Christensen Institute

Disruptive innovations within six integrated health systems

Investigator Clayton Christensen developed the theory of disruptive innovation in 2003, and with his colleagues Jason Hwang and Jerome Grossman, applied its principles to the health care delivery system. Disruptive innovations occur when new business or delivery models displace highly specialized and costly models. Health care is ripe for disruptive innovation because it is a complex and highly fragmented delivery system with a busy array of incentives that aren’t always aligned to promote quality or efficiency. Disruptive innovations in health and health care have the potential to decrease costs, while improving both the quality and accessibility of care.

This project examines seven integrated fixed-fee health care systems to identify critical factors necessary for facilitating disruptive innovation in health care. According to Christensen, “Integrated health systems that have combined functions of payer and provider create the capacity to introduce disruptive innovations that non-integrated systems simply cannot.” By looking at integrated fixed-fee providers through the lens of disruptive innovation theory, this project hopes to accelerate the adoption of disruptive innovations throughout the health care delivery system.

Innosight Institute changed its name to Christensen Institute in March 2014.

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Christensen Institute Inc.

Clayton M. Christensen
Project Director

Jason Hwang
Project Director

summary report

Disruptive Innovation In Integrated Care Delivery Systems

In this summary report,  researchers used a case-based investigation to uncover how seven integrated health systems appear to think, act, and innovate differently.

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case studies

Grand Valley Health Plan

This paper focuses on Grand Valley Health Plan, which has served the greater Grand Rapids, Michigan area for nearly 30 years as a regional, for-profit integrated delivery system, specializing in primary care with a guiding focus on wellness and prevention.

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Group Health Cooperative

This paper focuses on Group Health, which serves 600,000 members through its health plan. Group Health developed a high-engagement Medical Home model, where customers may have four to five times more touch points a year than in a traditional care delivery system.

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This case study focuses on HealthPartners, America's largest consumer-governed, nonprofit health care organization. HealthPartners’ integrated health system acts as both insurer and provider of care.

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Lancaster General Health

This paper focuses on Lancaster General Health, the only health system in this series of case studies that does not own a payor, but it operates as a clinically integrated delivery system with Lancaster General Hospital as its keystone.

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Presbyterian Healthcare Services

This paper focuses on Presbyterian Healthcare Services, the largest health system in New Mexico. The health system has no “narrow network” product, though approximately 10 percent of its clientele are users of all three Presbyterian services: the health plan, hospital, and medical group.

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Sentara Healthcare

This paper focuses on Sentara Healthcare, a not-for-profit health care system headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia. Sentara's mission is "to improve health every day" by offering health care at all levels, ranging from community health and primary care to hospital and nursing home services.

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Read what People are saying about the Innosight Institute...

...In Reuters: Analysis: Healthcare sees emerging future in frugal innovation"

...On "Innovation is Alive and Well in Health Care"

...On the Health Affairs Blog: "Integration Shown to Reduce Excess Referrals”

...In Managed Healthcare Executive: "Partial Integration has its Benefits"


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