What do you think of when you consider innovation? I feel that the
word has almost faded into “buzzword” obscurity and became synonymous
with a group of 20-somethings sitting on beanbags, brainstorming with
Post-It notes and mind mapping on a whiteboard.
Let me tell you – that certainly isn’t the case.
Innovation isn’t just a buzzword
Innovation isn’t meant to be a big mystery – or confined to an
office with nap pods, propeller caps and a ping pong table. Last year
certainly proved that. However, for many people, innovation is just
another corporate buzzword with no real meaning or application.
I almost felt like an imposter when I was asked to lead my team in
creating a culture of innovation. That was almost eight years ago and
it’s been an incredible journey – one that has me learning to this day.
The discovery process led us to a simple guiding definition when it
comes to all things ‘innovation’. Innovation is making a change that
creates some kind of value. For us, we’re focused on delivering value
to our colleagues, healthcare practitioners and – most importantly –
Curiosity is key
Too often, people jump straight from the problem phase to the
solution phase, not taking the time to understand why they are facing
a roadblock. I often ask myself, how are we supposed to be designing
services for patients if we don’t truly understand the heart of the issue?
This is where curiosity comes into the picture. Having a curious
mindset means you’re asking questions, interviewing stakeholders,
holding workshops and otherwise getting out there to understand the
root cause of a problem.
The more you do this, the more likely you are to have that “ah-ha!”
moment that could potentially lead to truly beneficial, meaningful
change. Over the last 18 months at AbbVie, we’ve been able to deliver
an exciting (and award winning!) project that does just that –
delivers value and elevates access for patients.
How a simple QR code changed the story for patients
Medicines Australia received a letter from a woman who was
discharged from hospital with a number of medicines and was confused
about what they were for and how to take them. In sharing her story,
her request was simple: encourage pharmaceutical companies to create
easier access to Consumer Medicines Information (CMI).
We were determined to rise to the challenge. I was fortunate enough
to collaborate with this team through the process of innovation.
Firstly, we had to define the problem. The CMI is an important guide
that helps Australians understand how to safely use their medicine and
its possible side effects. However, patients don’t always receive the
document when their medication is dispensed, leaving them to search
the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) website or without access
to crucial health information.
Using the AbbVie innovation framework, we hosted workshops with the
TGA, Medicines Australia, industry partners, patient organisations and
other experts to develop and deliver a solution that would help ensure
safe and quality use of our medicines.
The solution? We’ve added QR codes to our medicine packaging to
ensure patients are always able to access essential health information
and other educational resources, like how-to videos and enrolment for
patient support programs.
Having access to information on-demand is empowering for patients.
With location check-ins using QR codes becoming part of the new normal
in 2021, most Australians are now familiar with the technology and
anyone with a smartphone can quickly learn.
You’ve got to keep the fire burning
If you’re planning to commit to a culture of innovation, you really
have to be ready to commit for the long-term. As soon as you take your
foot off the pedal, it’s incredibly easy to go back to business as
usual and slip out of innovative habits.
Ultimately, innovation is not just about thinking of an idea and
testing it. Innovation is having a strategy that looks at where the
company is headed, what challenges you might face and thinking about
how you can create value for patients, little-by-little, every day.