The Innovation Machine

MARCH 18, 2015
Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA

Creating and sustaining biomedical and health care innovation is more challenging than ever. Almost on a daily basis, news of healthcare reform, shrinking budgets, and forecasted supply and demand imbalances fills the airwaves. While the underpinnings of our healthcare system seem to shift from day and day, those same tsunamis create enormous opportunities to providers and health care organizations willing to embrace innovation and manage it.

There are multiple reasons why organizations need to strategically manage innovation. Doing so creates new revenue streams, strengthens competitive advantage, is the weapon in the war for talent and improves business practices and patient care. In addition, as the number of employed physicians continues to grow, employers need a system to harness the ideas, inventions, and discoveries of their knowledgeable workers. Failure to do so will result in lost revenue opportunities and increased employee turnover.

However, most organizations struggle to successfully manage innovation since they experience common innovation challenges that include an unsystematic process to stimulate and evaluate new ideas, an inability to successfully integrate innovation into their legacy systems, and a failure to link innovations to their mission, vision and values. In addition, leadership is often unfamiliar with systems and processes of technology transfer and only recently has begun to understand the importance of capturing and protecting ideas and monetizing them.

Creating an innovation management system is a key step in filling the gap between new ideas and the value that can result. Innovation management systems are web-based processes designed to stimulate, harvest, protect, and sort new ideas that might have value either internally to the organization or externally to a potential market. Building a system involves 6 key steps:

• Data gathering

• Creating policies and procedures

• Building an innovation management system

• Creating awareness and marketing the system

• Rollout

• Benchmarking results

By designing, developing, and implementing a customized bioscience and health care innovation management system that quickly and effectively identifies and evaluates the internal value or commercial feasibility of new products, services, and business process improvements, health care providers can systematically foster, package, vet, and launch innovation. The results can be impressive and include creating innovation efforts that are strategically aligned, producing a portfolio of intellectual assets that can create nonclinical revenue, developing new care-delivery platforms and business models, improving processes of care that eliminate waste and improve outcomes, and improving an enterprise's competitive advantage.

According to a model developed at Central Michigan University, an organization's innovation competency includes creativity, enterprise, integration, forecasting, and the ability to manage change. If an organization has the stuff to innovate, innovation management systems are a critical control tool to harness the energy of bioinnovators and entrepreneurs and convert that potential energy to value.
 



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