Like a river, change is constant

Like a river, change is constant

My wife and I were once lucky enough to hike the Grand Canyon, making our way down from the South Rim to Bright Angel Campground. I can’t possibly recommend the experience enough.

It’s amazing to be inside that place and see what the river has created. Despite all the obvious evidence around us, it was hard to believe that anything was ever any different. That, in fact, the water had cut out a meandering, changing path through over a mile of rock.

Our guide described how some of this took millions of years, but that there is also evidence of dramatic changes driven by cataclysmic events. I think of the progression (let’s think positively) of healthcare the same way.

Often, little seems to change—maybe some regulations here and there that open or close opportunities. Maybe some new technologies, procedures, business models. But at other times, we have Edward Jenner figuring out vaccinations, Louis Pasteur giving us safer food, and world wars driving innovation in trauma care. Perhaps our current challenge, COVID-19, will give rise to higher levels of respect and investment in public health, infectious disease, and preventive care efforts.

The important point here is that every change—slow or fast, large or small—creates both opportunities and risks. Risks of not adjusting to the new dynamic, either by choice or ability. Opportunities to embrace the new concept, process, or market conditions and lead the industry into an upward trajectory.

So, what can you do to navigate an unpredictable and constantly changing landscape? Today, while many companies are “turtling,” pulling their heads in and going into self-protective mode, others like Fidelity and Amazon are leaning in. They realize that crises offer the best time to invest in themselves and their businesses—to get more efficient and prepare to grow when the market comes back.

It’s important, no matter the industry, to look beyond the immediate risks and prepare for the long-term opportunities. We see many of our payer clients doing the same. They’re investing in optimization solutions now to double down on short-term ROI, long-term transformation, and a sustainable growth strategy. They are tightening up internal workflows and associated costs to be more efficient and agile and control administrative expenses.

Health plans with more agile product lifecycle management can jump-start speed-to-market with the innovative products consumers are expecting. This is essential for health plans to gain a competitive edge when the market finds its next “new normal.”

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether change comes through inexorable friction or flash floods. You can only control certain things. Perhaps the single most important thing you can control is when and how you react to that change. That’s what can give you a competitive edge.