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Innovation – more than the new buzz word in health care?

white jigsaw puzzle illustration

The new buzz word in health care is “innovation”. Which is a good thing! 

I have been in the ecosystem of innovation since 2016 with Neobiomics, affiliated to the Innovation Incubator at Karolinska Institutet (KI DRIVE). There we met other startup companies, and I think we shared several of the challenges of operating in the interface between innovation and “traditional” health care.

Here’s a few thoughts.

Innovation can only benefit patients through implementation

For innovations to reach out and bring value, implementation is key. No matter how brilliant an idea, it needs to be brought to life in an open-minded culture, where learning and change are core values. Health care can be conservative and resistive to change, and that may slow down, discourage or even hinder implementation.

Eminence-based medicine vs evidence-based medicine

I am a strong advocate of evidence-based medicine myself, but health care is still influenced a fair bit by “eminence-based medicine”. High-profile people may tell how they “feel” or “believe”. While feelings and beliefs are essential parts of the human nature, they are (IMHO) insufficient arguments in data-driven discussions. Innovations backed by evidence may not “feel right” if they also influence or change current practices. We need to trust data, or else there is little point of doing research in the first place.

(Too?) many stakeholders

Health care is a complex structure, with a lot of stakeholders. While patients are more empowered now than ever before, there are a lot of “layers” between an innovation and a patient. Implementation involves staff, informal leaders, heads of departments, pharmacies, management teams, professional bodies, policymakers etc. As a consequence, implementation takes time. It can take more time than patients should need to tolerate.

What to do?

  • To take words to action, health care needs to embrace a culture of learning and change, or else “innovation” will be no more than a buzz word
  • Research data is a valid starting point for change
  • Innovators travel with light luggage, and need a complementary decision-making process in health care, not to delay the benefits and value that innovation bring patients

That’s all for today, from the Department of Brilliant Ideas 🙂