For those being challenged to come up with new ways of delivering effective but less expensive health care, we have a suggestion: stop trying to think outside the box. Imagine that there was never a box to begin with. (For those who need reminding, the rate of healthcare cost has increased about 8% each of the last three years.)
Researchers at the McKinsey Quarterly found innovators in many places, including Mexico, Mali, India and New York City, who were coming up with no-box-ideas of treating patients in affordable but valuable ways. For example, in New York City, chronically ill patients are being remotely monitored, significantly reducing hospital admission rates. In Mexico, families can subscribe to a $5-a-month advice and triage service. In Pakistan, a chain of retail outlets sells condoms and provides health services for women and children. And so on.
Industry members should be able to see themselves fitting into these various scenarios. In Mexico, for example, subscribers with chronic diseases should be alerted when prescriptions need to be refilled; in Pakistan, they can provide counsel and advice on antibiotics. And so on.
The authors of the McKinsey article said that in the emerging markets, these entrepreneurs “face fewer constraints…so they can bypass Western models and forge new solutions.”
What an opportunity for learning and helping. We hope both sides are smart enough to recognize it.