Friday, March 23, 2012

Lighting The Innovation Candle at Obamacare's 2nd Birthday Party

Better to light a candle, rather than curse the darkness.

Modern version of Chinese Proverb

March 23, 2012 - Well, here we are at Obamacare’s 2nd birthday party. I thought I would celebrate by lighting a candle for innovation. There’s plenty of darkness surrounding the event. I will not be a party pooper. I choose not to spread gloom but to shed light by lighting a birthday candle.

Besides, according to Washington Wire, a publication of the Wall Street Journal's Capital Bureau, there's only one person missing at the 2nd birthday celebration: Obama. See Laura Meckler, March 22 WSJ, "No Health Care Celebration for Obama." Obama says he would rather be outside campaigning rather than inside champagning. Anyway, Obama says doctors and nurses should do the celebrating not the President.

It's better to distinquish myself by lighting one of his birthday candles rather than trying to extinguish his reform plan.

Two events inspire this birthday blog.

1) A call from a 37 year old invasive cardiologist who wishes to remain independent and solo by creating a blog to educate patients on the benefits of health savings accounts.

2) The arrival of the March issue of the HBS Alumni Bulletin with a lead story on Angie Hicks, creator of Angie’s list. More than 20 years ago, I graduated from a 2 month course on health system management at Harvard BS. Two months was just long enough to make me dangerous.

What makes for successful innovation for physicians? Innovation is one way out of the health care tunnel. Unfortunately, many physicians see no light at the end of that tunnel.

Innovation starts with an idea, But to go from an idea to a successful innovation requires a great deal of support and collaboration.

Surround yourself with similarly minded people, who will give the courage to try, fail, redo, and try again.

Act locally, think globally. As the editor of the HBS Alumni Bulletin says, “The biggest advances are been seen at the local level, where innovation is winning the day.”

So appoint a chief innovation officer among the members of your office staff. Invite wild and crazy ideas.

Compile an e-mail list of your patients. Ask them for innovative ideas.

Network – talk to other physicians who have been there and done innovation, successfully and unsuccessfully.

Read books on innovation and entrepreneurship - Peter Drucker’s classic Innovation and Entrepreneurship (1985), Clayton Christensen’s equally classic The Innovator’s Dilemma (1997), Luis Peraras’ neo-classic Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Health Care Sector(2011) or my Innovation-Driven Health Care (2007).

Experiment – Get your toe in the water. Start a website, go forth with your idea, and see if someone salutes it.

Ask yourself five questions. Is my idea better than what it’s replacing? Is it compatible with the way people currently do things? Is it simple enough to use? Can I try it small doses? Can I find other people to use it – and watch other people try it out?

Never forget. Innovation is a process, requires a structure, and money to make it work. Be persistent. It’s hard work.

Sometimes you have to burn the candle at both ends. You have to light one candle before you light a thousand more candles.

Tweet: This blog seeks to light the candle of innovation on Obamacare’s 2nd birthday rather thancurse the darkness surrounding health reform.

No comments: