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Big or Small, Innovation’s Got it All

October 17, 2018
Posted by: Gerald “Pharmacist Jerry” Finken, RPh, MS; Contributor, Meghan Mosser

Big or Small, Innovation’s Got it AllPhoto credit:

According to Merriam Webster, the definition of innovation is the introduction of something new. Although we all like to talk about the big changes, many times it is the small things that matter most.  The key is that it has to be different than what everyone else is doing. In June 2018, an interview was published by FiercePharma with the Mylan CEO, Heather Bresch, talking about the role of creativity and innovation in the pharmacy world.

Bresch cited two major examples small innovation gone big. The first is dissolvable HIV medication. This is important for patients in Africa who don’t always have access to clean water. Creating dissolvable HIV medication had a great impact as it made treatment possible. Another example Bresch noted was a new auto injector for injecting the company’s generic version of Copaxone for multiple sclerosis. This modified device made it easier for a patient to inject themselves even when their symptoms made it very difficult or if they had no one around to help them. Both of these “innovative” ideas changed the pharmacy world because someone was thinking outside of the box to solve a real problem.

Abbvie is another company that is thinking outside the box.  Another FiercePharma article details how this company has started collecting patient data using video games. Their goal? To analyze data based on patients who are afraid to go to the doctor. These patients ignore their alarming symptoms due to their fear and end up costing the healthcare system substantial amounts of money.  I think that this type of patient-focused innovation is going to change patient’s lives.

The pharmacist often forgets that they too can be world changers. Too often we get so bogged down on drug side effects and pricing issues that we forget we have a say–and, we must, as we are the patients’ trusted advocate.

I agree with Bresch, this is the side of pharmacy that our patients need. With our healthcare system going towards patient centered care, we need more small innovations, so that the odds of it being a game changer that will pack a punch, are increased.

The insurance industry, PBMs and Big Box pharmacies have instilled the idea that pharmacists are just dispensers and we need to stay in our box focusing only on dispensing, the number of scripts per hour and dispensing fees.

This is the time for our profession to change healthcare, think outside the box and take our servant leadership to a new level–no matter the practice setting, because in the end, we are all pharmacists.

If we don’t, we are doing a disservice to ourselves, and our patients, by believing that the healthcare problems of today are too big for us and we do not matter.  Innovation can and will change the world, and, I believe that pharmacists are ready to accept the challenge of changing healthcare for the better.

To this end, I am not only cheerleading our profession, I am also trying to implement new ideas such as the siteless model that I believe will not only innovate, but also disrupt once fully implemented.  The siteless model places pharmacists at the center of drug development rather than clinicians which, if you think about it, brings true patient centricity front and center to clinical research.

What small innovations have helped you? Perhaps you are working on one right now. What are your thoughts about innovation?

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