5 Great Books to Understand the Healthcare Ecosystem as a Designer

April 4, 2022

Words by: Izac Ross

As a designer in healthcare it's critical to deeply understand the ecosystem and the leverage points one can use to make change and create an impact. Healthcare in the US is one if not the most complex service, regulator, and supplier ecosystems in the world. These books will help anyone new to healthcare better understand these ecosystems and the opportunities for innovation within them.

An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back Hardcover

By Elisabeth Rosenthal

Elizabeth Rosenthal wrote the best book I have read on the history, current state, and problems in US healthcare. This book is also a great intro to being a better consumer of healthcare in the US-- helping you to arm yourself for battle in the world of useless treatments, outrageous fees, and bewildering bills.

The Innovator's Prescription: A Disruptive Solution for Health Care 1st Edition

by Clayton M. M. Christensen (Author), Jerome H. Grossman (Author), Jason Hwang M.D.  (Author)

The innovator's prescription gives a framework for bringing some of the innovations from other industries into healthcare and identifies opportunities for new players and vertical integration. One note for this book it discuss Health Savings Accounts and price transparency as a solution to many problems this has been disproven. High deductible health plans have lead to poorer outcomes for health as a result of delayed care and price transparency has been shown to have low usage among consumers.

Which Country Has the World's Best Health Care?

Ezekiel J. Emanuel  (Author)

This book examines eleven of the world's healthcare systems to better understand how healthcare is paid for and delivered in the highest performing healthcare systems in the world. Using a unique comparative structure, the book allows healthcare professionals, patients, and policymakers alike to know which systems perform well, and why, and which face endemic problems. From Taiwan to Germany, Australia to Switzerland, the most inventive healthcare providers tackle a global set of challenges -- in pursuit of the best healthcare in the world.

This book really highlights the impact of incentives on systems.

Drugs, Money, and Secret Handshakes: The Unstoppable Growth of Prescription Drug Prices

Robin Feldman

While medication accounts for only 9% of spend in the US it is the fastest growing segment of healthcare spend. This book dives deep into these cost increase and the ecosystem of prescription medication costs and the relationship between pharmacies, PBMs, Suppliers, manufacturers, and regulators.

Drugs and drug targeting is the future of health this book explores the current ecosystem in the US and solutions for the space.

The U.S. Healthcare Ecosystem: Payers, Providers, Producers

Lawton Robert Burns

Are you an academic type that loves details and diagram? This is a great book to deeply understand how money flows through the US. Healthcare syststem and how it evolved

Lawton writes a book that serves as an expert navigator through the complicated and often confusing intersection of healthcare payers, healthcare providers, and producers of healthcare technologies all interact. This thorough resource provides expert insight and analysis of employer-based health insurance, pharmacy benefits, the major professions, healthcare consolidation, drug discovery and development, biotechnology, and much more.

Pro tip: buy the paperback, the diagrams are worth it.

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