A colleague has been asking me about the biggest challenge for integrated delivery systems now.

He was specifically asking about Kaiser and in the interest of full disclosure, they are not one of my clients.

Kaiser is a staff model HMO which gives the company a unique competitive advantage. Other integrated delivery networks are trying to replicate the model but without the structural efficiencies most won’t achieve the same economics.

The economics are a big part of the challenge for all integrated delivery networks including Kaiser. Healthcare in the US is simply too expensive.

I found my notebook from a design thinking course that I took at Stanford. One of the cases discussed was the high infant mortality rate in India. Most hospitals in India have incubators but they’re rarely used. Why? Most babies at least then where born in the community not hospitals. The incubators didn’t meet the need.

To some degree, integrated delivery networks seem like the incubators in India. They are state of the art but they’re not meeting the needs of the community. The US needs something more accessible and affordable.

That’s why I think IDNs are the now but not necessarily the future of healthcare.