History Repeating: What Hospitals Can Learn from Ancient Egypt's Longevity and Fall

Egyptian pyramids sitting in the desert dunes. Ancient Egypt mimics the same conditions that have allowed US hospitals to operate as regional monopolies for over a century.

The New Rules of Engagement: Competing in the Age of Mobile Healthcare

Part 2

Explore the fascinating parallels between Ancient Egypt's rise and fall and the evolution of hospitals in our new blog post. Learn how geographic monopolies have shaped both entities, and how the advent of mobile healthcare could disrupt the status quo, just as deep water navigation once toppled Egypt's dominion. Get ready to dive into history and the future of healthcare!

Cody Strate
History Repeating: What Hospitals Can Learn from Ancient Egypt's Longevity and Fall

Cody Strate


With 20+ years of experience, Cody Strate is a go-to expert for hospitals looking to improve their digital presence and patient experience.

July 6, 2023

Article Published


Greetings once again! Today, we embark on a fascinating journey through time and space as part of our ongoing series "The New Rules of Engagement: Competing in the Age of Mobile Healthcare". In our previous installment "An Introduction to Tomorrow Today" we set the tone for this blog series, and in this blog we will take you on a trip from the rustic corridors of rural American hospitals to the timeless sands of Ancient Egypt Our expedition seeks to unravel the similarities that underpin these vastly separated entities.

Much like Ancient Egypt, blessed with the lifeline of the Nile and fortified by surrounding deserts, many of today’s non-metropolitan hospitals have flourished as regional monopolies. Geography has been their great protector, allowing them to function in their distinct operational style, devoid of competition. However, as we will see, such isolation has its limitations and pitfalls.

Taking a leaf from the pages of history, we will see how Egypt, in spite of its unprecedented dominance, fell to the relentless march of innovation and external conquest. Parallels can be drawn with the future of our regional hospitals, poised on the brink of disruption brought about by technology-driven healthcare and a potential invasion of metropolitan institutions.

This post, like its predecessor, is an invitation to reflection, a call for adaptation, and a playbook for thriving in a rapidly transforming landscape. Are our hospitals prepared to adapt as Egypt should have, or are they at risk of succumbing to the sands of time?

Join us on this intriguing journey where history meets healthcare, where we delve deep into past lessons to help shape a successful future for our hospitals. We may be dealing with centuries-old history and the age-old healthcare sector, but rest assured, our focus is firmly set on the future.

Ancient Egypt: A Byproduct of Geographic Blessings and Security

Let's embark on our time machine and travel back a few millennia, to a time when the pyramids were still new, and Pharaohs ruled with divine authority. Welcome to Ancient Egypt, a civilization that sprung up around the life-giving Nile and flourished for millennia, etching its name indelibly into the annals of history.

Sitting comfortably within the arid expanse of North Africa, Egypt was gifted with a geographic advantage that set it apart from many contemporary civilizations. With the Nile as its heartline, providing consistent water and fertile soil, Egypt had the ingredients to nurture a powerful civilization. The river was the lifeblood of the nation, offering transportation, irrigation, and a bountiful food supply. It transformed a desert landscape into one of the world's earliest and most prosperous civilizations.

Moreover, Egypt was fortressed by Mother Nature herself. Harsh deserts flanked its populated areas, acting as a daunting deterrent to would-be invaders. To the North, the Mediterranean Sea formed a natural boundary, offering both sustenance and strategic advantage. This unique combination of fertility and natural defenses allowed Egypt to blossom in relative safety.

However, it wasn't just about surviving for the Egyptians, but thriving. The secure haven that their geography offered allowed for an incredible focus on cultural and technological innovation. And here lies a unique aspect of Egypt's golden era: with no pressing need to innovate for survival or defense, a significant part of their resources and energy was channeled into projects of grandeur and splendor. Their innovation fueled a celebration of ego and vanity, leading to iconic structures like the Pyramids and the Sphinx, monuments to themselves that have withstood the test of time.

Yet, as we'll soon discover, while these magnificent creations symbolized the zenith of a civilization, they were also harbingers of an inherent vulnerability. A vulnerability not unlike that faced by our regional hospitals today, as they navigate the shifting sands of healthcare. But more on that later.

Let's first dive deeper into how Egypt, with all its glory and might, eventually succumbed to the relentless wheel of time and innovation.

The End of Egyptian Supremacy: Innovation for Vanity or Conquest?

The dazzling light of Ancient Egypt's golden era, despite its magnificence, was not eternal. While their geographic advantages bred a civilization of grandeur, the very security they enjoyed made them vulnerable to a different form of innovation: not one driven by vanity, but by expansion and conquest.

Fast-forward to 332 BCE, a significant year in Egyptian history. The stage is set for one of the most remarkable conquests in history, led by none other than Alexander the Great, the relentless Macedonian king. Alexander's success was not just a product of his leadership and military prowess, but also a testament to the innovative spirit of his civilization, specifically in the field of maritime technology.

While Egypt was busy building pyramids, other civilizations were developing technologies that enabled deep-water navigation. They innovated out of necessity, to protect their territories, to conquer new ones, and ultimately to ensure their survival. Alexander's campaign, facilitated by these maritime advances, was swift and decisive. Egypt, despite its grand monuments and fertile Nile, fell to the Macedonian king and his superior military strategy.

A defining era in Egyptian history ended that year. The civilization that had remained largely untouched for millennia was now under foreign rule. From Macedonian, to Roman, to Ottoman, and then to British control, Egypt's fate seemed sealed for over two millennia. It wasn't until the mid-20th century, after World War II, that Egypt would regain its independence and control over its destiny.

