But with so many innovators out there, it's hard to anticipate which innovations will fail, and which will disrupt the status quo. Below are four signs clinical leaders can use to identify whether an innovation is a flash in the pan or merits strategic consideration.
4 signs to identify emerging disruptive innovations:
1. Innovation meets an unmet consumer need
Innovations are likely to catch on at lightning speed when they provide a product or service that serves a previously unmet (or underserved) consumer need. If an innovation is significantly less expensive, more functional, or more convenient than what exists on the market today, then there's a chance it will take hold.
Ride-sharing apps are a well-known example of an innovation that identified an unmet consumer need—on-demand, affordable transportation—and disrupted the transportation industry as a result. Building off the taxiing need, these apps aim to get you to your 5 a.m. flight for less, and at the click of a button.
2. Increased market experimentation
Keep an eye out for "zombie" startups, M&A, or a spike in startup funding to pinpoint pockets of disruptive innovation. In many cases, zombie startups, or innovation companies that fail, pave the way for their successors. So, if you see a handful of failed innovations in a certain segment of the market, don't dismiss the potential for disruption quite yet. Shifting resources, either via acquisition or funding, also indicate market interest in and signal the potential for disruption on the horizon.
One of the best examples of increased market experimentation in healthcare today is AI, a space with 635 acquisition deals since 2010.
3. Enablers are in place for the innovation to succeed
Enablers are the components that allow an innovation to work in the 'real world.' For an innovation to break through, three enablers need to be in place: raw materials, a disruptive value network, and a sustainable model. Raw materials include the physical materials as well as the scientific or digital advancements needed to build an innovation. Disruptive value networks are the partnerships and suppliers needed to bring an innovate idea to life. Lastly, there needs to be a sustainable business model to keep an innovation afloat when it hits the market.
One of the best examples of the importance of enablers is Turbo Tax. Before consumers could file taxes from their kitchen table, Turbo Tax had to integrate their program with thousands of banks, investment companies, and tax forms.
4. No current policy barriers
Tracking policy changes provides valuable perspective on how and when an innovation might become disruptive because policy has the power to hold back or expedite the speed of disruption. Policy changes can also be an indicator of how the market will shift down the line. For example, monitoring federal or local policy reform on issues such as virtual care will give you insight into where you're likely to see increased investment and experimentation.
If all four of these signs are in place, the disruptive innovation likely merits a conversation with your executive team to determine whether—or how—your organization should respond. While some disruptive innovations may pose a risk to your organization and others may present an opportunity to better achieve strategic goals, the key is to identify disruption early and often. And as clinical leaders play an increased role in their organization's innovation agenda, you can use these four filters to pressure test whether or not you're focusing on the innovations that are most likely to disrupt the industry.
Learn more: 6 keys to implement innovation across the medical group
This infographic outlines the six keys to successfully implement innovation. Use the action steps as a guide to overcome common challenges in the implementation process.