Sooner or later, all businesses, even the most successful, run out of room to grow. Faced with this unpleasant reality, they are compelled to reinvent themselves periodically. The ability to pull off this difficult feat—to jump from the maturity stage of one business to the growth stage of the next—is what separates high performers from those whose time at the top is all too brief. The potential consequences are dire for any organization that fails to reinvent itself in time. As demonstrated in the book Stall Points, once a company runs up against a major stall in its growth, it has less than a 10% chance of ever fully recovering. Those odds are certainly daunting, and they do much to explain why two-thirds of stalled companies are later acquired, taken private, or forced into bankruptcy. Making a commitment to reinvention before the need is one of the key differentiators for the companies that successfully reinvent versus failed.

The answer could be in the concept of “The Sigmoid Curve,” written about by Charles Handy in “The Age of the Paradox.” Imagine the Sigmoid Curve as the curve of an organization or an entire economic region. The curve initially declines in a time of experimenting and learning, then rises in a period of growth and prosperity, and finally declines leading to the end. The key to sustaining a healthy business or a healthy region is to make a transformation to a new curve before the current one is too far in decline.

The traditional healthcare business is an interesting example. Over the last decade, there is significant digitization of health data. Legislation changes challenged the status quo over the traditional fee for service model of healthcare delivery to push for pay for performance models. The notion of care for the population base rather than individual patients started to emerge. Public health and social determinants of health started to play a role in treatment plans. At the same time, fueled by the accelerated pace of genome sequencing, personalized and targeted therapeutics began to emerge rapidly than ever. Various chronic and rare diseases were targeted through personalized genomics as a method of treatment.

During the same period, software and technology advancements brought in a new wave of technology innovations. Artificial Intelligence/Machine learning, Internet of things, blockchain started becoming mainstream.

These tectonic shifts are a move towards a more integrated health ecosystem (A new S curve?) which focuses on comprehensive disease classification that combines information from biomedical-research, public health, and health-care-delivery communities towards advancing knowledge of disease pathogens and improving health. These integrated health ecosystems can be termed as Precision Health Systems. The focus of “precision medicine” is to explore how treatment or prevention approaches can be developed based on the combination of genetic, environmental, and social factors which could be targeted to individuals or populations. Precision medicine and personalized medicine are highly related and genomics plays a big role in both. However, even highly personalized information may or may not lead to improved health outcomes. Moreover, precision medicine approaches may lead to non-personalized interventions that can be used population-wide.

To position themselves to jump to the next business S curve, the healthcare organizations need to not only focus on internal process changes, but also look for appropriate partners to help accelerate the overall transformation journey. Partners who have the same transformation mindset to be able to help accelerate this journey can prove to be vital during the overall journey.

Persistent Systems is fortunate to work with leaders in the healthcare industry as part of some of these transformations. This ranges from public health innovations to healthcare research innovations to build learning health systems, to healthcare interoperability and operational excellence. Our collaboration with Partners Healthcare in Massachusetts is also geared towards an open source platform to fuel precision health systems. My colleagues RahulSawad and many others have written about the changing nature of healthcare and so has our board member Tom Kendra. Our focus on working with partners to fuel innovations also speaks about the transformation mindset of the organization. Our partners small and large along with various innovative start-ups incubated from our partner organizations like eNreRxHealth and others are only adding fuel to the fire.

We would love to be part of your organizations S curve journey. Feel free to write to me, drop us a note or meet us at HIMSS if you are at the event.