Health Care

Health Care is a featured research topic and an initiative at Harvard Business School.
Over the past several decades, HBS has built a foundation in health care research, from Clayton Christensen's application of disruptive innovations and Regina Herzlinger's concept of consumer-driven health care to Michael Porter's use of competitive strategy principles. Today our research focuses on 
  • how management principles and best practices from other industries can be applied;
  • how the process of innovation can be improved;
  • how principles of strategy and consumer choice can be utilized;
  • how information technology can expand access, decrease costs, and improve quality;
  • how new approaches in developing nations can impact global health.
  1. Innovation in Health Care Education: A Call to Action

    Regina E. Herzlinger, Kevin Schulman, Vasant Kumar and Karen Staman

    Health care administration educators are at a crossroads: the health care sector is rife with inefficiencies, erratic quality, unequal access, and sky-high costs, complex problems which call for innovative solutions, and yet, according to our content analysis of top U.S. health administration schools and a recent article in the Lancet, our educational systems focus their curricula on isolated ,theoretical subjects, such as analytics and quantitative problem solving, rather than the team oriented, practical problem solving skills required for innovation . All too often, when graduates of these programs enter the workforce, they find themselves unequipped to meet the challenges for innovation of 21st century health care.

    Keywords: health care; health care education; Education; Health; Health Care and Treatment; Health Industry; Education Industry;

  2. CVS Health: Promoting Drug Adherence

    Leslie John, John Quelch and Robert Huckman

    The case describes a program that CVS Health recently implemented to improve medication adherence, an important problem from a societal, public policy, and firm perspective. A test of the program, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars to implement, increased the proportion of adherent customers by 1.4 percentage points. Students are asked to quantify the system-wide economic benefit of this improvement and draw upon insights from behavioral science to examine approaches for boosting medication adherence.

    Keywords: marketing strategy; medication adherence; Affordable Care Act (ACA); Marketing Strategy; Communication Strategy; Customer Value and Value Chain; Decisions; Health Care and Treatment; Goals and Objectives; Resource Allocation; Marketing Communications; Consumer Behavior; Measurement and Metrics; Service Delivery; Behavior; Motivation and Incentives; Social Issues; Information Technology; Value Creation; Health Industry; Pharmaceutical Industry; Insurance Industry; Public Relations Industry; Retail Industry; United States;


    John, Leslie, John Quelch, and Robert Huckman. "CVS Health: Promoting Drug Adherence." Harvard Business School Case 515-010, January 2015. View Details
  3. Improving Melanoma Screening: MELA Sciences

    Regina E. Herzlinger and Kevin Schulman

    MELA is a start-up medical device company looking to develop a novel technology to help physicians diagnose a deadly skin cancer, melanoma. The case reviews the FDA medical device development process, the development path pursued by MELA, and the regulatory and business trajectory of the firm. In the end, MELA raised $100 million for the development of this technology, and had $1 million in revenue after launch. The case offers opportunities to have discussions focused on device development, market assessment, regulatory strategy, and launch strategy.

    Keywords: healthcare industry; health care; Health; Health Care and Treatment; Health Testing and Trials; Health Industry; United States;


    Herzlinger, Regina E., and Kevin Schulman. "Improving Melanoma Screening: MELA Sciences." Harvard Business School Case 315-042, December 2014. View Details
  4. Using Time-Driven Activity-Based Costing to Identify Value-Improvement Opportunities in Healthcare

    Robert S. Kaplan, Mary L. Witkowski, Megan Abbott, Alexis Guzman, Laurence Higgins, John Meara, Erin Padden, Apurva Shah, Peter Waters, Marco Weidemeier, Samuel Wertheimer and Thomas W. Feeley

    As healthcare providers cope with pricing pressures and increased accountability for performance, they should be rededicating themselves to improving the value they deliver to their patients: better outcomes and lower costs. Time-driven activity-based costing offers the potential for clinicians to redesign their care processes toward that end. This costing approach, however, is new to healthcare and has not yet been systematically implemented and evaluated. This article describes early time-driven activity-based costing work at several leading healthcare organizations in the United States and Europe. It identifies the opportunities they found to improve value for patients and demonstrates how this costing method can serve as the foundation for new bundled payment reimbursement approaches.

    Keywords: Value Creation; Activity Based Costing and Management; Health Care and Treatment; Health Industry; United States; Europe;


    Kaplan, Robert S., Mary L. Witkowski, Megan Abbott, Alexis Guzman, Laurence Higgins, John Meara, Erin Padden, et al. "Using Time-Driven Activity-Based Costing to Identify Value-Improvement Opportunities in Healthcare." Journal of Healthcare Management 59, no. 6 (November–December 2014): 399–413. View Details
  5. Emodiversity and the Emotional Ecosystem

    Jordi Quoidbach, June Gruber, Moira Mikolajczak, Alexsandr Kogan, Ilios Kotsou and Michael I. Norton

    Bridging psychological research exploring emotional complexity and research in the natural sciences on the measurement of biodiversity, we introduce—and demonstrate the benefits of—emodiversity: the variety and relative abundance of the emotions that humans experience. Two cross-sectional studies across more than 37,000 respondents demonstrate that emodiversity is an independent predictor of mental and physical health—such as decreased depression and doctor's visits—over and above mean levels of positive and negative emotion. These results remained robust after controlling for gender, age, and the five main dimensions of personality. Emodiversity is a practically important and previously unidentified metric for assessing the health of the human emotional ecosystem.

