Over the last century, innovation has transformed the nature of healthcare. Antibiotics, vaccines and new surgical instruments have resulted in historically incurable diseases being treated routinely. However, the challenges facing healthcare are changing and now we must learn how to continue delivering high-quality care in the context of an ageing population, increasing non-communicable disease burden and spiralling costs. In order to meet this challenge, innovation is needed.
Innovation is more than just products, it can be ‘anything that creates new resources, processes or values, or improves a company’s existing resources, processes or values.’ Historically, much emphasis has been placed on new products, but relatively little funding has been directed towards researching innovative ways to deliver care for common, less-complex conditions in a simpler, more convenient and less costly manner. Examples of this might include: empowering patients to self-care, moving care to the community or point of care testing devices.
In this article, we describe three questions that will help leaders formulate an innovation strategy. We then describe three key concepts in the theory of innovation: demand, technological form and novelty. Finally, a brief description is provided of implementation theory. The frameworks outlined in this article are intended as an introduction to the subject and are limited to some of the common, popularly known frameworks.