The Anonymous Widower

The NHS And Disruptive Innovation

I’m a great fan of disruptive innovation.  It summed up in Wikipedia as follows.

disruptive innovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology.

In some ways the classic disruptive innovation is iTunes, where Apple changed the music industry totally.

I, of course, would be a fan, because my first great success was Artemis, which took the project management industry out of the domain of large mainframe computers and cumbersome management structures into a computer that fitted under a desk.

But I have given this post, the title I have, as the NHS and other health systems is coming under pressure from disruptive innovation.

My other big innvation success was also disruptive innovation.

I was one of the backers of the technology that led to Respimat, a metered-dose inhaler.

That device seems to be too disruptive, as despite many years of development, I don’t think it is in general use.

It doesn’t use any batteries, compressed gases, nasty chemicals and is affordable to be throwaway. But despite their HCFC propellants, the incumbents in the healthcare industry, have not given market share.

But I have the satisfaction, that because of my scientific knowledge and practical experience, I spotted that the guys I backed could do something special. At least too, when I sold my share, I was well rewarded.

I do feel though that the NHS doesn’t do things in the same way as perhaps John Lewis would, when it comes to handling new methods of working.

As an example I was talking to my excellent GP about how having my cholesterol  results on my blog, helped the doctors in Hong Kong when I had my stroke. I said it would be great if all our medical records were searchable on line. We were also discussing a small operation I had on my nose ten years ago and wondering if it should be done again to stop the nose bleeds I sometimes get.

We then both said that computerisation had been an expensive farce, but we were both agreed it would be a good thing, especially if like me you travel a lot.  He did say Google launched something called Google Health, but that has now been discontinued.  Read about it here.

So did the general conservatism of health professionals and a lot of the general public kill the project.  Google don’t have many failures.

Reading about it, it seems that it would have been something I would have used.

If I look too at my Coaguchek, that is classic disruptive innovation. I don’t know how many use the device in the UK, but I suspect it’s not a large proportion of those who could benefit from such a device.

I suspect though that in a few years this device and its probably simpler successors will be as accepted as the monitors used by diabetics.

Small personal patient used technology like this will become more common.  After all, we now have a population, who love their gadgets and what better gadget is there, than one that helps you improve your health.

The NHS is going to have to get used to new technology and especially where that technology shows substantial cost savings.  But a lot of it, will mean changes in methods and management structures.

Disruptive innovation will improve the NHS, but it will be an NHS with a different number and type of hospitals, and staff not always deployed as they are now.


October 5, 2013 - Posted by | Computing, Health, World | , , , ,


  1. Good post James. Yes with freedom of information nowadays, patients are more likely to be given actual lab results. It would make good sense to have on some standard format accessible to other doctors and consultants. When referred to a specialist where I live, he relies solely on what is in the letter of referral and what the patient might have knowledge of. With private healthcare that we have, it would make it easier to ‘shoparound’ for a different GP.

    Comment by Anne | December 22, 2013 | Reply

  2. […] was reading a comment on this post when I had a […]

    Pingback by Coeliacs And Health « The Anonymous Widower | December 22, 2013 | Reply

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