Disruptive Innovations in the Dutch Healthcare Sector
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Through a comparative case study, this research aimed to identify the stimulating and thwarting factors for the adoption of disruptive innovations in the Dutch healthcare sector. Disruptive innovations are the opposite of sustaining innovations. They are applications of existing technology, but in a cheaper and simpler form, aiming for the lower demanding customers or complete new markets. Thereby, the products could suffice for a large share of the procedures in healthcare operations and thereby potentially increasing efficiency of the entire system. Disruptive innovations are however not adopted by the Dutch healthcare sector as often as one would hope. The main research question is therefore: How can the diffusion process of disruptive innovations be improved in the Dutch healthcare sector? By answering this question, insight in the empirical applicability of innovation theories in the healthcare sector could be obtained, but also the potential tools to make the healthcare sector more efficient and hence lower the social costs. Seven successful and six unsuccessful cases were selected in two different technology areas: medical technology and ICT. Due to the complexity of the Dutch healthcare system, besides Rogers’ adoption indicators for the diffusion of innovation, these cases were analysed by using context indicators as well. Comparison of adoption factors showed that the ‘evidence required by users’ and ‘positive experts’ opinions’ are of importance for successful diffusion. In the ICT technology field, also the ‘absorptive capacity of users’ can form an obstacle for the diffusion of an innovation. Nonetheless, most of the cases showed good performance on all other adoption indicators, proving the significance of the context in the innovation process. From the context analysis, the relevant actors and twenty specific factors that are of importance for adoption of innovations were identified. The key actors are the medical professionals and, to somewhat lesser extent, the patients both as users of the innovations, and second, the CVZ and healthcare insurers respectively approving and providing financial compensation for innovations. By considering the twenty factors against all the cases, the ‘knowledge of regulations’ and the ‘adherence to the rules of conduct’ seem to be of importance for the successful adoption of a disruptive innovation as well. Additionally, in the ICT technology field, an insufficient amount of (financial) resources, dependence on policy changes, technology push development, and dependence on subsidies or other financial support are all potentially thwarting for the diffusion of a disruptive innovation. All in all, the diffusion process of disruptive innovations can be improved when for one, producers of disruptive innovations meet the relevant adoption and context indicators, but besides that, an increased focus on the efficiency of an innovation instead of on quality or efficacy would lead to more approvals for disruptive innovations and less ‘decision power’ with the same group of people (medical professionals) would result in more differentiation of innovations.