Monday, April 23, 2012

Omachonu frames healthcare innovation. ZocDoc matches unfilled need with unfilled capacity.

Authors Vincent K. Omachonu and Norman G. Einspruch of the University of Miami offer a detailed framework for understanding healthcare innovation in their paper "Innovation in Healthcare Delivery Systems: A Conceptual Framework": What is innovation? What does it look like in healthcare? Who are the stakeholders? How does innovation come about?

There's a great paragraph in their paper:
There are at least three stages to the maturing of a services industry. First, it creates a service that the market needs. Then it improves the service  to meet what the market wants and demands.  [Beckwith (1997)]. According to Beckwith, this is usually the stage where most services companies assume they have reached the goal. But some rare companies move beyond stage two, they innovate and devise services that would never even occur to a customer to ask for. They create ―the possible service. This kind of service can not be created by asking the question ―what do my customers want? but rather ―what would they love? This underscores the idea that services innovation is not always driven by customer input.
They go on to say:
The answers tend to lie in ... applying a new technology to new service ..., new technology to an existing service ..., existing technology to existing service ..., and existing technology to a new service.... 
ZocDoc, the online scheduling site for doctors' appointments, founded by Cyrus Massoumi and Oliver Kharraz, is the application of "new technology to an existing service." How they have figured out how to integrate with hundreds (if not thousands) of different physician scheduling systems is extraordinary. But what is really incredible, for me, as an emergency physician, is how many appointments are available within the next 48 hours. Many patients come to my ER simply because, in their own words, "the doctor couldn't see me for 2 months." What ZocDoc does, in the simplest terms, is match unfilled need with unfilled capacity. Both parties win. If you were to calculate how much money ZocDoc has saved the healthcare system by helping prevent ED visits, it would be a tremendous number. For all the details about ZocDoc, check out this interview on ThisWeekInStartups.

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