Innovation South Pacific

  |   Thought Leadership

photo-7According to leading economists the key to radically reducing costs, while maintaining or even improving services, is disruptive innovation. It’s all about viewing public services through a different lens. Instead of seeing programs and bureaucracies, the myriad responsibilities and customers of government can be seen as a series of markets that can be shaped in ways to find and cultivate very different and ultimately more effective, less expensive ways of supplying public services.


So that’s easy then. Look through a different lens. See your public sector as a series of markets. Consider what happened in aerospace, the onset of online music technology, the end of 35mm film. Equate that to healthcare and we can deliver QIPP.


But what happens when we cannot even locate the lens cap?


In a recent exercise with a group of clinicians, challenged to find integration based savings, a doctor remarked that “we were asking the wrong question”. Instead of asking “where can we find savings together?” we should have been leading with a different opening line.


In February 2011, Christchurch New Zealand was devastated by an earthquake that led to the acceleration in the city healthcare reforms and made significant changes in the models of care delivered within the city. The significant disruption of 300 acute beds closing caused acceleration and innovation across the city and brought forward the reform of primary and community care services.


“The earthquakes accelerated the pace of change. We found that the disaster boosted the use of innovative healthcare models and systems to provide better care to the community. Clinicians, policy makers, researchers and technicians rose to the challenge, innovating with the active support and participation of health technology companies. The collaborations have improved clinical practice and other aspects of the health system in novel ways.


In the immediate aftermath of the quakes, the fear of change was substantially reduced. I recall a particular meeting with the staff union who said: ‘just tell us what needs to be done and we’ll do it’. This was immensely empowering for all concerned.”


We are asking the wrong questions.


QIPP programmes between providers and commissioners should be built by assessing what effect sudden market changes or business disruptions might have and devise strategies to deal with them. Scenario and contingency planning avoid the dangers of simplistic, one-dimensional, or linear thinking.


And it is innovative thinking and a reduction in the fear of change that our health systems need to respond to the financial downturn.


The accelerated question in your local NHS system? You lose 300 hospital beds in a morning.


What will you do?