What Do Digital Health and Jiu-Jitsu Have in Common?

The swelling healthcare revolution is not about you as a marketer—it’s about the collective. A few daring individuals are coming together and challenging the status quo—creating a culture of like-minded individuals. Typically very intellectually thirsty, these individuals have strong convictions and question current standards. We’re in the beginning stages of a sea change that could uproot and disrupt the current healthcare delivery model.

The missing part for me in all of machinations of these huge grinding gears and sausage making in the current healthcare system: The patient. The Internet and social media, which by now we are all familiar with, is creating a seismic change in how people interact, share information and connect with each other. Social media gives consumers a voice and they demand two-way dialogue. This change is happening everywhere.

And it’s real change driven by consumers who are empowered, who are talking and sharing information. It’s something no company, insurer or doctor can directly influence more than is absolutely necessary to either write the prescription or pay the bill.

Consumers Band Together

Common bonds and healthcare information are spreading quickly. These consumers are actively building entire networks and people are all banding together—across all conditions and disease states—to share, learn and support each other in their health. The Internet allows that connection—it is real, powerful, empowering for patients and provides more informative than any doctor can provide in a 10-minute visit. The leaders of this new revolution are you, me and your neighbor.

In 2008, it was clear that technology was impacting healthcare delivery, but the Affordable Care Act was still two years away. Fast-forward seven years and the digital health revolution is fully underway. To accelerate it further, large organizations must get into the game and help drive implementation.

That’s where Jiu-Jitsu comes in. It’s a martial art, combat sport and a self-defense system that focuses on grappling and ground fighting. It promotes the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend against a bigger, stronger assailant by using proper technique, leverage, and most notably, taking the fight to the ground. And that is precisely what is happening today. Small, agile companies are driving digital health. Large organizations are, for the most part, not in the game and their strengths are quickly becoming liabilities. The very things that become necessary once you become a large organization—such as process and guidelines—are also the very things holding large companies back. They are unable to move quickly.

Although the technology is ready, pharma and med device companies must become actively engaged to avoid getting taken to the ground. Pharma and med device companies must break out of their pack mentality, embrace experimentation (even if it’s not immediately profitable) and challenge interior barriers by building capabilities beyond traditional healthcare.

This year will likely be a tipping point—and we’ll see who can avoid getting taken to the ground.

  • Jim Lefevere

    Jim Lefevere is International Business Leader, Digital Partnering Solutions at Roche Diabetes Care. Jim is an award-winning commercial executive with over 20 years of expertise in the consumer-packaged goods, startups, medical device, and healthcare industries. He has expertise in leading marketing, customer experience, and new product development while expanding global markets through profitable growth.


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