Healthcare has come a long way in the past few decades. However, there are still so many things that medical institutions can improve on, especially when it comes to innovation. One area where improvement is sorely needed is innovation.
In this article, we will discuss the value of innovation in healthcare and provide some examples of how it has improved patient care.
Innovation vs. Invention vs. Improvement
The idea of innovation is not new. As a concept borrowed from other industries and with a meaning akin to those used in business, technology, and marketing, this term has found its way into the healthcare industry.
However, people confuse innovation with so many terms, two of which are invention and improvement. To clarify:
- Innovation, in theory, refers to the act or process of introducing any existing idea, device, or method that’s new to the organization.
- Invention, on the other hand, focuses more on the creation of a product that’s never been seen before.
- While improvement, alludes to the process of taking an existing idea and improving it, which could be anything from making it faster, easier to use, more reliable, or more efficient.
Push or Pull Innovation
When it comes to innovation, there’s a lot of talk about whether organizations should “push” or “pull” it.
In other words, should they come up with new ideas and try to force them on those within the organization, or should they wait for employees to come up with good ideas and then support and develop them?
You can observe some pros and cons in both strategies.
- Pushing innovation can lead to creative solutions and new products or services. However, it can also be seen as imposing on employees, who may not have the time or resources to come up with good ideas on their own.
- Pulling innovation allows for more employee input and buy-in, but there’s always the risk that good ideas will be missed.
Pushing innovation generally refers to the top-down approach of coming up with new ideas and trying to impose them on those within the organization by implementing a range of techniques like brainstorming, goal-setting, or establishing a new department committed to innovation.
On the flip side, pull innovation is a bottom-up strategy that involves supporting employees in developing strong ideas through various methods such as making suggestion boxes, employee surveys, or assigning a team that can help in reviewing and creating potential innovations.
Innovation in the medical field
In the healthcare industry, there are many examples of both approaches. One example of a push strategy is the introduction of electronic health records (EHRs).
In an effort to standardize patient care and improve clinical decision-making, the U.S. government mandated the use of EHRs in all healthcare organizations. This was a top-down directive that required all providers to change the way they documented patient care.
An example of a pull strategy is the use of patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs). In this model, patients are actively involved in their own care, which has been shown to improve outcomes.
This is a bottom-up approach that depends on patients taking an active role in their health.
What is innovation in healthcare?
Healthcare innovations fall within the category of social innovations, which seek to address societal problems. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that health innovation raises healthcare’s productivity, efficiency, reliability, sustainability, security, and cost.
This term covers any breakthroughs, no matter how simple or advanced, that result in better medical courses of action and experiences for patients, including new and better:
- Healthcare procedures
- Distribution channels
Basically, the purpose of these innovations is to maximize the people’s capacity to meet public and individual healthcare demands, accomplished by optimizing the effectiveness of every healthcare system.
Hence, innovations in healthcare should provide extensible options and upgrades to the entire healthcare framework, which will eventually increase people’s overall access to medication, health assessments, awareness, prevention, and advocacy.
Why is healthcare innovation important?
Healthcare innovation is valuable as it can lead to better patient care, improved population health, and lower healthcare costs.
- Healthcare innovations can improve patient outcomes by providing new and better treatment options, making it easier for patients to access care, and improving care coordination.
- Innovation can also lead to improvements in population health by making it easier for people to live healthy lifestyles and by providing new tools to detect and prevent the early onset of diseases.
- Finally, healthcare innovation can help to lower healthcare costs by improving the efficiency of care delivery and by providing new and less expensive treatment options.
In essence, these innovations are important because they will require healthcare companies to come up with better tools to address health issues on a greater scale.
Bottlenecks in healthcare innovation
There are three major bottlenecks in healthcare innovation.
Lack of structure
One of the main bottlenecks to healthcare innovation is the lack of a coordinated effort to bring new ideas to market. In most industries, there is a well-defined process for taking new products from concept to market.
However, in healthcare, the process is often more sporadic.
With different stakeholders working independently on new ideas, a duplication of effort and a lack of coordination happens. And that can delay or prevent new products from reaching patients.
The bureaucratic structure is another impediment to healthcare innovation.
Getting the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval for the production and release of new medicines is a lengthy and complex process, making it hard for new products to get into the market in a timely manner.
In addition, the reimbursement system in the United States often does not provide adequate financial incentives for healthcare companies to invest in new products. This limitation tends to make it challenging for new products to gain traction, even if they are able to get FDA approval.
The last major bottleneck to healthcare innovation is a lack of funding.
Most healthcare startups are not able to attract the same level of venture capital as other industries. This situation is what complicates the procurement of the resources they need to bring new products to the market.
