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Those were the headlines in the New York Times News Service yesterday, which I found syndicated in my local newspaper.  I couldn’t agree more.

As many are aware, Google is sponsoring a $20 million “race to the moon” for a commercial grade spacecraft that holds potential as a feasible vehicle for use by human passengers.  The premise of course, is that despite the great body of knowledge we’ve developed throughout the world, a little competition lights the fire that will ultimately catapult innovation from mere concept to proven reality.

I feel the same way about healthcare.  Now, it’s not too novel a concept to understand that innovation in the development and manufacturing of cardiac stents, hip prostheses, and endovascular coils is important…from all angles it clearly is.  What’s a bit less understood is how innovation in the delivery of healthcare is of significant importance as well.  Creating business models that place the incentives in such a way as to benefit the payer, the provider, and the patient – well that’s innovation too. 

The great thing about innovation is that it is a product of competition, something that we’re all built to foster, breed, and execute.  I worked for a hospital organization whose primary focus was fear of future competition.  Strategies revolved around how to prevent competitive entry in lieu of a focus on how to remain competitive in the face of it.  It’s not that barriers to entry aren’t important – they are.  But recognizing that competition isn’t easy, and that from it comes adaptation, change, and improvement allows one’s focus to expand toward innovation which benefits all, rather than protection which benefits few.

The new models of healthcare that we’re seeing develop that are the outcome of increased competition for a shrinking dollar (the medical home, concierge medical services, conglomerate specialty practices, cash pay physical therapy services) aren’t all going to hit the nail on the head.  Some are even going to fail miserably.  I say, kudos for trying though, as it’s only when innovation is conceptualized and executed that our healthcare system and private practice have the chance to develop something that sticks…hopefully like commercial airlines to the moon.