Innovation in medical settings needs an environment that facilitates its development. Here's what to look for where you work.
If you had an idea for a medical device, would you know where to go at work to get help commercializing it? Most of the time, based on my experience at www.venturequestltd.com, an innovation management consulting company, the answer is no.
Given that there are a small number of hidden innovation gems on the medical staff or faculty, engaging them, getting them interested and moving them to action requires a carefully crafted and executed strategy. Whether you work in an academic or non-academic setting, here are some questions you should ask to assess your organization’s innovation IQ.
Is there structure, process and leadership in place to help me commercialize my idea?
Most major research universities have technology transfer managers and processes in place to help faculty move their commercial ideas forward. The initial steps typically involve determining whether the invention or discovery passes certain technical, legal, intellectual property ,and market hurdles. If that’s the case, then technology transfer managers work with faculty or staff to identify potential licensees, like drug or device companies, or, with business development or spinout managers, who work with inventors interested in creating a separate company.
In community hospitals and systems, even large ones with many hospitals, large R/D budgets and hundreds of staff, there is typically no innovation management system or a designated executive to lead it. At best, some of the pieces are outsourced or inventors are referred to members of the hospital network or community with some experience. Usually, though, you’re on your own.
When it comes to innovation, does my organization have a process to move the medical staff from awareness to intention to decision to action?
There are several ways to internally market to staff to make them aware of what innovation is and how to participate in the creative process. Newletters, websites, emails, educational events and other tools help to create awareness and inform the staff about intiatives and opportunities to contribute.
What has your organization done to remove the barriers to participation and create incentives to innovate?
We all can identify things that get in the way. Common ones are , “I don’t have enough time to do this given my clinical and administrative duties” or, “This is not why I became a doctor”. However, without a culture or ecosystem that enables those who are interested, ideas will usually fade into the woodwork or medical staff will leave.
Does your workplace celebrate success and cheer the champions?
Nothing succeeds like success… if people know about it. Awards dinners, articles and press releases and other devices are great ways to highlight the accomplishments of peers and get others excited.
Healthcare innovation, whether it is process, goods or services, is a combined bottom-up and top-down effort that requires an enabling, user friendly environment. If you think you are working in a place that is not designed for innovation, you can lead, follow or get out of the way. The choice is yours.