Healthcare Innovation

Innovation, although defined many ways, can be considered the exploitation of creative ideas for value-added outcomes. With rapid advances in technology and cultural transformation, explicit knowledge is becoming less valuable in healthcare. Therefore, it is imperative that future physicians learn how to affect the healthcare system not just through healthcare delivery, but also by translating their strengths and passions into products and processes that define the system.

In this elective, we will spend a small amount of time in the classroom discussing individual strengths and how to pair those attributes with a ‘gap’ or ‘need’ in the healthcare system. As a class, we will utilize various methods to develop a focused question, using an evidence-based, well crafted needs assessment. The class will then be broken into small groups. These small groups will design a product or process to address the focused question. This approach obviously allows for multiple solutions, as well as enlisting community resources. It is imperative that we choose a meaningful theme for projects, which will happen organically since the class is selecting the focused problem themselves. A majority of the elective time will be spent engaged in ‘hands on’, small group work.

Learning in most conventional medical education settings is a passive experience, especially during the pre-clinical years. This elective will foster creative skills and knowledge while solving a problem, creating a product or generating a new understanding of a process. This type of reasoning has not been cultivated in clinicians. Projects such as these help students find and pursue a passion, which over time develops into a niche and a deeper sense of purpose, ultimately helping prevent physician burn out.  Earlier in their medical education, students tend to be more malleable. Therefore, time is of the essence, and this course targets future innovators in healthcare at a time when they are ripe to receive this information.

The course is hands-on and requires students to conduct various types of research (direct interactions with potential “consumers,” i.e. interviews/surveys of patients and providers; literature search and market analysis of competitor products and processes; discussion with experts from other fields, e.g. engineering, information technology, product development, business). Students are also required to conduct studies with potential target users and stakeholders.  Extra time spent outside of the classroom is estimated at 40 hours/week.

A tentative outline:

Week 1:

  • Lecture/Class discussion on strengths and components of a well balanced team
  • Personality analysis, utilization of Myers Brigg, Birkman or similar personality assessment tool
  • How to perform an evidence-based needs assessment
  • Perform a needs assessment
  • Establishment of focused problem
  • Components of a powerful and convincing presentation
  • Explanation of healthcare markets and how to measure innovation outcomes
  • Design teams based on principles of building a well-balanced team

Week 2/3/4:

  • Small group design time
  • Engaging with community leaders for guidance in product design
  • Identifying funding potential and stake holders
  • Meet with clerkship director, for feedback and guidance
  • Presentation of final product  (week 4)
  • Feedback from clerkship director, classmates and professor from the business school (week 4)

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