THE REAL PROBLEM WITH HEALTHCARE INNOVATION
(AND THE SOLUTION!)
CONFUSING THE SOLUTION FOR THE PROBLEM!
This happens all too often in healthcare. It is not that we are necessarily “in-love” with the solution, but we are so wedded to it, that we continue to apply it even in the face of failure.
The story of the Embrace Infant Warmer is a great example of just that.
The Biggest Reason it’s Difficult to Innovate in Healthcare:
FEAR OF FAILURE
Medicine is inherently risk averse!
Of course, we want predictable and repeatable results! As a physician, I would love to know with certainty what treatment would work perfectly each time.
My medical school and residency training underscored the idea that failure is synonymous with patient death, or grievous injury or (scary still) litigation. I’m not sure it was even stated outright — it was somehow just in the ether, and we all absorbed the lesson.
If predictable success is the desired outcome, unpredictable failure is the opposite — and therefore the worst possible scenario. Actually, knowing that something reliably fails is a blessing — we know then never to try it. We can even seek to understand why, and build on those lessons.
In innovation, however, we are purposely trying something we haven’t tried before, which of course leads to unpredictable outcomes. Sometimes that outcome is a complete failure. Therefore, to find the new path, we must be willing to take risks, and embrace the possibility of failure.