Nature’s Rules For Healthcare

I found this article – Nature’s 10 Simple Rules for Survival – on biomechanics and biomimicry interesting (Fast Company article).  It looks at how nature has survived all these years and translates that to lessons for business.  This is worth more pondering, but my Saturday morning thoughts on applying this to healthcare are in brackets.

  1. Diversify across generations.  [We need different strategies for different segments.  One size will not fit all.]
  2. Adapt to the changing environment — and specialize.  [We need a US centric healthcare model not a model from Canada or the UK.]
  3. Celebrate transparency. Every species knows which species will eat it and which will not.  [Be clear on incentives and roles.  Set up a win-win not a win-lose.  Don’t try to get government to run an efficient business which it never has.]
  4. Plan and execute systematically, not compartmentally. Every part of a plant contributes to its growth.  [A technology infrastructure and shared decision making across a care continuum is important.  The medical home concept has merit.]
  5. Form groups and protect the young. Most animals travel in flocks, gaggles, and prides. Packs offer strength and efficacy.  [Social networking and leveraging peer-to-peer education and support will improve health outcomes.]
  6. Integrate metrics. Nature brings the right information to the right place at the right time. When a tree needs water, the leaves curl; when there is rain, the curled leaves move more water to the root system.  [We need home monitoring and predictive metrics for preventative care.  Using genomics and other measures should save lives by allowing us to act early.]
  7. Improve with each cycle. Evolution is a strategy for long-term survival.  [Big bang improvement to the system won’t work.  Pick one problem at a time – e.g., un-insured – and solve for it.]
  8. Right-size regularly, rather than downsize occasionally. If an organism grows too big to support itself, it collapses; if it withers, it is eaten.  [Healthcare is inherently local.]
  9. Foster longevity, not immediate gratification. Nature does not buy on credit and uses resources only to the level that they can be renewed.  [We need to address the issue of hyperbolic discounting.  People want immediate value, but lots of healthcare improvements take time personally and systemically.]
  10. Waste nothing, recycle everything. Some of the greatest opportunities in the 21st century will be turning waste — including inefficiency and underutilization — into profit.  [Don’t overcomplicate the solution.  Sometimes the obvious can improve the difficult.]

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