Immersion in Innovation Should be Part of Every Health Care Professional’s Training
When it comes to fostering innovation, most academic medical centers, medical schools, and health systems use the “pull” approach: they open technology transfer offices, hire staff, create industry relationships, and then wait for physicians, investigators, trainees (students, residents, and fellows), and other health care providers to initiate contact, submit new inventions, or navigate the typically opaque path of medical innovation and discovery. That approach works for only the most self-directed, enterprising innovators, largely ignoring the majority of an institution’s health care professionals.
There’s a better way: pushing fundamental health innovation knowledge, skill sets, opportunities, and ground-level support to every health care professional who enters an institution’s doors.
That’s the route I and several colleagues have taken for Mass General Brigham, a large Boston-based health care organization, overseen by its innovation office. Though most of our efforts are less than 5 years old, we are already seeing results: portfolios of new companies, patented technologies, publications, and a subtle but notable shift from excellent clinicians and researchers to excellent clinician- and researcher-innovators.
Why bother? Health care innovation saves lives: New diagnostic methods, therapeutics, devices, and methods are an engine for keeping people healthy, treating their illnesses, improving their quality of life, and preventing them from dying prematurely. Medical schools and health care institutions must do everything in their power to sustain innovation, keep it running, and democratize the process.
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