Further Thoughts on the State of the Industry

The Health Professions Network recently released a State of the Industry Report—an inside look at what's happening in health care and health professional associations:

  • the variables that influence change
  • the trends that matter now
  • the opportunities groups can tackle
  • the challenges we're all facing
  • the common ground we can rally around

The report summarizes discussions at our Chicago Association Summit, which we mentioned in our previous posts about disruptive innovation in health care. The summit convened executives and representatives from professional organizations of non-physician health professionals to take a hard, collective look at the changing nature of health care, technology and of course, associations.

If you haven't had a chance, read our report here. »

On one level, I hope this blog affords readers an opportunity to provide their feedback on this report—what's missing? What do you see as the primary drivers of change in health care, for professionals, or for professional associations? What should associations be striving to achieve for their members?

Leave a comment, below! »

I did some further research after the summit, myself, to try and answer these questions and provide further considerations in reflection.

At the summit, after discussing the outlooks of individual groups, discussion quickly turned towards avenues for collaboration between groups to benefit all health professionals—both current and future.

For good reason—it is the Health Professions Network's mission to convene and forge such strategic partnerships between groups—all health stakeholders—as they are crucial to meeting current and future challenges and ultimately providing quality care at a reasonable cost.

But I've also become convinced that strategic partnerships and collaboration between groups may be equally important for the sustainability of professional associations in health care and the best possible support of allied health professionals.

Why? Because strategic partnerships have great potential to create disruptive innovations to the benefit of all health professionals. To answer the question above—what do I think is missing from our report? The potential for business model innovation within associations, themselves.

Our discussions certainly touched on business model innovation for health providers, and we also discussed the changing needs of health professionals, our members and potential members. But I think the topic is due further consideration and emphasis, specifically in how association or competitor business models may change and how associations should stay ahead of the rapidly changing curve.

Proactive innovation through strategic partnerships could help organizations be prepared for the unknown competitor of tomorrow, and further all of our goals. Here's an example:

Disruptive innovation through strategic partnerships.

A recent article in AssociationsNow briefly discussed different ways associations in general could benefit from a Netflix-type subscription service.

The background: Setapp is a new subscription service for niche mobile applications. Because the market for these apps is limited, developers traditionally sold these products at high prices. They didn't get much benefit from the standard app store model where lots of downloads translate into free advertising, because they didn't get lots of downloads. Providing their apps via Setapp generates far less revenue per download, but it allows these developers to get their niche solutions in front of a lot more people.

This example is particularly applicable to associations in health care which generally offer niche services to a niche audience—a specific profession or discipline.

We are constantly looking for new ways to introduce current and prospective health professionals to that niche and our organizations—could a Netflix-type subscription service for association products, like on-demand continuing education, help achieve that goal?

We know there's a lot of competition in the continuing education space—competitors outside of associations are offering low-cost subscription models for continuing education requirements, and they are meeting the value needs of some percentage of health professionals. Association-sponsored continuing education, on the other hand, is generally differentiated by its depth, breadth and/or quality.

What if associations forged a strategic partnership to combat the low-cost subscription models with their better education? That would allow associations to capture a higher percentage of the on-demand continuing education market. This kind of strategic partnership could also introduce health professionals to more disciplines—they'd be already paying for access to a wide range of continuing education and may be interested in what another discipline has to offer!

In addition, the benefits of being proactive rather than reactive when it comes to change should not be understated, as they can be critical to organizational sustainability.

I classify this hypothetical as a strategic partnership, because I believe it would take a lot of careful consideration and negotiation between groups to create. What should the price be? How should revenue be shared? Should groups agree to offer older content, rather than their latest & greatest offerings? Fortunately, there's plenty of common ground to rally around—isn't providing quality education to more professionals a large part of many associations' missions?

Of course, this is far from the only example of how associations could work together to innovate proactively. Nor is it necessarily the best idea or one that should be prioritized, now. What do you think? Do you have a big idea of how associations can benefit from strategic partnerships?

A forum to forge crucial relationships.

However, if we can agree on my premise—that strategic partnerships have great potential for how associations can better serve their members, fulfill their missions and protect those interests in the long-term—then we should also agree that that joining the Health Professions Network can tangibly benefit your organization.

HPN is the ideal forum to forge relationships between health professional associations. We recently discussed what makes the Health Professions Network unique with our members, and many said our meeting format was a strength—giving time for meaningful discussions and networking inside and out of structured meetings and sessions. HPN is unique, and uniquely cost-efficient.

Find out what relationships you can forge at HPN's Fall Meeting in Alexandria, September 6-8.

Before you register, consider joining HPN, today. We're still running our half-year, half-price promotion which will pay for itself if you join us in Alexandria. Plus, if you register for a full year, we'll extend your membership through 2018 so you can join us at the member's rate for three HPN meetings. Learn more »

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