This post appeared originally on DiagnosticImaging.com
"Innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we've been thinking about a problem. It's ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea.
"And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don't get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We're always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it's only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important."
- Steve Jobs, 2004
What was the last thing you saw in your career that you felt was broken that technology could solve? You knew that there was a better way. It didn't have to be revolutionary. It could have been as simple as an idea for a mobile app, a way to communicate with staff or peers, or a way to order a procedure. Technology is moving faster and the costs of implementation continue to fall. If you have an idea, it can be implemented.
In response to my last post for Diagnostic Imaging about emerging technology that enables transfer of medical images, the president of Accelerad posted a comment that healthcare and imaging is five to 10 years behind technology. We are behind because disruptive innovation isn't originating from solving our issues. The innovation comes from other industries and then is applied to imaging problems.
The reason disruptive innovation doesn't occur within the industry has two main causes: supply and demand. Demand because we are risk adverse and slow to adopt new technology. Supply because the industry insiders are slow to observe the problems and to discover solutions. Both of these cause the delivery of technology to be reactive to trends and not cutting edge.
Last week I attended Ideation Bootcamp, an event to discuss innovation in technology. The presenters proposed a good framework on how to innovate: Start with what you know and start cheaper.
Several people had a chance to pitch their ideas to the audience. The problem with most of the ideas is they lacked insight into real problems even if the presenters had a skill set to solve them. Many are young and don't have a wide range of industry experience, so they innovate with what they know based on their experience and what is currently getting a lot of consumer media coverage. This means that the brightest minds are now being used to innovate on how people view advertisements.
In imaging there will always be opportunities to innovate on important issues. This industry knowledge that each of us has is valuable. Those crazy ideas you have may seem intuitive to you, but they are not widely known. Take those ideas and do something. Collaborate with technical people that can bring the idea to life, but don’t create a committee. Remember the maxim "A camel is a horse designed by committee."
Often when we have an idea, we begin to think of a lot of features and how awesome it could be, and we think of how it could revolutionize the industry. Remember to start smaller and start cheaper. Do the least amount to solve the problem. Say no to the 1,000 features that came out of the brainstorm session over lunch. As you add more complexity it is difficult to manage and understand the impact of changes. Imagine a large banquet hall where chairs and tables are connected with string. Prior to moving a chair you need to predict all the tables and chairs that will be impacted. Start with something simple and add complexity once that initial revision solves the first problem.
The imaging industry can be a source of disruptive innovation in technology. Be the innovator that you are looking for to solve the problems you see.
David Fuhriman is Managing Partner at Bern Medical, where he analyzes radiology data to discover under-billings. He is involved in high tech-startups in San Diego and in helping technology improve our world. He can be reached at David@BernMedical.com.