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The Future of Healthcare Innovation

What’s coming down the pike? Everyone’s fascinated by the next new thing and developing trends. The reasons are obvious, and in healthcare, the stakes are always high. Impacts felt on Wall Street and Main Street include dollars, jobs, and lives saved.

The innovator must be a patient futurist, balancing enthusiasm and realism. A key requirement is accepting failure, while working toward a goal that’s often elusive. We’re building the future of medicine in a systematic, logical fashion.

The crystal ball and magic wand can illustrate the difference between what outsiders believe we do and how those in innovation see their jobs. The crystal ball is a simple lens into the future; the magic wand is a tool for channeling special talent and expertise. While having a real-time glimpse into impending genius is a privilege, innovation isn’t a passive exercise. We’re actively influencing the attributes and availability of next-generation technologies.

Sometimes I think the process is magic, because my colleagues seem to pull off great feats with intellectual and technical aplomb. In truth, it’s expertise, multiplied by elbow grease. What would be truly magical is to involve more stakeholders, especially the industry and investment community, at the early stages of innovation in our academic medical centers (AMCs) and research universities.

The Argument for Value-Based Innovation

In Chapter 5, I described the “Value of Medical Innovation.” The perspective there was to defend the notion that innovation, on the whole, made the delivery of medical care a more expensive proposition by adding costs for the development and deployment of new diagnostic and therapeutic modalities.

In this section, a small manipulation of the words to “Value-Based Innovation” seeks to represent the new movement in creative development that now takes into account the ultimate fiscal impact and appeal of innovations from the outset of the commercialization process.

Early on when innovating orthopaedic medical devices, colleagues and I joked that we’d advance a plate or prosthetic implant by “making it out of solid gold.” Flashier, complex, and more expensive seemed innovative. It’s easy to fall in love with your own ideas, especially if they reflect some level of sophistication that sets it (or presumably, the inventor) apart. That type of thinking is being squeezed out of innovation, and rightly so. The new paradigm is to deliver products and processes that increase access, improve outcomes, and demonstrate fiscal responsibility in healthcare delivery.

Cleveland Clinic is in the vanguard of Value-Based Care, moving from volume-driven, episodic, and expensive care delivery to managing populations efficiently and effectively. Simply, value can be defined by change in clinical outcome divided by cost of care. If medicine is moving to a value basis, so should innovation. As a pioneer in mission-driven innovation, Cleveland Clinic Innovations (CCI) is logically positioned to write the next chapter in ...

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