“Innovation-Action=The Illusion of Progress.”

If a tree falls…

In a recent blog post I put out a plea and a challenge to the UK healthcare community to come together. Why? Because for all the talk of change, innovation and inspiration relatively little seems to have happened in recent years.

Sure there are ambitious, intelligent entrepreneurs, doctors and managers out there but none of us are reading from the same script. So really my point stands that the greatest ideas of our time may be all around us in our universities, in our science parks and labs, in our hospitals or even with our patients but if we’re not making a point of sharing and listening then how can it happen?

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader & a follower.”

I’m a sucker for a Steve Job’s quote but innovation and change have become such buzzwords that I think some of us have forgotten that they’re words that are meant to lead to action. In the UK, the ‘change’ and ‘innovation’ movements have started to march forward with a vast range of diagrams, logos and new jargon that I can only imagine’s been dreamt up by playing word association games. Look, talking about innovation and the future makes me feel good and it makes you feel good because the future signifies hope but we need a reality check here.

Innovation ain’t cheap. No one likes talking about money but money makes the world go round. Governments are cutting budgets, scientists rely on funding, startups needs investment and big business needs profits. Money makes us think twice and justify our actions but how can we do that if we’re not talking to each other? We need to accept that a profit incentive can be aligned with producing excellent patient care. We need to make sure patients are not being exploited through negligent marketing and the abuse of so called ‘evidence based medicine’ but we can do that through a community.

“The Single Biggest Problem in Communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

We need to face some harsh truths:

1. Innovation can’t happen without aligning incentives

2. We need to recognise that we all have complementary but different skills

3. Our individual objectives are different doctor vs inventor vs govt vs investor vs manager

4. We are greater than the sum of our parts

5. If we don’t listen and address each others’ ideas, concerns and expectations then we can’t move forward

“Everything started as Nothing.”

We need to work together to establish a common language to recognise the issues our patients are facing now and in the future but we also need to prioritise those that we can start dealing with them now. We need to have a formal platform where we can bring together government and big business together with our healthcare managers, doctors and patients. We need to encourage and open up opportunities for doctors and scientists to enter the worlds of management, investment and entrepreneurship.

When we make the environment for innovation more accessible, then and only then will we see the great ideas becoming even greater realities. Everything started as nothing but that’s the point it needs to start and it needs to start NOW. It’s already happening across the pond. Let’s make it happen here too.

Agree/Disagree? You can always tweet me @Saif_Abed

Dr Saif F Abed
Founding Partner
AbedGraham Healthcare Strategies

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