3 ways to put innovation back into medical education

The healthcare industry emphasizes innovation far more than do medical schools, creating an "innovation gap" that healthcare leaders must narrow, according to a Harvard Business Review blog post.

The post's authors, Regina Herzlinger of Harvard Business School, Kevin A. Schulman of Duke University School of Medicine and Fuqua School of Business, and Vasant Kumar Ramaswamy, CEO of Scriplogix, surveyed 58 healthcare CEOs about future needs for their organizations. The words used most frequently by the respondents were "change" and "innovation." However, an analysis of healthcare-related curricula at 26 schools offering graduate degrees in healthcare administration found the most common words were "organization" and "policy."

"At far too many programs, curricula focus on isolated subjects--such as health policy, analytics, quantitative problem solving--that are taught primarily through lectures in theoretical settings," the post states. "Despite the excellence of the individual faculties, programs, and schools, this siloed, abstract approach does not meet the needs of future innovators."

The authors' analysis found several solutions on which healthcare organizations and academia can collaborate, including:

  • Team teaching: The authors found a broad willingness to help with program design and guest lecture or co-teach among executives. Herzlinger currently teaches an MBA course in which healthcare reimbursement specialists help students develop business plans.

  • Mentoring: Similarly, Harvard Business School offers an "Entrepreneur in Residence" program to bring healthcare innovators into direct contact with students, allowing them to meet in both group and one-on-one settings and collaborate with faculty.

  • Standards and accreditation: Medical health administration schools' accreditation programs do not currently have specific standards for innovation-related core competencies, according to the post. "To address these deficiencies, the business community should collaborate with accreditation, licensure, and ranking programs to create innovation standards," the authors write. "In addition, it should consider working with schools' admissions programs to offer student loans and other incentives for students who demonstrate interest and competence in becoming innovators."

There is still work to be done within the healthcare workplace as well; providers can take several steps to create a "culture of innovation" within the workplace, including, counterintuitively, giving physicians more slack, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- here's the blog post