“What do you do when all the beer tastes the same?”

At Better Health Twin Cities this wasn’t a critique of the local draft selection but a wake-up call for the healthcare industry. Innosight’s Chatham Sullivan, our facilitator and thought leader, gave an overview of industry change, highlighting the way Carter-era legislation permitting home-brewing inspired a wave of innovation in the American beer industry that capitalized on long-stifled consumer demand and led to hundreds of specialized micro-breweries. One of our guests then stood up and framed the challenge of care delivery in those terms: When it comes to the patient experience, all the “beer” tastes the same.

The Twin Cities are currently going through their own craft brewery revolution thanks to recent regulatory changes and entrepreneurial energy. More to the point of our healthcare event, the patient experience is showing early signs of dramatic change, too.

As local entrepreneur and RetraceHealth founder Thompson Aderinkomi, stated bluntly: “In ten years, the majority of your healthcare will be delivered by companies that don't even exist today.”

No More Minnesota Nice Guy

Don’t let the reputation for “Minnesota Nice” fool you. Although the Minneapolis and St. Paul area, along with nearby Rochester, has long been a hub of healthcare innovation and care excellence, the local innovators were impatient with the current pace of industry transformation and passionate about the need for fundamental change in business models, delivery systems, and mindsets.

The day was filled with robust calls for action and compelling stories of practical innovation. Thompson Aderinkomi sounded like the Elon Musk of healthcare when he declared that he wants to “drive the cost of healthcare to zero, and the quality to infinity.” Amy Nelson, who started her business, Accurate Home Care, when she was 18, exhibits a sense of purpose and customer-understanding that could make her the Steve Jobs of homecare. Indeed, across the board, the urgency and scope of our innovators’ visions was only matched by their business savvy and determination. From the Mayo Clinic and Thrifty White Pharmacy to Twin Cities Orthopedics and Transfuse Solutions, local healthcare leaders are driving new approaches to reduce care costs while increasing value.

5 Loud and Clear Lessons

It was striking how closely the local innovators and guests were aligned. The themes that emerged from their dialogue could be the first draft of a manifesto for advancing local change:

  • Beware when “all the beer tastes the same”
  • Lack of differentiation in service and quality is a sign of pent-up demand for new value
  • Old ways “have to die”
  • Disruption is the not the sole province of the “Davids” in healthcare. Goliaths must also seek to disrupt old ways to accelerate progress—the Mayo Center for Innovation represents a compelling example.
  • In Minneapolis St. Paul, don’t forget what else “MSP” stands for
  • Healthcare innovations must be Measurable, Scalable, and Profitable to thrive
  • “This is the time. We need to do this together.”
  • As Bob Narveson of Thrifty White said, collaboration must be stepped up across segments, along the continuum, and between competitors to create a better care experience and maximize the business opportunity for all stakeholders
  • The more people say ”No,” the bigger the opportunity to the attuned innovator
  • Innovators are fueled by resistance and criticism, whether from internal or external colleagues, because they appreciate that such criticism signals that they are breaking new ground

An Inevitable March Toward Better

The energy of the overall conversation reinforced our belief that the true innovation in healthcare today is in the area of business model innovation. It also gave us an optimistic sense that we are participating in an inevitable march toward a more consumer-oriented system that supports individual, community, and economic health.

One of our guests wrote a note after the event to say that the great group of leaders we had assembled from across all segments of healthcare had inspired her to go back to her organization and focus on transformational change (“steam”) rather than incremental change (“sails”).

That thank you – along with the energy and inspiration we saw on display – gave us a feeling that the future of healthcare in the Twin Cities is very bright. MSP will continue to lead the way in demonstrating how the Davids and Goliaths of our industry can work together to create a healthier world in which both businesses and patients will thrive. 

The Better Health Tour

Like politics, all healthcare is local. But what can local businesses do to transform their organizations and the community in an ecosystem as complex as healthcare? The Better Health Tour is an opportunity for local healthcare leaders to engage in candid and meaningful conversations about the future of healthcare in select cities.

The conferences in Portland, Boston and the Twin Cities enable an exchange of ideas between local leaders across organizational barriers, industry segments, traditional interests and points of view. The aim is to help broaden perspectives, to challenge and redefine priorities, and to catalyze the development of innovative approaches that will strengthen the local healthcare ecosystem.

That’s why McKesson is presenting the Better Health Tour. It’s not a marketing event or a trade show. We believe that the challenges of healthcare will only be solved by generating practical ideas, innovative approaches and new growth in the healthcare industry at the local level.

The events have been designed to identify opportunities that will enable transformative innovation and provide participants with a new framework for thinking about the practical solutions that will lead to better health for both their own organizations and the community.

Andy Burtis

About the author

A midwesterner by birth and a Californian at heart, Andy Burtis is SVP of Corporate Marketing and Communications at McKesson Corporation. His responsibilities include corporate brand strategy, public relations, McKesson.com, employee communications, executive communications and event marketing. Prior to joining McKesson in 2006, Burtis was senior director of Marketing Communications for Siebel Systems. He holds a BA degree from Carleton College and an MBA from Harvard Business School.