Harvard Business School

Health Care Innovation Courses


Bus5-1x Innovating in Health Care, MOOC

Problems with health care quality, access, and costs bedevil all countries. This course focuses on creating successful global business innovations in health care that can better meet consumer and societal needs. At its end, you should understand the how to evaluate opportunities and the elements of viable business models for different kinds of health care innovations.

Innovating in Health Care (IHC) enables participants to meet and interact with others who are also interested in improving health care. The course focuses on evaluating and crafting business models that attain alignment between an entrepreneurial health care venture and the six factors that critically shape new health care ventures – Financing, Structure, Public Policy, Consumers, Technology, and Accountability. Innovating in Health Care discusses the impact of these factors on business models for three different kinds of innovations: consumer-focused, technology-driven, and integrations which scale.


Identify the Health Care Venture

Do you want to be able to diagnose the financial health of a health care venture? Is it in robust health, just hanging in there, or in dire straits? The Identify the Health Care Venture case and video series will enable you to do just that, even if you do not know an Asset from a Liability, a Balance Sheet from an income statement. The first series consists of the case study and videos that Professor Herzlinger used in her edX series. The second series investigates the components of financial returns in greater depth and has a bonus primer on what Regi punningly calls “A Cruel Accounting”.


Innovating in Health Care-Intensive

HBS professor Regina Herzlinger and two prominent guest instructors are teaching an introduction to innovation in health care ventures for those interested in entrepreneurial opportunities in health care technology, management, consulting, or investing.


Innovating in Health Care: Field Study

1st Session - Professor Herzlinger discusses research strategies and the course overview

2nd Session - students present their research ideas and plans to their classmates

Last two sessions - students present their results to their classmates. Students are required to email their presentations to Professor Herzlinger and their fellow classmates four business days before their presentation.

In addition, student teams meet with Prof. Herzlinger on a weekly basis.

Students must complete a business plan.


Innovating in Health Care: Computer-Assisted Innovations

Additional field based experience in innovating new health care computer-assisted ventures on topics chosen by the students or from those made available by the faculty.

Professors Regina Herzlinger and Margo Seltzer will jointly supervise student independent projects in the following areas:

Medical devices

Medical informatics

Health IT


Social media

Students may also choose from the faculties' independent project opportunities or those of their own creation.

Students will be required to prepare a business plan for their project and/or a working prototype of a device or IT application. They must email their presentations to Professors Herzlinger and Seltzer and their fellow classmates four business days before their presentation.


Innovating in Biomedical Technology

From the artificial heart to the wonders of genomics, medical technology has been a key factor in the advance of modern medicine. This course requires completion of Innovating in Health Care (IHC), an intensive course offered in the early Fall.

Health care technology innovation requires a specific application of the Six Factors framework of the IHC course with a focus on global regulation of medical technology products and extensive and expensive development timelines (public policy, accountability factors ); unique market adoption (structure, consumers factors ); reimbursement (financing) challenges; and life cycle management (technology). Innovating in the life sciences thus requires an assessment of business, clinical, managerial, and regulatory risk; creation of a portfolio of simultaneous multiple strategies (development, acquisition, divestment); as well as a clear understanding of valuation milestones, to properly assess opportunities. The ethical implications of technology development are an important consideration as well addressed.


Building Life Science Businesses 

Health care represents a staggering 17% of US GDP and is also one of the major areas of new venture investing. In recent years, health care has represented between 25 to 30% percent of all venture capital funding. Of that amount, about half of the funding has been for biotechnology and medical device ventures with the other half for Health care IT and Services, the subject of the companion course, Entrepreneurship in Healthcare IT and Services (EHIS). In life sciences, because of the role of universities and other research institutions in producing new intellectual property and because of the financial and distribution power of the major publicly traded healthcare companies, new ventures often include licensing and joint venturing arrangements. The course thus has the following learning objectives:

To be able to assess the viability of proposed new biopharma and device ventures.

To become familiar with the major sources of intellectual property for life science ventures.

To learn the basic elements of licensing and joint venture agreements.

To understand the major institutional and strategic investors in creating new life science ventures and their goals and motivations.

To understand what the business development function is in both large and small life science companies.


Entrepreneurship in Health Care IT and Services

The course is organized into seven modules, with the underlying notion that before a healthcare venture can be evaluated, students need to understand the requirements of both financial and strategic investors. Topics include the rage of ventures in health care, securing intellectual property, managing the regulatory environment, financing the venture, managing business development, and growing the venture.

The course will be case-based. Most case protagonists will be attending when their case is taught.


Commercializing Science

This course has evolved over five years to be unique among HBS electives as students are selected from Harvard's schools of business, medicine, science, engineering, law, public health, government, and teaching hospitals. The focus is on inventing breakthroughs, working with other professions such as science, medicine, and law, and moving research from the lab to the market place. A centerpiece of the course is a multi-disciplinary team project to create the plan for commercializing research from a university or private sector lab. Final presentations of the projects will be attended by Harvard faculty, alums and local venture capitalists.

Commercializing Science has three objectives. First, it gives you the managerial insights to increase the chances that your organization will invent a breakthrough. Second, it gives you an understanding of today's increasingly complex innovative landscape. In the past, firms invented, developed, manufactured, and marketed their products internally. Today, firms are working - and competing - with universities, other firms, and open innovation communities. We will discuss the strategic, operational, and ethical issues that arise on such a landscape. Third, the project will give you hands-on experience - as a member of a multi-disciplinary team - in the development of science-based technologies such as genomics, nanotechnology, information technology, and photonics. While most of the projects originate from Harvard laboratories, students may pursue their own project ideas, as long as the topic fits within the scope of the course.


Managing Global Health: Applying Behavioral Economics to Create Impact

Managing Global Health trains students to see through the lens of the end-user and to use the levers of behavior change to generate impact in health and social programs. Although most of the applications are in global health, it is appropriate for students who anticipate working in health, education, or international development sectors, as well as those with a general interest in learning how behavioral economics can be effectively applied.


Executive Program


Business Innovations For Global Health

Business Innovations in Global Health Care is a new program that enables entrepreneurs and health care leaders to examine these ventures and apply them in their own countries and around the world. You will examine effective models of successful health care organizations in developing and developed countries, including those that created breakthroughs in telemedicine, drug testing, integrated clinics and pharmacies, and patient communities.


Emerging Issues in Health Care

Examines innovative technologies and business models that have the potential to deliver greater value across the health care supply chain. Together with world-renowned faculty and an accomplished group of peers, you will explore the timely issues affecting the health care industry.


Managing Health Care Delivery

Addresses the complex challenge faced by health care leaders: being accountable for both medical and financial outcomes. With the focus on dramatically enhancing patient care, this intensive program helps you design, manage, and improve your organization. You will return to your company with the tools and strategies required to successfully drive change.


Value Measurement in Health Care

Brings together senior clinical and financial leaders from health care organizations around the world to examine new approaches to outcome and cost measurement. This program focuses on the role of value measurement as part of a strategic agenda to transform quality and cost in health care. You will explore the strategic and organizational challenges in implementing a value measurement system.