Martin Curley, Professor of Innovation at Maynooth University, was the featured speaker at the Lean Business Ireland Summit.

Martin is a worldwide leader in the digital health field, focusing on using technology to shift health care delivery to a patient-centric model. He was until recently Director of Digital Transformation at Health Service Executive (HSE), the entity that provides public health and social care services to everyone living in Ireland. Martin also served as Senior Principal Engineer and Director, Intel Labs Europe.

Martin is one of the driving forces behind Ireland’s digital health initiative: “Stay Left, Shift Left, 10X.” At the core of the strategy is the concept that digital technology provides an opportunity to provide 10X innovations or improvements, doing healthcare 10X better, faster, cheaper, and with increased capacity. He shared with delegates a useful definition of innovation that applies across sectors:

innovation is the creation and adoption of something new that creates value for the organization that adopts it.

As with most innovation initiatives, resistance to change exists in both the public and private health care sectors. This is even true where health tech solutions can significantly reduce costs and improve patient outcomes. Inverting the patient care model to focus on proactive wellness solutions and at-home patient monitoring via technology is now a reality. Yet, there still exist human obstacles to change.

Why do most innovation initiatives fail? Lack of clarity and lack of commitment. This may be due, in part, to various stakeholders failing to understand the common vision. So what is value? Is it making processes easier? Operations more efficient? Achieving greater market share? It is all of the above – and more. In Lean management, “value” is defined in the eyes of the customer. Patient wellness, delivered efficiently and compassionately, is the true measurement of success. Done right, greater profitability follows.

At the intersection of health tech and public policy lies measurable value: intangible assets that can be used for competitive advantage, debt and equity financing, and other economic incentives. With such a model, innovators can use and share open source as well as make proprietary improvements to existing products and services. Everyone wins.

Martin closed his talk by quoting the pugilistic innovator, Muhammad Ali:

To be a champion you need the will and the skill, but the will needs to exceed the skill.

The marriage of public health policy with private initiative can still be achieved. But it may take practical stakeholder training that utilizes lean six sigma systems to identify, protect, and continuously improve the intellectual property output of those involved.

In health care, the will begins with shared values and vision. Capturing and sharing innovation through lean, intellectual assets management training can serve to align the interests of public health and marketplace leaders.