What Health Care Can Learn From Whole Foods And Apple

Jonathan Bush | LinkedIn | December 2, 2013

A few weeks back, I shared my thoughts on why the incentive system in health care is broken, and ranted about the ridiculous amount of profit being created by some health systems (yes, including non-profits) that’s in opposition to what patients need and deserve. It’s not that I think profit is bad, quite the contrary. Profit is good, very good, unless it’s created in opposition to the market you’re serving which, in this case, happens to be patients. So, what’s the crux of the problem?

It’s not about profits or non-profits. It’s not about good people or bad people. It’s about the lack of frontiers.

The Frontier of Health Care

If you look at companies like Whole Foods, Apple and Southwest Airlines you can see they had everything to gain and little to lose early in their evolutions. They took on the status quo, which arguably was working and leading in their respective industries: ordinary grocery stores, utilitarian computing, and layovers topped with bad salads. These companies each saw a frontier where they could bring more to the market — widely available fresh, local food, Mac computers, and cheap direct flights. They innovated on the edge of established markets whose frontiers were behind them and, through their innovation, they found extraordinary profit.