Why health innovation needs the everyday heroes and the big dreamers

This week I spoke at a 100% Open event, as part of their Union network. 5 slides, 5 minutes on the topic of ‘transformational or radical’. The event is part of series of quarterly events that bring people together working in all corners of innovation, from material science to food innovation.

Some really fast-paced and inspiring talks on topics ranging from AI-powered healthy fast food to open innovation in humanitarian contexts; and as 100% Open reflected, there seemed to be a 50/50 split across radical or transformational.

I thought I’d share my one of my slides, and expand on a few thoughts I shared during the evening on the topic of:

‘Why health innovation needs the everyday heroes and the big dreamers’

A bit of a fluffy title I admit, but I wanted to explore the need for 3 levels of innovation in a health context; improvement, transformational and disruptive. In particular, exploring the pace at which health does and can move in relation to change and ‘innovation’, and the stakes at play if we get it ‘wrong’.

I made a point earlier this year about design and innovation in health which feels relevant here too:

‘Design like someone else’s life depends on it because when it comes to health it most likely does.’

This was the opening slide I spoke through – an ‘innovation matrix’ based on some of the work we’re doing here at Uscreates.

Observational rather than theoretical, it aims to help to visualise the type and scale of change we are trying to create through different ‘modes of innovation’.

The matrix outlines 3 levels of innovation, building on fundamental quality improvement (ensuring a universal quality of health and care) and moving through to more disruptive innovation, that is or could positively impact healthcare (i.e. artificial intelligence).

It then explores how these levels of innovation can happen at varying scales, from the individual or patient to an entire system or industry. I shared some examples in 3 of these spaces – improving the patient experience, health interoperability and technological disruption.

These formed the basis towards an argument that innovation is required in all of these 9 spaces to create systemic change and shift ‘health and care as usual’.

In particular, I wanted to share how we need both the everyday heroes who are making necessary quality improvements every single day; and the big dreamers who bring in new thinking to agitate and provide new ways of looking at health.

A big thanks to 100% Open for the invitation to share our take on ‘transformational or radical’. We’d love to hear your thoughts, and whether you agree with our suggested ‘modes of innovation’ in health. Get in touch with thoughts via twitter or at