Patient-innovators fill gaps that industry hasn’t addressed – or can’t – Harold DeMonaco and Eric von Hippel

Eric von Hippel, T. Wilson (1953) Professor in Management, MIT Sloan School of Management

From Stat News

Here’s a long-held assumption that’s ripe for a challenge: Valuable improvements in health and patient care should come from experts in the pharmaceutical, medical device, and related industries.

There’s no question that such professionals are essential for innovation. But our research shows that patient-innovators also have important roles to play and will fill significant gaps that industry hasn’t addressed — or can’t.

Take Lisa Crite as an example. Like all women who have a mastectomy for breast cancer, she was advised not to shower for seven to ten days after the operation to avoid contaminating the wound and surgical drains. Since that’s a long time to go without showering, many women resort to wrapping their upper bodies with plastic wrap or trash bags to cover the healing surgical wound during a shower. Not satisfied with that approach and unable to find a suitable commercial product, Crite developed the Shower Shirt. Not only does it keep the area dry, it also has internal pockets for the the wound’s drains.

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Young doctors struggle to learn robotic surgery, so they are practicing in the shadows – Matt Beane

Matt Beane
Research Affiliate in
Management Science

From The Conversation

Artificial intelligence and robotics spell massive changes to the world of work. These technologies can automate new tasks, and we are making more of them, faster, better and cheaper than ever before.

Surgery was early to the robotics party: Over a third of U.S. hospitals have at least one surgical robot. Such robots have been in widespread use by a growing variety of surgical disciplines, including urology and gynecology, for over a decade. That means the technology has been around for least two generations of surgeons and surgical staff.

I studied robotic surgery for over two years to understand how surgeons are adapting. I observed hundreds of robotic and “traditional” procedures at five hospitals and interviewed surgeons and surgical trainees at another 13 hospitals around the country. I found that robotic surgery disrupted approved approaches surgical training. Only a minority of residents found effective alternatives.

Like the surgeons I studied, we’re all going to have to adapt to AI and robotics. Old hands and new recruits will have to learn new ways to do their jobs, whether in construction, lawyering, retail, finance, warfare or childcare – no one is immune. How will we do this? And what will happen when we try?

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