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July 29, 2019
MEDICAL MOONSHOTS: HEALTHCARE’S NEW EXPLORATORY MINDSET
By: Christian Nejm

What’s a Moonshot, you ask? Officially, it is a bold effort to achieve a seemingly impossible task. The concept originated with JFK who declared in 1961 that humanity would land on the moon. Think: curing cancer, colonizing Mars, building a self-driving car. Consider the smartphone, the airplane, a vaccination, or the MRI – while commonplace today, they were all crazy “what if” ideas at one point.

The adoption of an exploratory mindset could catalyse amazing developments in healthcare, too. Innovation is currently top of mind in healthcare both to meet rapidly evolving customer expectations, but also to advance the science of diagnosis and treatment.

Healthcare executives have recognised the shift in consumer demands, as demonstrated by the C-level responses to Accenture’s Executive Survey on AI in Healthcare, with the new wave of pioneers well positioned to drive us forward. I believe these trailblazers will use non-traditional partnerships and the power of the health ecosystem to form non-traditional alliances and crowdsource Moonshots.

As Google X’s Astro Teller puts it, the Moonshot Mindset is essential to progress because when you look to improve a situation by 1000 percent rather than 10 percent, you explore solutions outside of your regular structured approaches. This can often lead to revolutionary breakthroughs.

Adoption of an exploratory mindset

Businesses and governments are on board. The challenging and uncertain market has businesses trading in bandaids for breakthroughs, pivoting away from incremental progress with inventive initiatives that not only move the needle, but also change the game. Just look towards SpaceX’s mission to land the first humans on Mars by 2024, or Uber’s ambition for an entirely autonomous vehicle fleet. Business leaders are announcing their Moonshot goals to demonstrate a commitment to long-term innovation, including betterment of the healthcare environment.

The moonshot mission also resonates with government. We can look towards local examples, including the Victorian Government with its innovation fund, and the New South Wales Government with an innovation strategy to “Bring Big Ideas to Life”.

Healthcare is hot right now

In health, we see verily taking on the unprecedent task of the baseline study. Startup Health has proclaimed a focus on cancer, longevity, and zero cost healthcare. 3D printing of human tissue to end the transplant waitlist is on the horizon, as is bioelectronic medicine to reverse paralysis. Pretty sweet!

In Australia, the National Health and Medical Research Council is supporting breakthroughs with a $438m fund, while corporate funding is also flowing. The $170m Oneventures Healthcare Fund has invested in artificial heart transplant technology – a prime example of corporate venture capital flowing in Australia, and healthcare enjoying its status as the new darling. Health consumers are no longer satisfied by the status quo – and in response, the system needs to heed the shifts, navigating disruption to stake out a strong position as healthcare consumerism accelerates.

The bottom line: healthcare leaders of the future won’t be those organisations that move the needle in incremental fashion. Technology is changing the game, and those who want to keep up will need to install an entirely new dashboard to measure the kind of exponential change that is required, and expected, if healthcare is to remain sustainable and to exceed consumer expectations.

Got thoughts? Let me know! I’d be keen to chat through the implications with you.

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