Proxiderm and the Concept of Disruptive Innovation
I want to talk a bit about disruptive innovation, which is an important player in the reshaping of industries. Disruptive innovation generally requires three elements, which I am going to define below.
- A new technology which allows something complex to be done more simply
- A business model which emerges to take advantage of the new technology
- A network of suppliers/enablers which supports this model
For further reading, specifically concerning D.I. in healthcare, I will refer you to Professor Clayton Christensen’s superb book, The Innovator’s Prescription.
Considering Proxiderm, the wound closure device I discussed previously, some elements of the disruptive process can be seen. The device allows wounds to be closed in a simpler manner than skin grafts, or regional/distant flaps. Some may argue that a multistage Proxiderm procedure is not “simpler” than a single stage graft or flap, and that may be true, depending upon the wound in question. With Proxiderm, elements #1 and #3 are at least partly true. It’s not a perfect example of the disruptive innovation concept, since the device supports, but does not redefine reconstructive surgery.
The disruptive element is that Proxiderm can be easily handled by a general or specialty surgeon with reasonable skill. In other words, many wounds which might have required the services of a Reconstructive Plastic Surgeon can be handled by the patient’s primary surgeon.
Rural centers using Proxiderm may avoid transfers to tertiary centers for definitive wound closure in some cases.
Although this example is a minor one, healthcare is poised for numerous disruptive innovations. As these take hold, they will continue to transform the field in ways that would have seemed impossible just a few short years ago.