Thinking About Disruptive Change

Washington Post sold to Bezos

By: Jeff Cowart, BMc Consultant

I was intrigued by the headlines in the newspapers this morning about the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, acquiring one of the icons of American journalism, The Washington Post.

Newspapers are my old industry and I’ve lived through and watched them essentially lose the community information franchise they once owned, primarily because early on the leaders who were just too comfortable in old world models could not foresee how money could be made on the internet.

For the past dozen years, I’ve worked in the traditional model of hospitals and healthcare delivery. And, as our industry transitions into population health management, consumer-directed care, and telemedicine – just to name a few trends – I can’t help drawing parallels between my old industry and my new one.

Clearly, the traditional side of hospitals and health care must continue to maximize efficiency and effectiveness in a changing world. But, we should also be a major player in the emerging models of healthcare delivery. After all, like newspapers, we are in the best position to leverage our long experience and service as the foundations of new models.

Most important among our assets is our relationship with physicians. Our co-dependency in old models was largely built around providing “place” to practice. Our role in the new models could be as “trusted partner” in building new models of practice.

Today, we should be consistently engaged with our physicians in a conversation with a clear message:  Together we can win in this environment. After all, traditional hospitals and healthcare systems are in the best position to be a trusted broker of information and opportunity for physicians facing uncertainty in the new world of changing economics and models of consumer engagement.

Newspapers were once in a similar position of franchise opportunity. Now, a company not quite 20-years-old has announced it will own one of America’s most powerful media brands.

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