Opinion

How to Partner with Outside Innovators in Health Care

By Melissa Schilling

We can unleash innovation by creating ways for people with fresh ideas to access those with the expertise needed to refine or execute them.

In my 20 years of researching and teaching innovation, one consistent theme stands out: breakthrough innovation often comes from outsiders. To accelerate innovation in healthcare technology we need to give creative people who don’t have traditional health science backgrounds more opportunities to participate.

Outsiders often look at problems in new ways. They aren’t trapped by the paradigms and assumptions that have long become calcified in industry veterans. They often question (or ignore) assumptions that specialists take for granted. And they don’t have the investments that the veterans do in tools, expertise, or supplier and customer relationships that make change difficult and unappealing.

Take, for example, Gavriel Iddan, a guided missile designer for the Israeli military who invented a revolutionary way to visualize the gastrointestinal system. Traditionally, doctors have used a camera on the end of a long, flexible rod – an endoscope – to see inside the gut. This method is uncomfortable, and cannot reach large portions of the small intestine. Most gastroenterologists have invested in significant training to use endoscopic tools, and many have also purchased endoscopic equipment for their clinics. Not surprisingly then, most innovation in this domain has focused on incremental improvements in the rod, cameras, and imaging software.

Read full article as published by Harvard Business Review
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Melissa Schilling is a Professor of Management and Organizations.