• Aaya Hakeem

Innovation in Healthcare - Facing Scepticisms

Updated: May 28

Ok, so we've established so far that I will take any opportunity to talk about entrepreneurship and innovation.

Most recently, I was honoured to be hosted by my alma mater, La Trobe University, to be the final speaker in a program called Breakfast at Noon.

Breakfast at Noon is presented by Marcus Powe, an innovator and mentor to innovators, he started the show to talk not so much about the steps, rather, the overarching story of entrepreneurship and innovation.

Thank you to Marcus and Lauren for hosting me!

Previous guests included chairman of Cricket Australia, Earl Eddings, and one of my personal heroes, Michelle Gallaher, the CEO and founder of Opyl, an ASX listed tech giant that sits at (and mediates traffic) at the intersection of AI, social media and healthcare.

There are some real gems in this series, if you want to access previous talks you can send an email to La Trobe Innovation and Entrepreneurship via this page.

Marcus and I delved into discussions on clinical innovating specifically, my personal experiences with being an entrepreneur and the response from clinicians to my innovating, which has been a mix of positivity and cautious scepticism.

The reality is that, as clinicians, we want to make the world better by impacting people's lives directly. There is stigma against business, and speaking about business detracts from our credibility as a health provider - I mean, we're supposed to be making the world better, and business only serves to makes it worse... right?!

For example, a bit of the scepticism I have fronted has been with regards to potentially widening the gap of inequality in access to healthcare, by financially locking some patients out of access to SafeFlex. The fear of being seen as a business person who is contributing to social divide has stunted thought of the improvements to access the solution will provide - such as improving delivery of rehabilitation to remote and rural communities.

Innovating as a clinician doesn't necessarily fit the traditional methods of research that we have been taught - that is to RCT as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, often there is lots of validating, fundraising and theoretical work to be done before we can get to the RCT.

This leads to a general hesitancy around pursuing and supporting non-traditional forms of research and innovation among evidence-based clinicians, which I strongly believe is holding back our professions.

Healthcare is too slow to innovate and change - enacting behaviour change in practitioners is laborious even when there is strong evidence available, and healthcare systems are inflexible to change, it took a global PANDEMIC to increase adoption of telehealth even though we've known the benefits for YEARS.

Anyway... the key takeaway from the discussion with Marcus was that pursuing innovation and business doesn't have to clash with clinical practice and credibility, and we should view it as an extension of our clinical practice. My advice to new clinicians is to take a course in business, to understand business, and not to be afraid of discussing these topics and pursuing innovation even if it will mean setting up a business to build it.

As clinicians, we need to innovate to improve our practice and survive, and we owe it to our patients to come up with better ways to support them when current methods are proving time and again to be inefficacious. Publishing research papers isn't the last step to making change.