HL20: David Green—Disruptive Innovator Touches Millions of Lives

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media , November 25, 2013

Device makers are paying attention. In India, Medtronic is working with consulting firm Innosight to market lower-cost pacemakers through the Healthy Heart for all initiative. "I'm sort of the architect behind that," Green says. "I helped them figure out how to take a Medtronic product with different branding, and how to create a different supply chain pathway to reach lower-income patients who were qualified to be below a certain income with an affordably priced pacemaker."

The lesson Medtronic and others are learning from Green: If you reach the lower economic strata in a meaningful way, it will increase the device maker's volume of higher-margin patients as well.

Unlike the world view of various nonprofit foundations and non-governmental organizations, Green believes in the free market's ability to innovate even among vast populations afflicted by poverty.

"Where I intervene is I address the pricing disparity," Green says "How do you make sight or hearing or life itself affordable and accessible to low-income people? Everything I do, it's using the tools of capitalism. I've learned just by trial and error that the tools of capitalism work to convert need into demand and to be market driving, whereas charity doesn't work."

Green draws upon a degree in health behavior, health education, and a master's degree in public health from the University of Michigan. He has no formal engineering or economics background. "I find people with extreme technical competence in whatever the arena is, and then I work with them," he says. "I assemble teams and craft business models."

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