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The Business of Healthcare Innovation

2 Ratings: 4.0
A book by Lawton Robert Burns

"Never has the need for a reasoned analysis of the business of healthcare innovation been greater. The costs of innovation have been escalating steadily for decades and the willingness and ability of society to fund ongoing innovation is under strain. … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Lawton Robert Burns
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
1 review about The Business of Healthcare Innovation

An Overdue Analysis of a Critically Important Subject

  • Mar 9, 2006
Rating:
+5
For all U.S. taxpayers and those who employ them, healthcare is one of the most important industries and yet, for most of taxpayers, it is probably the least understood. According to Burns, almost all attention has previously been focused on those who pay for and on who provide healthcare services. He explains that, in this book, he and other contributors focus their attention on the producers of healthcare products.

This book was primarily written for two different audiences: students and their teachers in graduate programs of health administration, and practitioners in each of several sectors (pharmaceutical, biotechnology, genomics and proteomics, medical device, and information technology) "not so much to educate them about their own sphere of activity, but rather to educate them about the other sectors that are increasingly interdependent with their own." The five industry sectors "are responsible for supplying a majority of the innovative products utilized by physicians and hospitals and which are increasingly demanded by consumers." As is later explained, "This supply and demand logic has exerted both positive and negative effects."

Of special interest to me is what Burns and other contributors have to say about innovative thinking and why it is not only important but indeed essential to the healthcare industry. (Much of the innovation is achieved in the information technology sector which Jeff F. Goldsmith examines in depth in Chapter 7.) Because the aforementioned five sectors are all for profit, Burns and associates examine the business models and corporate strategies of firms in those sectors. "As a result, the book may be more at home in health administration programs located in business schools [e.g. Wharton at which Burns is the James Joo-Jin Kim Professor, and Professor of Health Care Systems], but it may still be useful for programs in schools of public health and public administration." Given the rapidly increasing costs of healthcare, and especially given the fact that there is not as net a national public health program, my own opinion is that all public officials should read this book. I also highly recommend this book to all organizations which currently do business -- or are planning to business with -- producers of healthcare products.

Make no mistake about it: This is not an "easy read" but I hasten to add, that it rewards generously those who read it with appropriate care. Although healthcare students and their teachers comprise one of its primary audiences, this not so much a textbook as it is a rigorous analysis of urgent issues and significant crises which should also be of interest to senior-level executives of organizations which assume the substantial costs of coverage for those involved, for example, and to those in the news media who have -- until now -- devoted little (if any) attention to producers of healthcare products, other than to draw attention to their quarterly and annual financial data.

For me, the most interesting and most valuable material is provided with the last chapter, "Healthcare innovation across sectors: convergences and divergences," which Burns co-authored with Stephen M. Sammut. Obviously, it is highly advisable to read the seven chapters which precede it to derive full benefit from it. Burns and Sammut summarize the technological developments across all of the five segments (i.e. pharmaceutical, biotechnology, genomics and proteomics, medical device, and information technology) and suggest what can be learned about the business of innovation in healthcare. They carefully examine "various changes in market structure of each sector, the major business models used in each sector, the key success factors and distinctive capabilities of firms in each sector, the convergence between and among sectors, the formulation of value-adding alliances, and the managerial skills needed to sustain innovation and change in each sector."

Obviously, this is not a book for everyone but, now that I have read and then re-read it, I think The Business of Healthcare Innovation will be of substantial value to far more people than I originally assumed.

Bravo!

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