Can Healthcare Disruptions Be Beneficial For Patients?

Eventually, disruption comes for every market. Though healthcare is an essential human service, various technologies are actively disrupting how healthcare functions — which can ultimately be good for patients and care.

To continue serving patients appropriately now and in the years to come, healthcare professionals, especially administrators and managers, will likely find it helpful to understand what, exactly, disruption in healthcare means. Here are some popular definitions and emerging examples of healthcare industry disruption and predictions.

What Is Healthcare Disruption?

Different healthcare leaders define disruption in different ways. Some popular definitions of industry disruption from healthcare executives include:

  • A fracturing of the established healthcare market, enabling new participants to enter.
  • A forced and rapid reorganization of the status quo in response to a new stimulus.
  • A challenge to underlying assumptions about the healthcare industry.
  • A change to the methods and technologies used by a healthcare organization.
  • A forced transition to a healthcare organization from an external influence.
  • An innovation that can be scaled across an entire healthcare system.
  • An innovation that enhances efficiency and sparks change.
  • A beneficial process that can improve the healthcare industry’s ability to help people.

As demonstrated above, there isn’t much consensus on what healthcare disruption means or what it entails. Generally, disruption is an interruption to a market’s normal operating procedure; it often involves non-conventional business models or technology. But ultimately, it causes established organizations to rethink their current processes and systems.

What Are Examples of Current Disruptions?

healthcare disruption

In healthcare, disruption goes hand-in-hand with innovation — but the two are not synonymous. Innovations are tools used by companies to gain a competitive edge in the marketplace. Those interested in health systems management can learn about managing change and disruption in the industry by taking online short courses that develop their leadership skills. Then, they can invest time and energy into learning more about innovations that are currently responsible for disrupting healthcare, such as:


The Internet of Things (IoT) consists of several devices that connect to the internet and each other, collecting and transmitting data. Healthcare providers can develop medical IoT devices or use consumer IoT devices already available to collect patient data, communicate with patients and otherwise stay connected to patients. However, healthcare organizations need to prioritize the security of patient data when utilizing the IoT, which is notoriously insecure.


Artificial intelligence is among the most exciting technologies currently emerging in healthcare. AI has the potential to provide a number of exceedingly useful benefits to healthcare providers and patients, such as analyzing medical images, developing new medicines and treatments, predicting disease, assisting emergency medical staff, improving health equity and more. Though AI tools won’t replace providers, as some dystopian science fiction may fear, they will at the very least become invaluable tools on healthcare’s administrative side.


The COVID pandemic rapidly accelerated the development and acceptance of telehealth services. Before coronavirus shut down most providers’ offices, telemedicine was barely a $3 billion industry, and today, it could be worth more than $250 billion. Perhaps one of the most significant disruptions of the healthcare industry in recent years. Telemedicine is here to stay, and providers need to consider how integrating telehealth solutions (or neglecting to do so) will impact their business.

Patient Rights

In the U.S., patient rights have evolved slowly over the past century and continue to shift. Patients gained a Bill of Rights with the Affordable Care Act, which spells out rights to respectful behavior, confidentiality, emergency services and more. Just recently, patients gained the right to greater transparency in health services pricing. Healthcare organizations need to remain cognizant of patient rights in developing their processes and procedures.

Public Policy

The U.S. is the only industrialized nation without universal healthcare, and though a single-payer system might be years (if not decades) away, America is certainly poised for a shift in its healthcare policy. The policy could radically shift how healthcare providers operate, so organizations need to stay abreast of developing policy decisions at local, state and national levels.

WE SAID THIS: Healthcare experiences more than its fair share of disruption — but as long as organizations are able to deliver the care patients need, disruption can be an excellent force for good!