    Keywords: Health; Diversity Characteristics; Emotions;


    Quoidbach, Jordi, June Gruber, Moira Mikolajczak, Alexsandr Kogan, Ilios Kotsou, and Michael I. Norton. "Emodiversity and the Emotional Ecosystem." Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 143, no. 6 (December 2014): 2057–2066. View Details
  6. The National Football League and Brain Injuries

    Richard G. Hamermesh and Matthew G. Preble

    The National Football League (NFL) was both the most popular spectator sport in the U.S. and a major economic entity, taking in roughly $10 billion a year in revenue. However through the early twenty-first century, an increased understanding of the long-term effects of head injuries on NFL players indicated a serious threat to the long-term viability of the game. Particularly concerning was the indication that some deceased professional football players had developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)—a neurodegenerative disease which had a strong influence on a person's mental and physical health—most likely as a result of repetitive hits sustained during their football careers and which may have contributed to their deaths.
    Over 4,000 retired players had jointly sued the NFL over the head injuries they had sustained during their time in the NFL and the resulting health problems they attributed to these injuries. In part, the lawsuit alleged that the NFL had not been forthcoming with players about the health risks of head injuries. The two sides had reached a tentative $765 million settlement in 2013, the bulk of which would go to compensating retired players suffering from such diseases as Alzheimer's or dementia.
    While this settlement compensated retired players, it was not applicable to current or future players. Could the NFL preserve the sport by making it safer through new rules or equipment changes, or was football an inherently physical game that no amount of new rules or equipment could make completely safe? Were current and future players, now knowing full well the potential long-term health implications of football, tacitly accepting the risks involved? As a team owner, is now the time to sell while franchise value and fan support are at their peaks, or will the business of the NFL be viable for years to come?

    Keywords: employee safety; Safety; Employees; Sports; Health; Sports Industry; United States;


    Hamermesh, Richard G., and Matthew G. Preble. "The National Football League and Brain Injuries." Harvard Business School Case 815-071, October 2014. View Details
  7. La Ribera Health Department

    Regina E. Herzlinger, Emer Moloney and Daniela Beyersdorfer

    La Ribera was a privately managed, publicly funded health department in the Valencia region of Spain. The model began in 1999, when a new hospital was opened to cover the secondary health care needs of the health department's inhabitants. In 2003, the model was extended to also cover primary care. The health department received a capitation fee for each registered inhabitant of the health department, and provided health services at a 25% lower cost than public hospitals in the region. However, profits for the private operators remained low, in the region of 1%. In order for La Ribera to remain a viable option the hospital began working with a consulting firm to look into future options for growth, and potentially higher returns. A key factor for any of the options considered was the public perception that tax-financed access to care was a longstanding public good in Spain, and allowing private operators to profit from health care delivery was a thorny issue.

    Keywords: Health Care and Treatment; Government Administration; Innovation Strategy; Vertical Integration; Business Model; Health Industry; Europe; Spain;


    Herzlinger, Regina E., Emer Moloney, and Daniela Beyersdorfer. "La Ribera Health Department." Harvard Business School Case 315-006, September 2014. (Revised December 2014.) View Details
  8. Fresno's Social Impact Bond for Asthma

    John A. Quelch and Margaret L. Rodriguez

    In 2014, Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) were quickly gaining popularity as an investment vehicle which joined together private investors and nonprofits to tackle social issues. Although numerous SIB projects and proposals had cropped up across the U.S. following the launch of the first SIB in the UK in 2010, none were explicitly focused on healthcare. Fresno, California announced the first healthcare SIB in 2013 to fund home-based programs to reduce asthma attacks. If successful, the Fresno SIB model would help solve the challenge of delivering preventative care efficiently in at-risk communities.

    Keywords: social enterprise; health care; marketing; bonds; financing; asthma; air pollution; air quality; chronic disease; public health; Health; Health Care and Treatment; Finance; Health Industry; Financial Services Industry; United States;


    Quelch, John A., and Margaret L. Rodriguez. "Fresno's Social Impact Bond for Asthma." Harvard Business School Case 515-028, September 2014. View Details
  9. Mayo Clinic: The 2020 Initiative

    Regina E. Herzlinger, Robert S. Huckman and Jenny Lesser

    Describes the challenges facing Dr. John Noseworthy, President and CEO, in implementing a long-term strategy for the growth of the Mayo Clinic—a leading academic medical center with a reputation for excellence in tertiary and quaternary health care. The case highlights the concurrent forces of regional and national competition and federal health care reform as factors complicating the plans of Mayo Clinic to grow through several channels. Students must ultimately decide whether Mayo Clinic should focus its future growth on its current areas of expertise (regional provision of integrated medical care and international provision of tertiary and quaternary care), new opportunities in a broader range of services and treatment channels (e.g., telemedicine, mobile health, enterprise learning and training for other health care systems), or some combination of these opportunities.

    Keywords: health; health care industry; health care policy; Health Care and Treatment; Health Industry; United States;


    Herzlinger, Regina E., Robert S. Huckman, and Jenny Lesser. "Mayo Clinic: The 2020 Initiative." Harvard Business School Case 615-027, September 2014. View Details
  10. Don't Take 'No' for an Answer: An Experiment with Actual Organ Donor Registrations

    Judd B. Kessler and Alvin E. Roth

    Over 10,000 people in the U.S. die each year while waiting for an organ. Attempts to increase organ transplantation have focused on changing the registration question from an opt-in frame to an active choice frame. We analyze this change in California and show it decreased registration rates. Similarly, a "field in the lab" experiment run on actual organ donor registration decisions finds no increase in registrations resulting from an active choice frame. In addition, individuals are more likely to support donating the organs of a deceased who did not opt-in than one who said "no" in an active choice frame.

    Keywords: Decision Choices and Conditions; Health Care and Treatment; Giving and Philanthropy; Health Industry;


    Kessler, Judd B., and Alvin E. Roth. "Don't Take 'No' for an Answer: An Experiment with Actual Organ Donor Registrations." NBER Working Paper Series, No. 20378, August 2014. View Details
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