The healthcare landscape is constantly changing. New technology, new knowledge, and new ways of thinking are helping us continually move forward and to effectively treat debilitating diseases.
As we continue to advance into yet another exciting age of medicine — one where biotechnology, stem cells and gene therapy promise to revolutionize the treatment of some of today’s most devastating diseases — it is useful to reflect upon some axioms learned about innovation in healthcare, in hopes of inspiring the next generation of medical thinkers and innovators.
1) Never let new ideas be overcome by lethargy and negativity
Cynical minds will always be wary of change. The risks involved with new, innovative treatments and procedures can cause a fair amount of anxiety (sometimes rightly so), but this should never compromise the exploration of new ideas.
In fact, expect that bureaucracy, joined by those who fancy only the status quo, will always receive new ideas dubiously.
In 1978, The Lenox Hill team was faced with a skeptical resistance in response to our attempt to open a blocked artery without the surgical opening of the chest.
Other colleagues were so anti-intervention, that they refused to look at impelling success data, instead calling for expensive randomized trials. In the end, we were able to push past these barriers and successfully perform the first coronary balloon angioplasty in the U.S. This perseverance eventually changed the way cardiology is practiced around the world.
2) Find what problem frustrates interventional progress the most
Innovation is largely a product of frustration with current tools. This is true in all walks of life, but especially so in healthcare, where a person’s life, or quality of life, is often in the balance.
When current methods are leading to poor results and high levels of risk, it becomes time to look for a new solution.
Ground-breaking healthcare innovations can come from anyone who has the passion and persistence to not only develop new solutions, but to see their ideas through the inevitable difficulties of raising money, battling intellectual property problems, dealing with regulatory agencies, and finally going through lengthy clinical trials.
3) Aim for very large changes, not just marginal or minimal improvement
In many industries, marginal change is simply not enough to make a big impact. Think about Uber and Amazon. They completely altered their industries not by making small improvements, but by completely revolutionizing the way that business is done. The same is true in healthcare.
Real change in healthcare comes with imagination and subsequent innovation: thinking in new and different ways; trying things that were previously deemed inconceivable.
4) Think “CLIP MT” when starting a new company:
Over the years working in biotechnology, we have seen the development of a certain formula: e.g., the acronym CLIP MT to guide the development of new biotechnologies. It can be summarized as follows:
C – Capital: You will need to raise an adequate amount of capital to sustain your business until revenue is possible.
L – Legal: Costly, but required, experienced corporate legal advisors.
IP – Intellectual property: You must patent your ideas to protect your new innovation.
M – Management: You need to find the right business personnel to take charge of your company, ensuring that they have the talent and drive to lead you to success.
T – Technology: As previously touched upon, totally new technology has the most potential for success.
5) When imagining the future of healthcare, consider genetic tools, stem cell therapy, and molecular biology
Healthcare is going to be revolutionized by fundamental advances in our understanding of stem cell behavior and biochemical genetics. This science will undoubtedly improve or even regenerate failing tissues and organs. Future therapy will probably also involve repair of central and peripheral nerve tissue, including the brain itself.
The evolution of stem cell research has been voluminous, yet it is only in its infancy.