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Unconscious biases against healthcare innovation

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A HealthAffairs piece looks at why healthcare innovation in the U.S. is so slow.

Jaan Sidorov, the author, notes that “many health system executives struggle with reconciling innovation with the downsides of abandoning existing business models and disrupting long-standing culture and workflows.”

“Advocates for innovation also note that responsibility for fostering innovation also includes health care organizations’ boards of directors. Yet, boards are grappling their own governance challenges and, since many directors may not have experience in the healthcare sector, they may also be unfamiliar with the underlying market drivers and specialized technologies that often underlie innovation.”

The article notes some things that could help:

  1. “Addressing downside risks. For example, an initial rollout can be restricted to a limited number of enrollees who are mostly likely to benefit, followed by expansion of the program only if measurable mileposts are achieved.
  2. “Including measures of early leading indicators of impact.
  3. “Recognizing that there often non-financial and non-clinical impacts, including the prospect of improving the Triple Aim experience of care and enhancing the organization’s reputation in a competitive marketplace.
  4. “Citing examples of the success of similar technology in other settings.
  5. “Avoiding subtle program descriptors (such as “research”) that could prompt unwarranted skepticism.
  6. “Reviewing all the just-published or Web-based information on the status of similar initiatives.”

The article sums up:

“One reason for the slow pace of innovation in U.S. healthcare may be the unconscious biases that have been described in behavioral economics. As innovators work with understandably reluctant executives and boards, it’s wise to not only describe a compelling business and clinical case, but to be prepared to address the mental errors that can otherwise undermine a good idea. ”

To read the HealthAffairs piece, please his this link.

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