When I entered this field, innovation in medical technology was mainly about improving the features of systems and devices.
For example, I vividly remember the ‘CT slice war’, when Philips and other manufacturers competed on quality of CT scans by increasing the number of cross-sectional images (or ‘slices’) of a particular part of the body. From 16, to 32, then 64 and upward. The goal was straightforward: improve image resolution. The radiologist would benefit by being better able to identify abnormalities in a patient’s body.
The dynamics of healthcare innovation would soon get more complicated. In 2005, the North American Deficit Reduction Act sent a shock wave through the world of medical imaging. Many imaging procedures were hit by reimbursement cuts. In hindsight, this was a first sign of things to come: the economics of care would become much more important. Simply improving the resolution of a CT scan was not enough anymore.
Today, we see a shift to value-based care – which is about delivering on the quadruple aim of achieving better health outcomes, improved patient experience, improved staff experience, and lower cost of care.
Product features are still important, but only as part of a broader solution. Fifteen years ago, we would go into a radiology department to showcase the performance and features of our latest scanner. These days a head of radiology may ask: how can you help my department become more efficient to meet growing patient demand?
To answer questions such as this, innovation in healthcare needs to focus on integrated offerings of devices, software and services; moving from a product-centric to a solution-centric approach.
For example, improving the efficiency of a radiology department may involve an analysis of equipment utilization and time it takes to read an image, benchmarking with other hospitals – using data to inform everyday decisions to boost quality and productivity.
Measurable customer impact is now the yardstick for the success of an innovation. Or as our mantra has become: “It’s only a solution if it delivers on the customer’s KPIs.”