Monday, April 29, 2013

The greatest opportunity to innovation in the healthcare industry?

Luis Lasalvia, MD, Global Dir., Strategy & Innovation, Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, is presenting "Medical Device Perspective: Get Ready for Unwrapping your Partnering Potential" at FEI Wellness next month. We recently caught up with him and asked him a few questions, which we are sharing below:

Luis Lasalvia, MD, Global Dir.,
Strategy & Innovation,
Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics

What have you seen as the biggest barrier to innovation in the healthcare industry?

I would distinguish the focus on improving patient outcomes as an appropriate frame for innovation in healthcare, since this helps highlight the actual impact of innovation in the experience of the final user: the patient. 

The previous traditional focus on innovative technological improvements is now just a subcomponent of evaluating whether and where these improvements create value and positively impact the quality and cost of healthcare delivery to the patient. 

Granted, this new approach can also impose bigger challenges and might require extended and expensive programs to demonstrate final results, with many of these results taking years to be realized, particularly in fields like prevention.

Through this, I see a transition to a new balance on cost versus rewards for the healthcare industry, with a major emphasis on identifying and pursuing initiatives with the highest chances of success in an area of unmeet medical need. In the end, each pursuit needs to improve patient care excellence in the context of the actual quality and costs experience.

I regard this as an opportunity for the healthcare industry to adapt to this new framework. It can be achieved on one hand by innovating toward greater efficiency gains and on the other by providing new value for efficacy improvements. Heavy adoption of this approach would likely result in a rewards-based healthcare environment, with rewards closely aligned to innovations’ overall impact on the healthcare system. 

To help overcome the challenges associated with this, I anticipate new models for approaching innovation to begin appearing. Examples include implementing faster ways to identify innovation failures and better utilization of collective brainpower, such as an increase in collaboration among various healthcare industry entities (e.g. manufacturers, providers, organizations, etc.).

What have you seen as the greatest opportunity to innovation in the healthcare industry?

For the healthcare industry, I see two goals with the greatest potential benefit from innovation: personalizing solutions to the patient and shifting care forward in the care continuum, into the realm of prevention and wellness. These also happen to be the focus of FEI Wellness 2013 event.

The specific playing fields where innovation engages in a key role include: personalized medicine, integrated healthcare delivery, patient-centered delivery (better transparency to patients related to costs and quality), chronic disease management where high morbidity is typical, and knowledge management assisted by IT.

I perceive the greatest opportunity to effectively innovate toward these goals stems from our willingness to clearly architect a best-practice healthcare environment, where costs are holistically managed within the healthcare system and patients are receiving the fastest, most effective care possible so they can to live longer AND with better quality of life. 

For our part toward this mission, Siemens Healthcare invests approximately 9% of global revenue in R&D, producing an average of five patents a day.

In my role, I’m leading company efforts to identify (or make visible) the benefits of faster, more effective diagnosis and personalized medicine with respect to many healthcare conditions (cardiovascular, fetal medicine, oncology, hepatology) by working collaboratively with clinicians and healthcare executives around the world.

If you could borrow one lesson from another industry, what would it be?

Learning and adapting lessons from other industries is a critical part of any successful endeavor, including one as grand as re-modeling and reshaping the approach to innovation in healthcare. I see many examples from other industries on how to make the healthcare system more efficient, friendly and transparent to the patient. 

The healthcare industry should look more closely at how organizations within the hospitality industry compete, particularly hotels. In these environments, hotels proudly promote their rankings based on customers’ feedback and experiences in the areas of costs, value, attentiveness, features, etc. The easily recognizable ‘star’ ranking system (e.g. ‘three-star’, ‘four-star’, ‘five-star’ hotel) has become synonymous with that industry and has enabled customers in search of a hotel to easily narrow down their criteria and expectations via these rankings. 
If the healthcare industry were to consider adopting a similar model, I could envision each individual healthcare provider being measured in two key areas by their patients / customers: outcomes and costs (depending on the healthcare system in place). These metrics could then be easily revealed to patients (whether by the healthcare provider itself or a third-party neutral organization) to further support their decision on where to go for care. 

Incorporating more tools that further empower patients would not only better spotlight and drive care towards those entities that provide it best (e.g. centers of excellence), but also, I believe, encourage more value delivery without added costs.

Even simple concepts in team sports like basketball, baseball, and soccer offer additional lessons for the healthcare industry. The ability of one individual player will only be of value if it can be aligned and leveraged by the role of the other players participating in the field of value creation.

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