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Entries in Disruptive Innovation (2)


Physician Creativity & Disruptive Innovation In Medicine

Making way for your creativity.

Whoever said “a creative mind is rarely a tidy mind” was on to something. Who hasn’t had a great idea for a new product that they are sure would make them rich? Whether it’s a new medical device that fills a client need or a new service that will increase your revenues, how do we know what really makes an idea “great”? Why do certain bad ideas get to market and great ideas never make it to market?

Inventions that have taken a forward-thinking approach at their very beginning often appear backwards in their thinking given a few years (or decades) of retrospect. For example, what about the birth of individually packaged goods, which made food both convenient and transportable? Was anyone thinking about how all the materials they were using were creating more waste for landfills? The side effects of our creative ideas can’t always be anticipated. 

Innovation flourishes when there is a desire to make our world stronger, faster, cheaper, convenient and more beautiful. These are the desires that keep the most creative innovators inspired. But, some of the most innovative ideas and solutions we imagine can create other problems as a result.

The best way to reduce the risk of negative side effects is to follow a series of “filters and qualifiers” that will help separate the brilliant long-term solutions from the quick fixes and the genuine needs from the flash-in-the-pan fads.

Certainly medicine and health care has it's own set of filters, but there are basics that apply across all playing fields. Following are a blend of the best practices from the world of medicine, architecture and social entrepreneurialism. You can use these with confidence when fleshing out your ideas. Review them, use them and embrace themthey will save you both time and money. 

Step 1:  Take the time to understand your market

This step starts with the simple question “Is my product idea needed”?  If a product or service already exists in the market, then your products must truly be better, cheaper, or more convenient to be successful. And in some cases, it would need to be better and cheaper to catch the consumers’ attention.

When considering this question even further – in terms of production, quality and sustainability – you can easily determine if the product or service is deserving of the required resources.

Step 2:  Think beyond your lifetime

Some of the most socially responsible and successful companies look out 20 – 30 years before commercializing a product.  They may over-engineer a product, far beyond the initial scope, in order to open the way for future revisions or adjustments.  For example, an architect may design a project making use of reclaimed materials and energy-generating materials in anticipation of future advancements and needs. 

Step 3:  You are a resource too

When considering product success and sustainability, you need to think beyond the actual materials that will be required.  You need to ask yourself, “How committed am I to this idea?  Will I be as excited and passionate about this product in 5 years as I am today”?  Personal sustainability can no be underestimated because your idea’s success will need you year after year

Step 4:  Happiness counts

Some ideas may be difficult to measure in terms of social responsibility.  For example, how would the launch of another dermal filler be considered “good for the people”?  So instead, some projects – like amusement parks or comic books – should be measured in how much happiness will result from their use. 

If an idea doesn’t pass the social responsibility test, then run it through the “happiness quotient”.  Will your product or service bring more happiness and joy to the world?  If not, then scrap the idea.

Step 5:  The buck stops here

One of the hardest parts of evaluating an idea is assigning a dollar amount to our vision.  It has been proven that there is a direct correlation between a project’s profitability and it’s sustainability.   While some products make a boatload of money over 6 months and then disappear (think Pet Rock…), the ideas most of us have are those with real legs that will be profitable year after year.  Do the financials, understand your profit potential and evaluate your risks. 

Now go innovate!


Where Will Disruptive Health Care Innovation Come From?

Healthcare is a system that's primed for disruptive innovation.

Can We Build a "Faster Horse"?

Henry Ford is qouted as saying, "If I listened to the people, I would have built a faster horse". Ford's Model T was the disruptive innovation that changed transportation. Clayton Christensen's description of disruptive innovation is that a technology comes along that has the potential to change an industry, often because it's cheaper, more convenient, or more satisfying to the consumer. Early automobiles didn't disrupt the status quo because they weren't a better alternative to horses. But when Henry Ford's business model of mass production to produce an affordable vehicle for the average American worker, the internal combustion engine had found it's place in a disruptive innovation.  

Now think about health care. The status quo is expensive, and often inconvenient for consumers and patients.  The financial incentives of our payment system encourage physicians to produce more services to cover the costs of keeping their doors open, and generating their salaries. Both independent practices and hospital-owned physician groups generally follow the same formulas for financial success.

Most doctors I've talked with do not believe they can be "a faster horse". Most consumers/patients don't want to spend a half-day or more in the doctor's office - away from work, home, or family - for health problems that might not require it. Many patients find the current health care system paternalistic and difficult to navigate with satisfaction. Shortages of primary care physicians are widespread, yet the solutions being discussed call for training more PCPs. Shouldn't we be thinking like innovators, and looking at changes in health care through consumers' eyes?

Maybe our mobile devices (cell phones, Iphones, Blackberrys, IPads, etc) can be the technology that leads to a new business model of both primary and chronic care that allows consumers to have a cheaper, more convenient, and more satisfying experience in getting health information and health care services. If payment reform comes in the package of bundled or global payment for health outomes, I can imagine a system where face-to-face encounters with a physician will be needed only for acutely ill patients, or periodic visits for chronically ill patients. The physician may be leading or supervising a team of health care professionals who provide health and illness information through wireless devices, video screens, remote monitoring technology, and convenient locations (often open 24/7). 

Under a new payment system, the hospital will be the most expensive and often most dangerous place in the health care system. I don't know about you, but I'm like the typical consumer in economist Michael Grossman's Theory of the Demand for Health: I want "health and healthy days" on earth - not time spent in the doctor's office or hospital. I'll devote my time, money, and energy doing things that will keep me healthy, and away from the health care system.

When insurers are purchasing medical groups, and new players to health care like Cerberus Capital Management are acquiring hospitals in the Boston area, you can bet that the opportunity for disruptive innovation in health care is coming.

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