Brad McCarty • August 30, 2018

I started this week at home in Nashville, attending the Health:Further conference. This year, it seemed to me, that there was an overarching theme that I will call “the rules of healthcare innovation.” AngelMD President Dan Parsley and SVP Mark Mescher were both speaking, so it gave me a good opportunity to attend some talks, panels, and one-on-one meetings. These are the topics that I heard, time and time again.

Innovate Where You Are

While talking to investors, one thing almost all of them said was that they wanted to see innovation led by founders within their own areas of expertise. It’s a sentiment that was echoed by AngelMD Lead Investor Dr. Suzanne Manzi in her interview last month.

“I’ve seen promising companies, but sometimes they’re run by people who don’t have experience in the market that they’re trying to enter. They can have a great product, but the odds are stacked against them if they lack the background.”

It’s easy to look around and see frustrations within the healthcare world. For the entrepreneur, these frustrations look like targets for innovation. But the sad fact is that, often times, the innovation target is far removed from the entrepreneur’s area of expertise. This leads to inexperienced, poor decisions, and oftentimes to unnecessary failure.

The Wisdom of the Crowd

With the first point in mind, clinician-entrepreneurs must also be careful to not be overly sure of their own expertise. There will be times when something bothers you personally, and you think that there’s a better way of doing things. But that doesn’t mean that anyone else is having the same problem.

The quick way around this pitfall is to survey the wisdom of the crowd. Talk to other providers in your specialty. See if they’re having the same frustrations that you are. Ask them what they’ve tried in order to get around those frustrations.

At AngelMD, part of our secret is in the power of the network. We make it easy to connect to other healthcare providers in your field, so take advantage of that opportunity. This is especially important for those who work in smaller geographic areas, or less-populated specialties. Use your AngelMD profile to connect to others, ask them for their feedback, and put the crowd to work for you.

Organizational Opportunities

I shouldn’t have been surprised to hear Marcus Osborne from Walmart talking about wellness innovation, but I was. My jaw shouldn’t have dropped when I heard HCA’s stats surrounding innovation, but it did. Over and over again, I heard stories about large organizations placing bets on innovation. Companies are putting big money into innovation — especially the kind that solves their own problems.

We often hear stories about the person who slogs through their 9 to 5 job, then heads home to pursue a passion. These days, those stories are changing. Companies that you might not expect (look back at the first paragraph, and notice that I said Walmart) are tapping current employees and hiring new ones, in order to drive innovative solutions within healthcare.

This shift in culture is opening new doors. In some cases, it’s placing doors where they never existed before. Instead of looking to outside vendors, many companies are willing to put down table stakes in order to be a player. So before you go looking around, or spending late nights on your own, investigate the opportunities that already exist inside your organization.

There Are No Rules

It might seem strange to end a post about rules by saying that there are no rules, but hear me out for a final point. The fact of the matter is that the world of healthcare has changed. Innovation is coming from every direction, and the only thing set in stone are the regulations that govern all of us.

Innovators have spent years being constrained by what others have told them they can’t (or shouldn’t) do. But today’s landscape is much different. Age matters less than it ever has, experience is less difficult to gather than ever before, and the connected world that we live in means that global collaboration is a simple reality.

If Health:Further taught me any one thing, it’s that there is not only a need, but also the means, to bring about the future of health. So stop waiting for someone to give you permission. Build something, advise someone who is, or invest in those who have. The world of innovation is ours.

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