428 billion.

The corollary for the healthcare field is that you don’t need to build thousands of new brick-and-mortar hospitals and clinics to deliver high-caliber care. Overspending on new facilities can be a financial albatross. According to Realty Trust Group’s Greg Gheen, real estate already accounts for about one-third of most hospitals’ balance sheet.

With telehealth technology, many hospitals don’t need to add a single square foot of new construction. Instead, they can leverage the expertise found at massive hospitals built long ago. 

In healthcare, digital disruption on a large scale is just beginning. It’s gaining steam, however, from ventures like Health2047 and the Physician Innovation Network. The former is a San Francisco startup that aims to bridge the gap between Silicon Valley and the medical world. The latter is a group that connects tech-savvy doctors with today’s most promising healthcare entrepreneurs.

Northwestern Memorial health system in Chicago has already named Dr. Lyle Berkowitz to the post of “Director of Innovation” – and many health systems are likely to follow their lead. Northwestern is focusing on four key areas: telehealth, value-based care, workflow efficiency and the digital patient experience. Call it “disruption” if you like. We prefer to call it timely and smart.

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