MedCity Influencers

5 summer reads for healthcare executives

Here are five books for healthcare executives and clinical leaders who are looking for advice, insight or inspiration in the remaining weeks of summer.

 As a practicing physician and executive of a digital health company, my daily reading list typically consists of medical literature and industry news. When I have some downtime, however, I tend to gravitate toward books that will help me grow as a healthcare leader and illuminate new ideas from influencers in our complex industry.

Below are five books for healthcare executives and clinical leaders who are looking for advice, insight or inspiration in the last few weeks of summer:

  1. The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen

I think it is extremely important for those at the helm of something as important as our nation’s healthcare system to consider where others have stumbled in the pursuit of innovation. The term itself – “disruptive innovation” – is used incorrectly so frequently in the context of healthcare. Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor, provides a provocative view into the successes and failures of leading companies and provides a set of rules for consideration to avoid losing their market leadership (or failing as a business altogether).

  1. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

While it may be cliché to highlight a Gawande book, a healthy rooting in what medicine (and physicians) can and cannot do is, in my view, important for healthcare executives to keep in mind. Through a series of anecdotes about his patients and his own family, Gawande writes about the limits of medicine – for better and worse – at the end of life. It’s easy to lose sight of why we do what we do, particularly when you’re evaluating changes on a system level. The humanity of this book keeps things in perspective and context. 

  1. This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay

Physician turned comedy writer Adam Kay chronicles his time training in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service in this emotional roller coaster of a book. The chapter’s detail Kay’s sometimes hilarious and sometimes heart wrenching clinical experiences and also explore some of the underlying political issues that impact the UK’s healthcare system. Kay’s book is a comedic, but also informative lens into the trials and tribulations of medical training.

  1. The Digital Health Revolution by Kevin Pereau (Author) and Barry Lenson (Editor)

A leading expert in the fields of digital and consumer health, Pereau writes about the innovations that are driving disruption in the digital health world. The book taps 30 experts – from physicians to researchers to top executives – for their perspectives on how digital health technology can improve health. The book, written specifically for the average consumer of digital health tools, also offers some great tips.

  1. The Social Transformation of American Medicine by Paul Starr

We can’t know where we’re going without an appreciation of where we came from. Starr writes eloquently about the rich history of our healthcare system and how the roles of doctors, hospitals, health plans and government programs have evolved. While others may disagree, conversations about the future of the U.S. healthcare system are futile if we don’t have an understanding of the myriad of the factors that shaped its current state. Anyone with a vested interest in how healthcare should be delivered and how we should pay for it will no doubt find this book fascinating.

What books have influenced your leadership? Your clinical teams? I’m looking for some new summer reads myself, so please share your favorite books – new and old – in the comments below.

Photo: Vintervarg, Getty Images


Amit Phull is VP of Strategy & Insights at Doximity. He heads up the Medical Content Team and works on behavioral analytics and strategic partnerships. He is an emergency medicine physician at the San Francisco VA and part-time Emergency Medicine faculty at Northwestern.

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