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Disruptor! The word in itself is disruptive. But what exactly does it mean? Is it a negative attribute? And how is it relevant in the context of healthcare? Disruptor in the business world is synonymous with Professor Clayton Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation. His theory has specific criteria on market entry, enabling the build of an entirely new value proposition (Bye-bye BlackBerry. Hello iPhone).

The concept of Disruptor however is gaining traction beyond the frameworks of Harvard and Professor Christensen. The CNBC Disruptor 50 List is a veritable Who’s Who of innovation, transcending beyond tech start-ups into main stream industries, recognising companies whose innovations are revolutionising the business landscape. 

The website link to the CNBC Disruptor 50 List is of a partygoer wearing a rubber unicorn head. Peculiar! I have no idea how that got through quality control, but it is somehow very fitting. And I quite like it.

Disruptor is much more than a business framework. It evokes a feeling of something new, something different, something exciting. Breaking away from the status quo and doing something brave, or indeed disruptive!

Dr Mahiben Maruthappu, co-founder of the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) is taking inspiration from the CNBC Disruptor 50 List to drive the spread of innovation across the NHS. He believes disruptive solutions are present in healthcare, but they are not widely adopted. To try to address this, the NIA was founded. The NHS has declared itself “open for business” and proclaimed it cannot afford to turn off innovators with disruptive solutions anymore.

In the first six months over three million patients benefited from the NIA.  The NIA’s ambition is to work with innovators to drive the spread of their innovations, unblocking system barriers that they face. The first cohort of innovations range from apps and digital platforms, to devices and new models of care.

Whilst the move to innovation in the NHS is exciting, it is tempered by increasing controls in gaining market access. Existing mechanisms for patient access such as NICE appraisals and formulary inclusions are being frustrated by the healthcare system’s ability to implement. Capacity issues within services and financial pressures can limit patient access to innovative new therapies.

Traditional and historic market access strategies therefore do not always maximise the opportunities for patients to access treatment. Value propositions for example that do not take into account whole system impact or demonstrate value over and above acquisition costs just do not cut it anymore.

There is clearly a need to do things differently. This should be welcome news to Pharma. Innovation is something we know well!  To truly make its mark as the patients’ champion, Pharma needs to embrace the Disruptor mind-set. A mind-set that breaks away from the status quo…trying new things, adopting new approaches, and generating new levels of success.

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