Butterfly effect. You’ve probably heard of the term. It refers to a mathematical theory applied to weather systems, where the slightest change of a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world could potentially influence a tornado developing in another. Sounds unbelievable, right?

It All Adds Up

But the theory definitely carries merit. Think about it. Wing flapping interferes with the airspace immediately surrounding the wings. When the vibe of that airspace changes, so does the airspace surrounding the first. And on and on and on, spreading across the globe. Pretty soon, you have a tornado — or a grand shift in healthcare.

Here’s a similar concept: five nines reliability. This refers to the availability and uptime for technology systems. At 99.999 percent, electricity flows into your house without blackouts or surges. Big data system hosting agreements sometimes include a “five nine” reliability service clause to specify a standard of reliability.

Now, apply the same type of math to understand impact over time. You find that the gaps of down time that emerge are larger than you might expect. However small, these gaps add up to alter its system.

30 days *24 hours *60 mins = 43200 minutes

6 months =259200 minutes (~ 3.4 minutes down)

2 years = 1036800 minutes (~ 11 minutes down)

5 years = 2592000 minutes (~ 26 minutes down)

The authors of Freakonomics (Levitt & Dubner 2005) and its many follow-on books apply similar analyses in their argument about societal norms: The smallest changes repeated over time build significant momentum and have massive impact on big entities.

Change Is in the Air

Whichever insect or bird has flapped its wings, we believe that a storm is gathering to impact healthcare in America, and possibly the rest of the world. The key is putting control in the hands of people and arming them with the information and tools to affect change. In this case, information and knowledge turns into confidence. Answered questions and confidence reduces anxiety. People and families become more aware of their health and manage it more effectively.

One confident person becomes 10. Ten confident people become 1000, and so on. Eventually, a trend develops. In viral-like manner, consumer adoption spreads and begins to scale. This is how networks build and disruption happens.

Envision this: 10 million people actively using one consumer-focused product to directly manage their health situations. What if even more people used it?

Large health networks and insurance companies would definitely take notice and finally shift their focus toward true customer service. Like dominoes in a line, that shift would occur with big insurance payers, health systems, outpatient clinics, and other healthcare players. In fact, our point of view is that they would gladly do so because it helps everyone involved.

The butterfly flapping its wings would influence a disruption of consumer network proportions. And people in mass would influence how their health is managed.

Peter Yewell

Author Peter Yewell

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