15 books for people who want to understand the healthcare industry

August 15, 2017
Julia Zehel -

It’s no secret that Redox is a company of nerds—tech nerds, sports nerds, book nerds. You name it, and there’s probably someone at Redox who is happy to talk at length about any given topic.

While our interests vary, one thing most everyone at Redox agrees on is our collective interest in healthcare and EHR integration. We’re self-proclaimed healthcare nerds, and a lot of our nerdom is derived from extensive reading about the industry.

There’s never a shortage of folks on the team who are eager to share their favorite books, and over the years, some have become canonical at Redox. Instead of keeping all these fantastic books to ourselves, we wanted to round them up and share them with people who may want to broaden or deepen their knowledge about a complicated industry.

Some entries on this list are non-fiction, some are memoirs, and there’s even an article listed here, too. We’ve broken them down into several sections, so check out our favorites in “Staff Picks” and then continue on for more.

Staff Picks

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

Atul Gawande, both a surgeon and lauded author, argues that for all the benefits of modern medicine, it hasn’t done much to enrich or dignify the end of life. Dying is not an easy topic to tackle, but Gawande explores it with knowledge and grace, delivering a thoughtful examination of how medicine might make death better.

The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care by TR Reid

Ever wonder how other industrialized countries are able to make universal healthcare work? If so, then this incredibly well-crafted and well-researched book is for you.

Better by Atul Gawande

Through a collection of twelve essays, Gawande discusses the limitations of the human body, how achievement is measured in the medical field, and how medical professionals handle—or are limited by—the pressures and culture of the industry.

Where Does it Hurt? by Jonathan Bush (mostly)

One of the most widely-known and referenced healthcare books out there, Jonathan Bush’s take on what’s broken in healthcare is at once maddening and informative. By offering a real solution, though, Bush makes a compelling case for overhauling the healthcare industry with meaningfully disruptive technology.

Hacking Healthcare: A Guide to Standards, Workflows, and Meaningful Use by Fred Trotter

For a more technical look at the healthcare industry, this book takes readers through what EHRs are, what systems are in place at health systems, and what user workflows look like.

An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back by Elizabeth Rosenthal

American healthcare is a for-profit industry. This book delivers a thorough and eye-opening history lesson into how it came to be, what’s broken, and a possible solution to setting it on an economically more-viable path.

Innovator’s Prescription: A Disruptive Solution for Healthcare: by Clay Christensen

Another look at the economics and business side of healthcare, this book gives readers a comprehensive analysis of the ways in which healthcare could actually be made more affordable.

The Patient Will See You Now by Eric Topol

Eric Topol is a vocal advocate for value-based care and believes that many pain-points within healthcare will be alleviated through modern technology—namely, telemedicine and the digitization of medical data.

The Creative Destruction of Medicine by Eric Topol

A natural follow up to the previous book listed, this one posits that the democratization of data will not be easy and that the medical industry will likely resist adopting new medical technology. A true call to action, this book details what this process will look like, and how people can demand better care.

How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman

Doctors are only human, which mean they make mistakes; in medicine, these errors can sometimes have fatal consequences. Groopman explores how medical professionals communicate, how they make the judgments they do, and how people may better interact with doctors in order to receive higher-quality care.

Adventures of an IT Leader by Robert D. Austin

At once a story and a guidebook, Adventures of an IT Leader explores what it means to to be a leader while also being human—aka, while making mistakes and learning.

Connected for Health: Using Electronic Health Records to Transform Care Delivery by Louise L. Liang

This book provides an indepth look at how Kaiser Permanente implemented the largest EHR in the world and how using this technology—and technology in general—positively affected efficiency, safety, outcomes, and patient engagement.

Walk on Water: The Miracle of Saving Children’s Lives by Michael Ruhlman

Congenital heart defect surgery is regarded as one of the most-difficult surgeries to perform. This book examines the surgeons who regularly put themselves in high-stress situations to perform these surgeries—and how their performance affects their patients, their families, and ultimately themselves.

The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

Gawande makes the argument in this book that humans, by design, can only handle so much before stress and over-stimulation lead to errors and dysfunction in seemingly straightforward tasks. His solution is not a complex technology, but rather one that is as rudimentary as it is effectual: the checklist.

