Unlike media and tech, healthcare is a sector that seems to lag behind when it comes to innovation. Whether it’s on the technological or business side, healthcare hasn’t been an easy sector in which to innovate and improve.
Being an industry with so many fluid parts and participants, coordination becomes an uphill battle. Sanofi CEO, Christopher A. Viehbacher, says that the per-need basis of healthcare is what becomes an obstacle to things like drug and technology development. “Someone comes into a hospital, someone comes into a pharmacy, someone comes into a doctor. But beyond those touch-points, the patients are on their own. There’s no real continuity of care.” In other words, breaking down the communication barriers and silos is what can help drive the process and lead to more innovative thinking.
Since healthcare is the sum of its parts, there’s no point in taking a blanket approach. Innovation needs to serve the different segments within the sector.
There are three broad categories to innovation in healthcare: first, innovation in the way consumers access and use healthcare; next, innovation in the technologies used for product development and treatments; and finally, innovation in the business models created, so they can be sustained and integrated throughout the business.
Here are 4 innovation tips for the healthcare industry that can be incorporated into different networks, and lead to better patient care and communication.
1. Focus On The Consumer
When the focus is consumer-centric, innovation programs need to offer the patient greater convenience and effectiveness, as well as more economical solutions.
This could range from insurance policies which empower the customer to take greater control of their healthcare spending, or the creation of a user-friendly app or portal to access healthcare tools. When it comes to healthcare, consumers aren’t just looking for the best price; they need ease of use. Solutions that can help reduce wait times, make appointment setting easier, and manage multiple consultations can benefit users and healthcare professionals alike.
Technological innovation helps the healthcare sector internally and externally. New drugs, devices, surgical procedures and distribution can offer treatment that is quicker, more cost effective, and less disruptive. From the backend, tech tools can help collate data and use it to reduce human error. Sharing data between healthcare professionals and caregivers can help them monitor different diseases, as well as keep everyone on the same page.
3. The Right Business Model
Healthcare is a fragmented industry, and the silo approach can create problems. There is, of course, the question of private and public hospitals catering to the same needs, while having many different locations and competitors in the same region. For example, the biotechnology sector has dozens of small players in the same network catering to a very specific need, but those offices are spread out with no central location or communication system. Bringing treatment under one roof (vertical integration) can increase efficiency and save time and resources.
4. Test And Test Again
Healthcare is a sector that requires dozens of trials and tests before a new product or drug can be made publicly available. The same rule applies to innovation.
Innovation can’t take place in isolation; experimentation, trials and regular testing needs to happen. Test the functionality of the innovation on patients and the people who will use it. The best kind of innovation starts with a great idea that is refined and put into context to produce an even better result.
Have other great tips for healthcare innovators? Share them in the comments!