By Julie Williamson

Elevate Your Perspective to Get a Clear View on Healthcare Disruption

Health care in the United States is in the midst of a fundamental transformation, and the system is seeking to reward those organizations that can successfully maintain the health of their patient populations. This is in stark contrast with the old model of rewarding the care provider for the number of treatments completed. Not surprisingly, this shift from the old fee-for-service model to the new value-based model is perceived as being difficult and fraught with risk.

In the midst of this market disruption, there are some integrated health networks that have been pioneers, working at the leading edge of adopting new care models, payment structures, and technology implementations. Not every organization can take on the substantial risk that pushing the envelope entails, but that doesn’t mean they can’t work to be disruptive forces in their market or industry.

“For most companies, it is a very difficult position to take, to upturn the apple cart and do something completely different,” said Julie Williamson, vice president, strategy and research for Karrikins Group and co-author of the book Matter: Move Beyond the Competition, Create More Value, and Become the Obvious Choice. She suggests examining what it is that makes your company unique and, specifically, the value it brings to the marketplace. Using this understanding for perspective, then look out into the industry and the broader market—not just your industry, but other spaces—and see the disruptions that are happening relative to the value you are trying to provide.

Assessing these two dynamics allows company executives to develop an “elevated perspective” about the company’s position in the market, the disruptions that are happening, and where they can make substantial changes within the organization that affect not just the company, but the industry and market. “That is the concept of being on the edge of disruption, instead of just falling into it and letting the chips fall where they may,” Williamson said. She delivered a keynote session at ANI: the 2016 HFMA National Institute that highlighted ways for organizations of all sizes to make their own disruptive transformations.

Elevate Your Perspective

To elevate your perspective and define the edge of disruption for your organization, company leaders need to become curious about what is going on not just within the healthcare industry, but also in other, non-related, industries. This is fundamentally a learning exercise and one that you should encourage others on staff to engage in as well. It takes healthy questioning from all involved to successfully define a company’s competitive edge.

“One of the things we find often in our clients is they become myopic to what is happening in the world,” Williamson noted. “So, disruptions, even small disruptions, feel huge. And there are important disruptions they might not know about or see how those disruptions impact them, or connect to them. So, one of the first things we encourage people to do is to find the time and the space to learn about what is happening more broadly.”

Likewise, Williamson added, company leaders should bring their customers into the process to find out those things that really matter to them, as well as their views on what they value about the relationship and the services they provide. “We are huge advocates of co-creating your perspective, because what you assume are your strengths may be what is holding you back, and you may not even realize what your customers actually value or what your market values,” she said. “It is really important to get that outside view as you are working to elevate your perspective.”

Elevate Your Relationships

Once a company has elevated its perspective to understand its own edge of disruption, it will need strong relationships to implement planned changes. Working on this edge means the company can have significant influence on its market, industry, and the customers with whom it does business. Any transformation in the company doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and, just as elevating perspective should be a co-creating activity, so, too, should you seek industry partners and customers who are willing to work with you to redefine how you conduct business.

One company that has effectively elevated its relationships, Williamson said, is healthcare supply-chain management company GHX. “They know the distributors, the suppliers, and the hospitals and other care providers. They have brought them all together to work on some pretty major industry challenges,” she said. “Having the relationships to be able to get that kind of collaboration to meaningfully change the market is a great example of the power of elevated relationships.”

Further, by developing elevated relationships, organizations are empowered to sell into higher levels of customers’ companies to elevate the value of the products and services provided. Williamson used Lakeside, a Canadian logistics company that at one time was fighting tooth and nail with other companies to book $50 freight lanes, as an example of this kind of change. Its disruption was to back away from the low-value, commoditized market of providing freight services $50 at a time to becoming a freight logistics company. Today, it is not uncommon for Lakeside to sell $1 million to $5 million contracts to manage an entire company’s logistics needs.

Elevate Your Impact

Defining your edge of disruption and identifying market need will make no difference if you don’t execute on the idea. This is often where the hard work begins, even after a company has built the foundation for understanding the needed disruption and leveraged relationships with others who can be brought along on the journey.

“I think people get stuck here because often this is where money comes in. You have to spend a little to get a little, and this is where the risk becomes real,” Williamson noted. “The courage to answer the call and take the leap comes from your elevated perspective and relationships, and your commitment to make sometimes profound changes—to see the world differently.”

The drive to elevate your impact manifests in the effort necessary to reorganize how a company does business, it can potentially fall flat if companies’ leadership hasn’t given full weight to elevating their perspective and their relationships. “People make assumptions about their customers and markets, and, most often, it is that customers want what they have always wanted,” Williamson concluded. “This view means a couple of things. One, they don’t have the right relationships to help them really understand what the impacts are of the various disruptions that are going on for their customers and within their market. And, two, they haven’t stepped out far enough in developing an elevated perspective, because they don’t have a full understanding of what they could be doing in order to create value.”

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