What is Innovation?
As we saw in the previous step, innovation is important in healthcare science, to ensure our techniques for diagnosis, monitoring, screening, prognosis and treatment remain at the forefront of knowledge. Healthcare scientists encompass a broad range of disciplines, from pathology and laboratory medicine, through physiological sciences to the physical sciences.
Therefore, some will have direct patient contact where-as others may be predominantly laboratory based. For example, in the laboratory healthcare scientists undertake blood tests, smear tests and examine tissue removed during surgery. They play a role in treatment using blood transfusion and are involved in aftercare, such as diabetic clinics, monitoring the effectiveness of medications and blood and sputum tests for monitoring treatment. Direct patient contact may include ECGs (electrocardiogram), hearing tests and diagnostic techniques such as X-Ray, CT (computer tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans. Healthcare Scientists play a specialist role in radiotherapy, reconstructive surgery and cochlear implants.
Innovations within healthcare science are often driven by increasing workloads and the need to develop more effective and efficient ways of working, to deliver the best outcome for the patient.
In order for patient management to evolve, healthcare scientists need to be able to ensure the development of knowledge and techniques to drive forwards progress. They need the skills to undertake audit and service evaluation to be able to measure the effectiveness of current service, but they also need to be able to identify areas for improvement. They have inspirational ideas, but need the tools to turn these into research and innovation.
Can you define what innovation is within your area of practice? Use the comments section to provide your definition and comment on how it is similar or different to the definitions put forward by your fellow learners.
In the next step, you will see examples of innovation projects from healthcare scientists.