From digital health startups to primary care groups, companies are increasingly branding themselves2 as tech companies first, health care companies second. Shunning ties to the mission-driven health care sector may seem counterintuitive at best and sacrilegious at worst.
Yet for many new entrants, such an approach — which we call avoidant positioning — is becoming the norm. We unpack three weaknesses of the health care label that may be fueling a broader identity crisis for these firms, and suggest that this trend represents a wake-up call for health care.
Health care, by virtue of its biomedical underpinnings, gives great credence to following the scientific method before embracing new initiatives. Physicians are often skeptical of new interventions without convincing evidence. The rigorous process of evaluating a new pharmaceutical product or the complex methodology of a randomized clinical trial, however, often cannot be applied to a delivery-side intervention like a new care model. Innovations in health care delivery are better evaluated through multiple small-scale, iterative pilots that let stakeholders validate hypotheses before moving into a scaled model.
To the extent that physicians are starting to appreciate the benefits3 of a piloted approach, there is still a certain inertia4 in spreading the lessons of a successful program across an enterprise. There are many reasons for this, including cultural resistance, financial short-sightedness, organizational complexity, and risk-averse leadership.