Learning resilience from other industries

Last week the Advisory Board Company held its second colloquium for Fellows in Washington D.C. with the topic being ‘The Health Care Ecosystem’. As just one of two vendor participants asked to join this fellowship with distinguished healthcare provider leaders, I was interested to hear the challenges and opportunities facing these organizations first hand.

A central theme last week was the concept of developing resilience for healthcare systems. The framework suggests resilience increases when healthcare systems can simultaneously exert control and adapt to external forces of public policy, economics, demographics and technology. One of the directors for the Advisory Board summed it up by saying “Our aspiration for you is to be leaders that can see up and around the bend.

What happens when industries are not resilient

To illustrate the importance of this concept the Fellowship reviewed the Harvard Business School case on U.S. Steel. In the 1970s, the U.S. steel industry faced a steep decline, forcing more than 30 companies into bankruptcy by the year 2000.

Companies grappled with competition from foreign companies and substitute materials. So called ‘mini-mills’ completely changed the landscape and cost structure for the industry. To wrap the case the facilitator read excerpts from Fortune Magazine’sAutopsy’ of Bethlehem Steel where the real cause of death was leadership’s lack of understanding that they needed to adapt and change.

A comment from a Fellow brought the discussion back to the implications for healthcare:

“In health care we’re great at protecting ourselves from what’s going on in other industries…we tell ourselves that what works in other industries won’t work here or for some reason we’re different.”

Exerting control and adapting in health care

At some point, every industry faces a monumental shift that requires resilience. Rather than delineate the differences between health care and other industries, it’s time to learn from them.

What actions have other industries taken to exert control and adapt to the forces of public policy, economics, demographics and technology that CAN work in health care?


About the author

Michael Loesel, director, strategic marketing, is responsible for managing and growing deep, productive relationships on behalf of Allscripts with industry analysts including The Advisory Board, Gartner, KLAS, IDC, and others. Michael also oversees market research functions, with the goal of delivering actionable insight to the organization. Michael’s team provides the market perspectives to senior management and the board in support of annual strategic planning. Prior to Allscripts, Michael worked at GE Healthcare and started its Analyst Relations function. Prior to joining GE Healthcare, Michael worked as a marketing strategy consultant helping clients such as SBC, Allstate, Whirlpool, and Grainger grow through marketing and innovation investments.

2 COMMENTS on Learning resilience from other industries


Stephen Johnston says:

03/25/2013 at 8:25 pm

Good article. It is becoming clearer that the healthcare sector will need to disavow itself of any notions of “unique, special, different” in order to safely accomodate change or avert threats. A focus on resilience is a good approach.


Jacob Plummer says:

03/27/2013 at 3:27 pm

Michael, your example about Bethlehem is all too familiar. Today’s healthcare policymakers and businesspeople are facing confounding questions at every turn. These days a hospital CEO may be feeling a little bit like Gary Cooper in High Noon – outnumbered in a big way.

But couldn’t help be on the way, or, couldn’t we find a mini-mill too?

Consider the disruptive effect of a San Francisco company called Uber, a plucky company that is eliminating long wait times for taxis. Here’s a question I tried to address – could we Uber-ize the healthcare environment to lower wait times for patient care? If you’d like to noodle on that a little, visit The Health Care Blog at http://bit.ly/11AkimW. And please, feel free to comment on what you think!


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