Disruptive innovation is a concept that has been developed for analysing ways to improve health outcomes and reduce costs in the US health care system. The Expert Panel on Effective ways of Investing in Health (EXPH) was requested to focus on the implications of disruptive innovation for health and health care in Europe.
The Expert Panel understands “disruptive innovation” in health care as a type of innovation that creates new networks and new organisational cultures involving new players, and that has the potential to improve health outcomes and the value of health care. This innovation displaces older systems and ways of doing things.
The Expert Panel conceptualizes disruptive innovations as complex and multi- dimensional, categorising five dimensions of disruptive innovations: typology of business model, fluency of implementation, health purposes, fields of application and pivoting values.
The Expert Panel identified five strategic areas for disruptive innovation: translational research, access to new innovative technologies, precision medicine, health and care professional education and health promotion.
The implementation of any (disruptive) innovation should carefully address the issues of relevance, equity (including access), quality, cost-effectiveness, person- and people centredness, and sustainability. Health policy should be designed to encourage enablers for developing and implementing disruptive innovations and reduce the potential barriers.
While disruptive innovation can be an important concept for policy analysis, it does not mean that other types of innovation are less desirable. Sustaining innovations can be very important even when they are continuous, as well as more discontinuous innovations that may not be classified as disruptive.
Disruptive innovations can be an important mechanism for improvement of health and health care in Europe. Disruptive innovations provide new and different perspectives that, in the long run, tend to reduce costs and complexity in favour of improved access and the empowerment of the citizen/patient. Policy makers should thus, see disruptive innovations as possible new ways of developing sustainable European health systems.