Pinpointing the source of America’s health care failure is relatively straightforward – of the $3.2 trillion we spend on health care costs, 86 percent goes toward treating chronic diseases. This paints a picture of a system that treats people at their acute stages of illness, and then allows them to lapse back into their patterns of ill-health. The result is one of the most costly and wasteful healthcare systems in the world.  Clay Christensen – highly sought-after speaker, revered educator and strategic business consultant – believes the answer lies within his Jobs to Be Done theory (Jobs Theory).

In his best-selling book “Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice (Harper Collins, 2016), Christensen, the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, and his co-authors illustrate the Jobs Theory, arguing that people do not buy products and services but rather “hire” them to complete jobs in their lives. Companies should thus focus on innovation – developing new products that get those jobs done better – rather than improving existing products. In his Institute’s recent report Health for Hire: Unleashing Patient Potential to Reduce Chronic Disease Costs, Christensen outlines how Jobs Theory can help health care providers cut costs and reduce chronic disease.

“[Jobs Theory] asserts that the way to unleash patients’ potential to better manage their health is not to try to get them to prioritize health goals over the jobs they’re already striving to do,” says the report. “Instead, it’s to understand those jobs, and help patients accomplish them in ways that enhance their health, rather than detract from it.” In other words, unhealthy activity toward a chosen end goal needs to be replaced by healthy activity toward the same goal, rather than trying to change patients’ existing “jobs.” Walking, for instance, can take the place of watching television as a means of completing the “job” of keeping oneself occupied. The job remains the same, but the method now helps, rather than hurts, the patient’s health.

To remedy America’s health care cost crisis, innovators must address the proliferation of chronic diseases strategically and with the goal of creating value for patients and society. To better understand how Jobs Theory can transform our health care system, download the report today.