YOU already have a healthcare idea. Here's how to connect the dots
How do I know this? That you have a healthcare idea.
Because healthcare affects you. Like it affects me.
No other industry has such an all-encompassing effect. Impacting our lives from birth to death. From our jobs to the economy.
When a loved one is unwell, everything else takes a backseat. When you're sick, you can't really think much else.
Such close proximity to health and healthcare. It automatically makes you knowledgeable about the domain. Some of us can even be experts.
But we usually don’t think about healthcare this way.
We get so overwhelmed with problems. That we fail to lift our head out of the water. And ask: how can this be done differently?
But if we do. We will find not one but many healthcare ideas.
May be you are struggling to lose weight. Or, dealing with a chronic condition. Or, frustrated with wait-times at the local hospital. Or, your aging parents struggle to make it to doctor’s appointments. Or, your teenager struggles with early onset diabetes.
Or may be, you are part of the healthcare system. Bothered by bad technology, administrative costs, uncooperative patients, or legal challenges.
You are either at the receiving end of healthcare or the giving end.
But here’s the interesting thing.
Your problems may not be as unique as you think. What bothers you bothers many others.
Pause and observe everything surrounding these problems.
Find two realities that don’t fit comfortably with each other. These point towards unsolved problems that hide big opportunities.
Why are so many young people getting diabetes? Why are some doctors struggling with money despite being so well educated? Why does healthcare technology increase operational cost instead of reducing it?
Healthcare is full of such dichotomies.
Instead of jumping to solutions, focus on identifying specific problems. Especially those that interest you - or bother you. Learn everything you can about them.
Then look around for trends.
The world is changing
No check-out Amazon stores. Drone delivery. Cheap robots. Ubiquitous sensors. 3D printing. Driverless cars. Genetic programming.
Actually, here are 11 trends that are becoming a reality right in front of our eyes. Spend a moment to think how these might impact the work you do. Or, plan to do.
- There’s more medical data than insight. Think of the expanded role of data scientists in medicine.
- Genetic programming is the new software gig. How could programmers write code for developing cells?
- Lab tests are performed on a chip. Chemical engineers for microfluidics?
- Blood is delivered by drones. Aviation experts to deliver clinical goods?
- People live much longer than your grandma. Expanded elderly care?
- Your phone knows you more than your spouse. Teaching clinical skills to computers?
- Cataract surgery is safer with a robot. Mechanical engineers to fix robots?
- Mindfulness is part of your prescription. Yogis to make more apps?
- 3D printing becomes part of a medical guideline. Organ designers for clinical printers?
- Your insurance rewards you for being healthy. Healthy underwriters?
- Cancer becomes a chronic condition. Expanded palliative care consultants?
You will notice that healthcare is going far beyond the world of medicine. There’s plenty of opportunity for people from many other industries.
Connect the dots to arrive at new solutions
Once you identify a problem that bothers you. Are able to isolate trends that might relate to this problem?
Here’s an example.
Senior citizens often struggle to make it to doctors' appointments. They can’t drive. They don't always like to call their kids or neighbors to help. But like the idea of independence.
Now think about the trends. Driverless cars. They are a real trend.
What if you connect senior citizens + driverless cars + doctor’s appointments? What if hospitals were willing to send a driverless car to patients? And begin checking them in during the ride?
Now you can begin to think of locations where this makes sense. Bay area (where Google’s testing its cars)? Ann Arbor (where University of Michigan has wired up 1,500 cars)? Dubai (where there will soon be robo-cop cars)? Pittsburgh (where Uber tested its autonomous cars)?
You could think of partners. Corporations like Google. Universities like Michigan. City governments like Pittsburgh or Phoenix.
That's how you move towards doing something about things that bother you.