Nothing seems more popular these days then innovation. Organizations are being told that they must become innovative or they will perish. Individuals are admonished that they need to innovate themselves or they will have no place in today’s work environment. Innovation is more and more seen as the way to become rich.
Healthcare is hardly an exception to this bandwagon. Arizona State University has a College of Nursing and Healthcare Innovation, now offering an MHI (Master of Healthcare Innovation) degree. The program is described as for nurses, physicians, healthcare leaders, and “entrepreneurs and ‘intrapreneurs’ with a risk-taking mindset”. The inclusion of that last group surely illustrates the growing number of business-minded people who see medical technology as a growth industry.
In the same vein, a consulting firm offers help on “how to change business models and embrace disruption to attack new markers in healthcare”. In a Forbes article, its managing director explains how pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers need to find and target “foothold customers”. Two examples are cited: Indian reservations (“a prime target for early take-up of telemedicine solutions, where specialists can consult with patients via video link-ups and monitor their vital signs remotely”) and inner city hospitals (who “may happily offload elements of patient care to external entities eager to prove how they can improve both medical and economic outcomes”).
The Center for Healthcare Innovation (one of several institutions with that title) is a nonprofit that seeks to be “the world’s #1 source of rigorous, objective thought-leadership and solutions for the global life science ecosystem”. Its describes its April 22 “Diversity, Inclusion & Life Sciences Symposium” as “the world’s preeminent annual conference focused specifically on mutually beneficial collaborations between the life sciences industry and diverse communities”. The CHI Executive Director, in a blog post announcing this event, explains that “big pharma and other life science organizations need to understand how to maximize profit potential in emerging markets in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.”
Such reports could be multiplied indefinitely and the trends are very clear. To a large extent, innovation is connected to making money. True, the drive for innovation may be coming from nonprofits, educational institutions, and government as well as business, but all that could be viewed as a “health industry complex” like the “military industrial” one that Eisenhower warned us about.
In addition, the focus of these innovative efforts is predominantly on the technology. But, as been pointed out here and elsewhere, what about the “human side”? Innovative practices in the work culture of healthcare organizations and in communication and relations between doctors, nurses and patients are clearly needed, but how little we hear about such developments compared to, say, smartphone apps or online health services!
Finally, we need to recognize that while innovation provides benefits, it also creates problems.
–Jim Murphy has a solo consulting practice called Management 3000, focusing on organizational development and change management. Being semi-retired, Jim is willing to provide very reasonably priced consulting, coaching or project work for organizations aspiring to improvement in organizational culture, effectiveness and employee engagement. Formerly he led the Massachusetts Bay Organizational Development Learning Group, was Human Resources Director for the City of Boston Assessing Department, and served as a consultant with the Boston Management Consortium. His consulting practice includes management coaching as well as research and writing on employee relationships, leadership, healthcare and collaborative practices. Having produced newsletters for several organizations and being a frequent content writer for the”Confident Voices in Healthcare” blog, he is interested in writing and research opportunities, as well as consulting and coaching. www.manage2001.com firstname.lastname@example.org