Healthcare innovation doesn’t need to be hard: Top tips for innovating in the healthcare ecosystem

Founder and CEO of Celo, Steve Vlok explores some of the challenges that innovators in healthcare face and how to overcome them.



1.: a new idea, method, or device: novelty.

2.: the introduction of something new.


A change is coming!

Across the healthcare sector, it's common to hear of new roles such as Head of Innovation or Chief Innovation Officer making their way through the corporate ranks, even extending as far as the public sector. This can seem exciting, especially to the innovators amongst us, as we look to offer our innovative ‘goods and services’ to these new decision-makers often bedded deep within relatively complex and hierarchical organizations. 

When the rubber meets the road, and we get in front of these new positions, we’re met with a mix of an old dog in new shoes versus somebody that really wants to make a positive change using innovation. For example, it's not uncommon to see a Chief Information Officer take up the new title and go from looking after wi-fi, software upgrades and alike to being tasked with innovating their organization with new digital tools, which makes a lot of sense if they’re already the “go-to” IT person. Or does it?

Presentations, proposals, and procurement…

So what happens when you offer an innovative solution to a complex problem in a complex healthcare organization. It goes without saying that it needs to solve a problem rather than being some fancy tech that would be cool to use, and it certainly helps to have some case studies or proof that it works elsewhere. This will be enough to convince any buyer, decision-maker, or innovator that it's time to put pen to paper and ink this deal (opportunity?!). 

However, more often than not, the innovator is met with blockers or obstacles which block the road to innovation. Here are some examples of the types of blockers often faced.

  1. Budget - we don’t have the budget for this project right now, or we’ll need to go to tender.
  2. Lack of clinical buy-in.
  3. We don’t have the internal resources to implement this solution.

How do we overcome blockers to innovate quickly?

To be successful, modern-day innovation in a healthcare setting needs to be affordable, clinician-led, and low effort.

  1. Innovation in a healthcare setting should be affordable. It should have a measurable return on investment (ROI) that can be visualized on day one of implementation. This can be in several form factors including time saved, money saved, increased earnings, greater staff/patient satisfaction ratings, etc. If choosing a digital solution, ask the provider to demonstrate the ROI early on.
  2. Innovative changes in a clinical setting must be clinician-led! As we know clinicians are busy as it is. They don’t have time to think about changing the way they work or be told to do things differently. Without clinical buy-in from day 1 you risk your innovation never being taken up by the end-user. Involve clinicians early on to solve real problems and include them in the decision-making.
  3. Your chosen innovation needs to be easy to roll-out. The solution, innovation or service you plan on implementing needs to be easy to use, little to no training required and no overheads. You heard it, no 6-12 month projects needed here. We’re innovating. Choose something that is proven, quick and scalable right out the gate.

Hit the ground running!

There is no better way to innovate than to try things. Off the shelf digital solutions are often affordable due to economies of scale, often free to pilot - and there has never been a better time to prove the value of a solution before committing to a long-term solution or contract. Find a partner that knows their vertical, and are leaders in what they do. As the saying goes, jack of all trades, master of none. Pick your partners wisely. 

If you want to learn more about how to innovate in your organization, we’d love to chat with you and learn about your pain points and how we might be able to help.

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