Finally, the high cost of developing new medical treatments is a major barrier to healthcare innovation. The development of new drugs and medical devices can cost billions of dollars.
This makes it difficult for small companies to bring new products to market.
Great examples of healthcare innovation
Despite these challenges, there are many examples of healthcare innovations that have had a positive impact on patients and the healthcare system.
1. Using drones to deliver medical supplies
One example of a healthcare innovation that is having a positive impact is the deployment of drones to carry medical resources.
Some organizations use drones to deliver medical supplies to remote areas and to disaster zones, where they can provide much-needed assistance to people in need.
An example of this is UPS. This American-based delivery services company utilized autonomous drones for the delivery of essential medical samples between two branches of a hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Although a quick runner could have covered the distance almost as quickly as the drones, the experiment was successful as a proof of concept. And in October, the FAA gave the business permission to expand to 20 hospitals around the United States over the following two years.
2. Using 3D models for surgeries
Another example of a healthcare innovation that is making a positive impact is the use of 3D models for surgeries. 3D printing technology is being used to create models of patients’ organs, which surgeons can use to plan and practice complex surgeries.
Intermountain Medical Center Urological Institute has developed a 3D-printed model of a human kidney that doctors can utilize to plan surgeries and explain to the patient the intricacies of the surgery and the procedures that they need to do to eradicate the tumor and preserve the kidney.
They created a 3D representation of a patient’s malignant kidney by converting its raw CT scans into a digital file as a blueprint, and their team reproduced this 3D model in two clear halves so that the medical experts can determine precisely how the tumor tethered to the kidney.
This innovation is important because it can help surgeons avoid mistakes during surgery and improve the outcome of complex procedures.
3. Using artificial intelligence robots for heart treatments
Some surgeons use AI robots to assist in performing minimally invasive cardiac surgeries.
Made by Intuitive Surgical, The robotic equipment called Da Vinci Surgical System allows surgeons to operate with greater precision and control.
It offers 3D high-definition pictures that are ten times more magnified than what the human eye can perceive, providing surgeons with a very clear perspective of the area they need to operate on.
Because of the system’s control and viewing console, vision cart for securing endoscopes for virtual confirmation, and manipulator arm unit with three to four arms, surgeons can use small, human-like instruments that have a much wider range of motion than their hands.
4. Using virtual reality for rehabilitation
Virtual reality (VR) is another healthcare innovation that’s changing the lives of both patients and medical professionals. Some rehabilitation centers use VR to help patients recovering from strokes or other neurological conditions retrain their brains and learn new skills.
For example, one company, called Limbix, has developed a VR platform that uses Google Cardboard headsets to provide people with immersive experiences that can help them overcome various mental health conditions.
This platform offers a wide range of virtual environments, including real-world locations and fantasy worlds, that can be used to expose people to their fears in a safe and controlled way.
As a result, this type of rehabilitation can help patients overcome their phobias and achieve an improved quality of life.
5. Using a wristband for detecting electrical impulses
Researchers have developed a new wearable device that can detect heightened skin responsiveness that indicates stress and aids in spotting potentially lethal seizures, epilepsy, and other psychiatric and neurological conditions.
The wristband, called Embrace, uses machine-learning algorithms to interpret data collected by sensors that measure electrical activity on the surface of the skin, particularly body motion, temperature, track pulse, and EDA.
Embrace works by vibrating when it senses a seizure, allowing the user to react and respond.
However, if the wearer loses consciousness, the app that’s connected to the wristband notifies a specified individual — a scenario that the company behind the product has taken note of as it occurs with the most hazardous seizures.
This wristband enables epilepsy researchers to collect real-time information from epileptic patients.
The gadget precisely monitors stress signals from the autonomic nervous system’s sympathetic response, which relates to the fight-or-flight reactions associated with stress and seizures.
As a result, the wristband is useful in researching various neurological diseases including anxiety, PTSD, autism, depression, and many more. That way, doctors can diagnose neurological conditions earlier and provide patients with more effective treatments.
Innovation software for healthcare innovation
Healthcare innovation software helps healthcare professionals develop and manage new projects, products, and services. It can also help to assess the feasibility of new ideas and track the progress of new initiatives.
A powerful innovation software like Accept Mission can also provide a variety of tools to help with the planning and execution of healthcare innovations, including templates, charts, and other necessary mechanisms in the following areas:
- Collecting ideas for important healthcare challenges
- Managing all ideas and suppliers of interesting products and services
- Presenting information for a reliable and comprehensive decision-making process
- Promoting collaboration and communication among team members
- Portfolio management of all health-related initiatives
- Tracking KPIs
Start developing the best ideas for healthcare innovation today. Book a demo with Accept Mission now and gain access to the platform’s tools, dashboards, and use cases to get started.