Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Integrative Health as a Disruptive Technology

As I read Discovering New and Emerging Markets and Blue Ocean Strategy, I immediately thought about the rapidly changing healthcare system and the growing popularity of Integrative Health. According to East Meets West: How Integrative Medicine is Changing Health Care, Integrative Medicine is described "as a practice that “cherry picks” the best and scientifically supported therapies of both systems", that is traditional bio-medical medicine and alternative therapies. Among the many benefits of integrative health, it focuses on preventative health and healing by analyzing root causes and understanding the effects on the mind, body and spirit. This cherry picking approach facilitates a great degree of personalization when considering the context of the patient and their symptoms. What's extremely valuable about integrative medicine is the interest practitioners have in understanding what the mind, body and spirit are trying to manifest through the symptoms rather than the actual symptom itself. The demand for integrative medicine is increasing because the philosophy and the services provided. Health interventions in relaxation therapy for example range from yoga to tai chi with message therapy in between. Integrative is indeed a disruptive technology within healthcare industry and are adapting blue ocean strategies to propel the practice. 

One factor that makes integrative health a disruptive technology is the lack of planning. Most things seem to be up in the air which facilitates exploration in payment models, reimbursements and care delivery. Integrative health is constantly learning as they gain more and more experience from patients. Majority of integrative health existence has been made possible through knowledge gained from research and practice of 'alternative medicine'. No-one knows (although there are goals and ideas) exactly where it is going. Over the past decade more and more medical schools and hospitals systems are designing integrative health programs and offering accompanying services. However, there are many traditional healthcare providers who are fully committed to bio-medicine and bio-medicine only. This puts proponents of integrative health in a precarious and risky situation in relation to their credibility and providing 'evidence-based medicine'. Despite the chastisement of different forms of health used in different regions of the world (India, China and Africa), somehow, leaders in integrative medicine are making a big and bold statement especially in a critical time where preventative health is highly valued.   

Similar to Cirque's interest in understanding what is most important to the circus going audiences Integrative medicine realizes that patients are mostly interested in restoring health, the providers' knowledge and expertise in addition to the ability to understand and communicate health experience and concerns. It all comes down to whether or not the form of treatment is effective and safe. Integrated medicine's cherry picking approach provides all of these advantages that the traditional healthcare system continues to struggle with. This emerging field is and will continue to create and capturing new demand for a far more tremendous amount of value and cost. If individuals were able to identify the social and bio-medical root causes of their health issues they (as well as the healthcare system) would save so much more dollars. Cost would be reduced because people will be more focused on managing the root causes reducing the amount of experimental tests, surgical procedures and unnecessary medications (depending of condition). Despite how simple this might sound, it will a complicated process for the healthcare field to undertake. 


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