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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