The Business of Healthcare Innovation (2020)



The Business of Healthcare Innovation, edited by Lawton Robert Burns, is already a classic. The first edition was published in 2005, the second in 2012 and this one now, completely renewed, is from 2020.


The book analyzes in detail with a global perspective the development of four important health industries:

  • The pharmaceutical sector
  • The biotech sector
  • The medical technology sector (medical devices)
  • The information technology sector


With great success it groups these industries under the characteristic that unites them: innovation. Not only that, he places them in the health sector value chain and describes how innovation usually comes from these industries and is transmitted to the other components of the health sector value chain, basically providers and insurers. While money travels the reverse direction, from insurers and providers to these industries, according to the following scheme:


The book begins with an introductory Chapter 1, which places these four industries under the common denominator of innovation.

Chapter 2 provides an update on large pharmaceutical companies, that of small molecules, in contrast to large molecules in the biotech sector. It examines the different components of its value chain: DISCOVER, DEVELOP, MANUFACTURE, SELL and analyzes how efficient these firms are in each of the components of their value chain.

Chapter 3 analyzes the therapeutic side of the biotechnology sector. Only a few of these companies work and are the size of Big pharma. However, the smaller start-ups are today the main source of R&D productivity in the health sector.

Chapter 4 explores biotech startups, funded by venture capital. This chapter explores in detail the steps in venture capital financing. It takes a closer look at the life sciences ecosystem in the Cambridge (MA) area and its main ingredients for success.

Chapter 5 is dedicated to the medical technologies sector. As in the pharma-biotech sector, this industry has been growing very quickly and with high margins. Many of the success factors are explored, such as access to financial and intellectual capital and innovative new products.

Chapter 6 deals with start-ups in the medical technology sector, also financed by venture capital.

Finally, Chapter 7 introduces us to the health information technology sector. Like the other sectors, this one has enormous potential to transform the way services are delivered and their efficiency.

This edition concentrates more than previous ones on the aspects of start-ups in biotechnology and medical technologies. It is for this reason that some chapters of previous editions have been omitted, which means that they have not become out of date.

Both this edition and the previous ones are highly recommended reading, if you want to understand minimally how innovation is incorporated in the health sector.