[adrotate group="1"]

Sign up to our newsletter

Disruptor DNA: SmartHealth’s two strand Q&A > Dr Rachel McNamara, National Medical Innovation Fellow, Spark Innovation Programme, HSE

by | Jan 6, 2023

What is the biggest challenge to innovation?

The greatest challenge I have encountered in healthcare innovation is mindset. Our workforce have not been primed to self-identify as innovators, even though it is the nature and prerogative of healthcare workers to innovate constantly in their roles.

The cost of investing in innovation is often cited as a barrier, but what is rarely discussed is the cost of not innovating – both the financial cost and the wasting of non-utilised talents of creativity and resourcefulness.

To innovate, is to solve an important problem, through a novel means, to add value. At the Spark Programme, it is our job to empower and embolden healthcare workers to innovate, as well as to measure the value of trusting those who know their patients best to be the drivers of change.

What rule would you break to deliver healthcare value?

As humans, our activities of living have been transformed over the last few decades. The ways in which we now shop, bank, work and communicate, are unrecognisable from the formats of 50 years ago. Yet our health systems and processes remain largely preserved, with the unwieldy familiarity of old-fashioned hospital wards, lengthy outpatient clinics and static waiting lists.

The first rule I would break, would be to challenge the common modus operandi of ‘that’s the way it has always been done’. There is safety and comfort in this mantra but as a nation, it means that we are selling ourselves short on the health service that we are capable of delivering.

Innovation and improvement should be built into every job description. As our population grows older, and the number of dependants outstrips the working population, it is imperative that we harness modern techniques to meet that demand.

Some of the most effective projects I have seen lately, have been the application of known devices in novel ways, or the delivery of the same care in more efficient settings. Incremental innovations such as these have the potential to be every bit as impactful as more radical change, and should be given every opportunity to propagate.

Related Articles