Struck By Orca: ICD-10 Illustrated by our co-founder, Niko Skievaski

And lastly, this little book is a whimsical take on 72 different ICD-10 codes. Whether you’re a health insurance biller or a just a fan of eclectic art, this collection is as entertaining as it is playful.

Books about overhauling the current healthcare system

It’s no secret that our current healthcare system leaves something to be desired. What that “something” is is different for many people and the subject of choice for many impassioned authors. If you want to explore perspectives and read about possible solutions, check out the following:

Healthcare Disrupted: Next Generation Business Models and Strategies by Jeff Elton

The Cleveland Clinic Way: Lessons in Excellence from One of the World’s Leading

America’s Bitter Pill by Steven Brill

Before Disrupting Healthcare by Pallav Sharda

Catastrophic Care by David Goldhill

Overtreated by Shannon Brownlee

Doctor’s Tell All—And It’s Bad by Meghan O’Rourke

Patients Come Second by Paul Spiegelman

Redefining Healthcare by Michael D. Porter

How We Do Harm by Otis Webb Brawley MD

The American Health Care Paradox: Why Spending More is Getting Us Less by Elizabeth H. Bradley

Mapping Innovation: A Playbook for Navigating a Disruptive Age by Greg Satell

Less Medicine, More Health by Gilbert Welch

Reinventing American Health Care by Ezekiel J. Emmanuel

Books about health-tech and health science

Healthcare science and healthcare technology are fascinating fields that will only continue to evolve as medical technology advances. Here are some books focused on healthcare technology and healthcare science:

The Future of Medicine: Technology AND the Human Touch by Bertalan Mesko

The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age by Robert Wachter

The Internet of Healthy Things by Joseph C. Kvedar MD

The Principles of Health Interoperability by Tim Benson

Rigor Mortis by Richard Harris

Machine Learning: The New AI by Ethem Alpaydin

Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future by Andrew McAfee

Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology by Johnjoe McFadden

Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves by George M. Church

Learning about health systems

Managing healthcare organizations can be tough—after all, those in charge have to provide clinicians with the tools they need to satisfy their patient populations by delivering top-notch care while also keeping investors happy by making sure their books stay in the black (sounds easy, right?). Here, some leading healthcare organizations share their knowledge about how to run a well-oiled system:

The Strategic Management of Healthcare Organizations by Peter M. Ginter

Health Care Organizations by Toby Cosgrove

The Health Care Handbook by Elisabeth Askin, MD, Nathan Moore, MD

Health Care Information Systems by Karen A. Wager

Prescription for Excellence by Joseph Michelli

Tales from medical professionals

Medical professionals have challenging careers. From years of intensive schooling to decades solving outlandish cases, theirs is a profession that will always demand thought, skill, and dedication. In these books, doctors share interesting—and often harrowing—stories about delivering healthcare:

Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician by Sandeep Juahar

The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly by Matt McCarthy

Hot Lights, Cold Steel by Michael J. Collins

When the Air Hits Your Brain by Frank T. Vertosick Jr.

Last Night in the OR by Bud Shaw

Confessions of a Surgeon by Paul A. Ruggieri

Trauma Room Two by Phillip Allen Green

One Doctor by Brendan Reilly MD

Miracles and Mayhem in the ER by Dr. Brent Rock Russell

Intern: A Doctor’s Initiation by Sandeep Juahar

What Doctors Feel by Danielle Ofri

Insights on specific healthcare topics

For a thoughtful take on specific healthcare topics, check out the following:

Complications by Atul Gawande

Do No Harm by Henry Marsh

The House of God by Samuel Shem

Mistreated by Robert Pearl

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

How We Die by Sherwin B. Nuland

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat by Oliver Sacks

The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons by Sam Kean

Narrative style books about healthcare

While these final books may not be specifically about healthcare in the same way the way the above books are, they’re still entertaining and worth picking up:

Next by Michael Crichton

Mountains Beyond Mountains: Healing the World by Tracy Kidder

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman

If we missed a great book, please shout it out in the comments! Or even if you have a recommendation that isn’t about healthcare, let us know, too—we’re always in search of a good read.

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