This historical pivot underscores an essential lesson: while Egypt invested its resources in ego and vanity projects, other civilizations were focusing their innovative spirit on survival, protection, and expansion. A stark reminder that even the greatest and most secure entities can fall if they do not continuously innovate in meaningful and practical ways.

Could our modern healthcare facilities be unknowingly replicating this ancient misstep? As we explore this parallel, let's turn our attention to the regional monopolies that healthcare institutions have enjoyed and how, like Ancient Egypt, they might be on the precipice of significant disruption.

Hospitals as Modern-Day Egypt: The Rise of Regional Monopolies

As we shift our lens from the ancient banks of the Nile to our modern healthcare landscape, striking parallels begin to emerge. To fully appreciate these parallels, consider the geographic distribution of hospitals in the United States (Insert Map Here). The maps, courtesy of Definitive Healthcare, highlight a curious pattern: hospitals, particularly those outside of metropolitan areas, tend to function as regional monopolies.

Much like ancient Egypt, these healthcare institutions have found themselves as the singular providers in their respective regions. With distance and geographic constraints limiting the competition, these hospitals, especially those in rural and suburban areas, enjoy a level of security reminiscent of the isolation Egypt experienced due to its surrounding deserts and the Nile's fertile floodplains.

And much like Egypt, this monopoly, and the lack of competition that comes with it, has resulted in a particular inward focus. Without the necessity to compete for business, these healthcare institutions can operate with a sense of complacency. This situation is all too evident when it comes to customer service in hospitals.

Given the hospitals' monopoly status, the patient experience is often not a top priority. This circumstance, in many ways, mirrors ancient Egypt's diversion of its resources and innovation towards grand vanity projects at the cost of practical advancements. For hospitals, the primary concern isn't about offering a five-star service comparable to the Ritz Carlton, even though their price points are often not dissimilar. Like Egypt's grand monuments, this lack of competition has allowed certain aspects of hospital operation, like customer service, to fall by the wayside.

Yet, as we learned from ancient Egypt, a lack of competition can lead to stagnation, and a secure present does not necessarily guarantee an unchallenged future. As the healthcare landscape evolves, the question becomes: will these regional healthcare monopolies withstand the waves of change, or will they, like Egypt, fall to the innovative conquerors of the modern era?

The Impending Disruption: Will History Repeat Itself?

Today, we stand on the precipice of a seismic shift in healthcare delivery that echoes the innovative leaps of ancient civilizations: the advent of mobile healthcare. Much like the revolution sparked by deep water navigation in ancient times, mobile healthcare is poised to be the metaphorical ship that allows healthcare provision to cross previously insurmountable geographic barriers.

Indeed, this modern-day innovation has the potential to disrupt the longstanding regional monopolies held by smaller hospitals. Larger metropolitan hospitals, armed with cutting-edge technology and the capacity to provide mobile healthcare, can now extend their reach into territories previously only serviced by regional hospitals. What's more, they can do so without the need to build physical infrastructures.

In other words, the geographical constraints that once protected regional monopolies, much like Egypt's geographic security, are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Just as Alexander the Great disrupted Egypt's long-held supremacy with superior innovation, these well-resourced hospitals could potentially unseat the established healthcare institutions of smaller regions.

What does this mean for the future of healthcare? What might be the repercussions of this shift, and how can regional hospitals adapt to remain competitive? These are questions we will explore further in subsequent entries of this series.

To visually understand the impact of this impending disruption, take a look at the accompanying video explainer (Insert Video Explainer Here). It offers an in-depth perspective on how mobile healthcare could potentially reshape the healthcare landscape.


As we wrap up our journey through the millennia and bring our attention back to the modern world, the lessons from ancient Egypt ring clear: no kingdom, no matter how geographically secure, is immune to the forces of innovative disruption. Just as Egypt's geographic blessings and focus on vanity over expansion led to its eventual downfall, regional hospitals today may find themselves at a crossroads, challenged by the advent of mobile healthcare.

The resemblance between these two seemingly distinct entities - Ancient Egypt and our modern healthcare systems - is striking. Like Egypt, regional hospitals have enjoyed a prolonged period of security due to geographic monopolies. However, as history has shown, this sense of security can be deceptive.

The emergence of mobile healthcare could serve as the metaphorical "deep water navigation" of our times, empowering larger metropolitan hospitals to extend their reach beyond their traditional boundaries. Much like how Alexander the Great disrupted Egypt's status quo, this shift in the healthcare landscape could potentially unsettle the established order of regional healthcare monopolies.

In this second entry of our series "The New Rules of Engagement: Competing in the Age of Mobile Healthcare", we have dived into the intriguing parallels between ancient civilizations and modern healthcare. In our upcoming entries, we will delve deeper into the potential impacts of mobile healthcare, explore the strategies that regional hospitals can adopt to adapt and thrive, and discuss the implications of this new age of healthcare delivery.

Stay with us as we delve deeper into the evolving landscape of mobile healthcare in upcoming articles. We're charting uncharted waters, redefining rules of engagement in an exciting era of healthcare transformation. If you're seeking a guide to craft a harmonious patient engagement and digital front door strategy that seamlessly blends information technology and communication strategies, feel free to CONTACT US anytime.

Remember: history serves as our greatest teacher. Let's learn from the past to prevent repeating its pitfalls and propel healthcare into an era of unprecedented innovation and service.

Cody Strate


With 20+ years of experience, Cody Strate is a go-to expert for hospitals looking to improve their digital presence and patient experience.

Cody Strate

Design blog for creative stakeholders