True Innovation: Challenges the Status Quo, Changes Behavior

By Jeff Spanbauer

We are experiencing innovation at a record pace. In fact, based on Merriam-Webster’s definition “the introduction of something new,” I could argue that we see new things every day. Whether it a new product at the grocery store, a new website or a new service, we are all constantly experiencing “innovation.”

I am skeptical of innovation, primarily because I have heard so many advertisements that tell me how I can’t live without the newest. Take my television – I have learned that the more “innovative” something is, the more complex it turns out to be. Remember Google TV? Realizing the benefit of that innovation for me has been fleeting.

So to me, true innovation has two components:

  1. It provides clear benefits
  2. It changes behavior

As I reflect on what is truly innovative, I have a couple of examples:

The first is my Fitbit. This is a wearable device that creates better awareness of how you’re doing regarding physical activity. My personal goal is to walk 10,000 steps (5 miles) a day. When I began, it seemed like an easy goal until I realized that I typically only took about 2,000 steps per day at work.

I changed my behavior so that I started parking farther from the office instead of trying to find the closest parking space. Also, I started taking conference calls on my cellphone so I could walk around while talking. In addition, I started running more frequently.

Even with all those changes, I still struggled to get my 10,000 steps in, so now I have a treadmill desk at the office. Even so, every Sunday evening I plan my step schedule for the upcoming week based on my meetings schedule to help me figure out which days I should run in the morning instead of relying on my treadmill desk to hit my daily step goal. All this from a simple innovation that has helped motivate me to be active to improve my health.

The second innovation is tied to dental health. I recently was exposed to a new way of providing dental services to kids at a Cincinnati school. I learned that teens are the most underserved population in the United States for preventative health services, and dental decay is the most common chronic disease of childhood (it’s five times more common than asthma). The average high school student misses 2.6 days of school per year, of which 2.3 days of those absences are due to dental-related issues.

Although the city had a program to bus kids from school to a central area for a dental checkup, it typically meant that the child would miss most of the school day and get behind on classwork. Some innovative folks worked through city regulations, school policies and reimbursement challenges to open a self-sustaining dental clinic in the school to service over 1,300 kids and also kids from 10 neighboring schools. This is true innovation, which was accomplished in less than six months!

At Relevate, we are continually thinking about how to innovate – truly innovate. We aim to develop ways to enable healthcare brands to become more relevant to their local targets. Winning in a localized way is more important for brands now than ever, as the delivery landscape has radically changed from just a few years ago. Healthcare has shifted from fee for service to fee for value, and value changes for customers depending on the environment in which they live.

True innovation has two components: It provides clear benefits, and it changes behavior.

In order for healthcare brands to win in this new era, they will have to find scalable ways to be relevant to patients and healthcare professionals no matter where they live and practice, and no matter what environmental factors affect their decisions.

I would love to hear about your innovation successes and/or strategize with you on how to innovate leveraging regional relevance to grow your brand and help more patients.

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