The health care industry is ripe for disruption. But what aspects of health care need to change most urgently? We asked seven alumni from Harvard Business School (HBS) to weigh in. 

Making health care consumer-friendly. “We are seeing consumers benefit from plenty of innovations in transportation, food delivery, and communications. Health care could use more innovation to make the patient journey more convenient, more intuitive, and less expensive.”  — Richard Qian, MBA ’17

Customizing treatment. “We need to find more customized ways to treat patients with unique genetics, environments, and responses to treatments, instead of a one-regimen-treats-all solution to a certain disease. There always will be a standard of care, but now that data analytics and machine learning are more advanced, we can use data collected over time to look for patterns and predict which treatments could work better for subsets of patients. I see technology and real-time data playing a larger role in health care in the future.” — Katherine Cheng, MBA ’18

Aligning incentives between parties. “We need truly aligned incentives that take into account the time value of each party’s respective motivations. We have seen more energy and attention devoted to this, as value-based reimbursement models and partnership between the health system and payers continue to grow. However, I believe decisionmakers still risk being disconnected from the downstream implications of their decisions.” — Meghan Oliver, MBA ’12

Expanding access and improving outcomes. “I believe the biggest health care challenge of our time is expanding access while fostering medical innovation to provide patients with the best available treatments. From the perspective of pharmaceutical and biotech companies, this means not only carefully managing the rising costs of drug development to launch breakthrough personalized therapies, but also minimizing the financial impact of these new medicines in the health care system. Developing new business models to meet this need is a complex yet exciting endeavor.” — Antonio Henriques MBA ’17 

Achieving greater understanding of patient needs. “We need influential leaders who understand the voice of the customer and can systematically assess opportunities for improvement, while breaking away from structural silos. Leaders should seek to understand the customer experience through case studies, as well as share patient stories and leadership perspectives. This constant learning is key to better understanding customer needs!”¬— Diannette Figueroa, MBA ’13 

Redefining the scope of health care. “Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is pushing many innovative initiatives to test and encourage an expanded view of health care that would incorporate non-clinical areas, such as social services and community-based organizations. These socioeconomic considerations should be part of the central dialogue of health care needs.” — Aanchal Falken MBA ’15 

Leveraging international best practices. “Currently, Western medicine offers a very narrowly focused and narrow-minded delivery of fragmented care. Medical education must keep up with international treatments and systems of care. The US has disparate systems for the delivery of care, which proves very frustrating for the patient and consumer. — Margot Adam Langstaff, MBA ’91