Invent Less, Discover More!

Invent Less, Discover More!

I was intrigued by a story on breakfast radio on how one of the general practitioners practices in the United Kingdom have managed to significantly reduce the number of patient no-shows. The idea is quite simple, patients receive a reminder of an appointment by SMS. If they can no longer attend then all they need to do is send a blank reply. This automatically cancels the appointment. It is one of those ‘why did nobody think of this before’ inventions because, with hindsight, it is so trivial.
As a non-executive director with Health Enterprise East (HEE) I come across these kinds of inventions quite often. HEE works with NHS Trusts to commercialise innovations originating from real needs identified by staff. Clinicians become aware of a ‘pain point’ (probably the wrong word in this context but we’ll run with it) and invent a solution. One that stands out for me is the non-injectable connector. Intravenous drugs should never be injected into arterial lines. An arterial connector with a one-way valve prevents this. Simple, effective and life-saving!
Both examples are simple, beautifully effective and almost trivial because they are ‘just right’. So why didn’t anybody think of these solutions before if they are so obvious? It is because most inventors invent, but do not discover. People rarely take the time to stop and analyse a ‘paint point’ from the ‘patients’ perspective. Just taking the time to find out why things are the way rather than just accepting and carrying on makes all the difference. Once a real need is identified, solutions will follow quickly.
Unmet needs waste time and resources but in a clinical setting they can also result in the unnecessary loss of live. The solutions do not need to be high-tech, but we need to focus and spend time more on discovering the real needs by talking to those who experience them.
Invent less, discover more!
Dr. Leo Poll is Director of Akendi UK.  A firm dedicated to creating intentional experiences through end-to-end experience design, to learn more about Akendi or user experience design, visit www.akendi.com.

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