How Does Medicine Innovate?

Speakers on innovation love to quote The Lean Startup.  The book lays out sort of a template for software companies to follow so they can innovate cheaply.  The costs to apply technological solutions to solve long standing problems has never been cheaper.

What’s really interesting is the everyone knows the cost of technology is dropping.  Moore’s Law is known better than a lot of actual laws.  But did you know the cost to do research on DNA was dropping at a faster rate than the cost of technology?

And the cost for DNA sequencing.

That should open your eyes to the potential of future discovery in medicine. It’s why a tax on medical devices written into the Obamacare law is stupid.  What if someday scientists could utilize DNA in medical devices?  What if 3D printed organs that were perfectly matched to your body were categorized as a “medical device”?

Traditionally, medical innovators worked on cadavers to create new procedures and to see if things worked.  That form of research is expensive.  One of the reasons medicine costs so much is the research on drugs and procedures takes a lot of time and money.  Another massive failure in the Affordable Health Care Act law is that instead of focusing on price, they focused on costs.  If you know the difference between accounting and economics, you will immediately understand why the law is guaranteed to fail.

However, there are rays of hope.

Later this month, there will be a new paradigm in medical research.  Debuting in Peoria, Illinois, it’s the Jump Simulation Center.  I have been down there to check it out.  It’s a pretty cool place and they thought out of the box when they designed it.   It’s exciting.

They have a virtual inpatient and outpatient clinical environment and a pre-hospital environment which has its own built-in house. All of these are wired for sound and video and are tied into a state-of-the-art behavioral research software platform.

At Jump, Dr. John Vozenilek is approaching medicine melding the Lean Start Up.  “In our quest for transformation of health care – prompted in no small part by our internal desire for care of the highest quality, and externally driven by change required by the Affordable Care Act – we will identify interesting opportunities. In the business world, these are known as pain points.

Solve a pain point through innovation and you may find that there is a market for that idea. That is how educational institutions traditionally create spin-off companies and new technologies and that is what is so audacious about the Jump innovation program. ”

Funny, I call opportunities pain points.  When I spoke with James Liautaud, he called them pain points too.

What will be interesting is to see how entrepreneurs attack medical innovation.  Not only can they use Lean Start up methods, but it will be interesting to see how collaborative they will try and become.  Traditionally, medical innovation was done in vertical silos.  No one shared information because there was money at stake.  There still is money at stake-but it will be great to see how new developments like social media and virtual technology play into speeding products to market.

There is a lot of opportunity in the medical space.  In the next ten to twenty years, medicine will look nothing like it does today.


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