Terry Sharrer’s monthly column, iMed that begins this month will focus on medical innovations. Here is a brief overview of how Terry will focus his look at “disruptive innovation:”

No doctor, nurse, hospital, or healthcare provider of any kind wants to be perceived as “traditional.”  All want to have some piece of “cutting edge” innovation.  But a feature of current medicine is that innovation is accelerating at an accelerating rate.

Molecular medicine—the so-called “omics”—combine information/communication technologies, and engineering advances in diagnostic devices, materials, tissue regeneration with 3-D printing, microscopy and imaging, and automated systems individually and collectively can antiquate one innovation in the bud with another.

Moreover, innovation is rarely cheap, even when the new thing is put forward as “cost effective.”  It’s not a coincidence that American healthcare is simultaneously the world’s most innovative and most expensive.

“Disruptive innovation,” a term that Harvard professor Clayton Christensen coined, occurs when an innovator truly anticipated a future need and proceeds to meet it.

The personal glucometer is an example of that; it not only gave diabetics a do-in-yourself approach to blood sugar monitoring, it undercut the endocrinologists’ business of testing patients frequently in the clinic.

Since then, we’ve seen human insulin produced in transgenic bacteria, DNA sequencing that can predict Type 1 diabetes decades in advance, transplantation of insulin producing cells from a cadaver to a recipient’s liver, an insulin-controlling artificial pancreas, and a bioengineered miniorgan that produces insulin in the omentum.   

In this one genre, then, we can see the multiple wonders and worries that make iMed so astonishing.

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