Saturday, May 26, 2007

Clinical Innovations - Hidden in Plain Sight: A Book Review

Innovative Insights in How to Respond
To Demands in Patients’ Everyday Lives

The other day I responded to an email from Michelle Morgan, publicist for the Harvard Business School Press. She was aware of and of my book Innovation-Driven Health Care and wanted to know if I would like to review Hidden in Plain Sight: How to Find and Execute Your Company’s Next Big Growth Strategy, 2007, by Erich Joachimsthaler, a business scholar who has spend 25 years advising companies on innovation.

Joachimsthaler is founder of Vivaldi Partners, an innovation straregy and marketing firm with headquaters in New York City, and offices in Munich, Dusseldorf, London, Zurich, Hamburg, and Buenos

I said, sure, I would be glad to since health care innovation is my beat. I've just completed the book, and I found its insights fascinating. Joachimsthaler’s basic thesis is that the most powerful innovations, the one’s that make you exclaim, “Now why didn’t I think of that?” rest on observing demands generated by how people behave what people do in their daily lives, not on extending any companies' current product line. Of this observation comes his theory of DIG (“Demand-first innovation and growth)/

DIG consists of:

• Creating the demand landscape – becoming an unbiased observer of what people do each day and how they live.

• Reframing the opportunity space – Making practical products relevant to the context of people’s lives and work.

• Formulating the strategic blueprint for action – challenging the organization’s fundamental beliefs and looking for radical and better solutions outside their usual way of thinking and beyond extending the usual product lines.

Joachimsthaler gives concrete examples. For instance, he talks of Starbucks. During a visit to Italy. Howard Schultz, Starbucks founder and CEO, during a visit to Italy, observed the cafĂ© was part of Italians’ everyday lives. Upon his return to America, Schultz imagined a business that could create a “third place” – not home and not work- that would be welcomed and become part of people’s everyday regular lives.

Joachimsthaler also explains how GE’s Medical System’s Division creates growth platforms for responding to clinicians demands in the fields of advanced medical imaging, patient monitoring, anesthesia delivery, critical care, and information systems.

Why should doctors read such a book? Well, for one thing, I think we have a lot to learn from innovative commercial companies and retailers – from,

-- creating new sites and new services for medical care for convenience sake to fit the demands of patients; everyday lives,

--to making the patient-doctor encounter more productive and more satisfying at the point-of-care,

--to creating integrated and bundled services with prices known in advance,

--to partnering with hospitals to build “big boxes” to provide one-stop-shopping ambulatory services,

--to constructing doctor-owned home pages from which patient can gather informed and reliable health information created by their own doctor.

To the astute health care observer, many of these innovations are obvious -- but hidden in plain sight for those who care to see.

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