Innovation is the backbone of healthcare?from medical devices to pharmaceuticals to research. Without forward-thinking risk-takers who had the confidence to promote new techniques, new tools, or new ideas, we would be living in a very different world.

Peter F. Drucker, a leading business strategist and author, said, “Innovation is change that creates a new dimension of performance.” It is not just about enhancing existing methods and tools. It is about looking at things in entirely new ways, about imagining a brave new future?and making it happen.

Innovation Is a New Dimension

We do not innovate for the sake of creating something new. We innovate to address and overcome healthcare issues and improve care. Let’s look at some recent innovations and how they are truly creating a new dimension of performance:

  • CT and MR Imaging?With advanced solutions, such as 64-slice CT, physicians now have the ability to see lifelike, 3-D images of the heart from inside the body. Such details, secured noninvasively, provide targeted results for both the patient and the physician. Likewise, MRI advances enable clinicians to see inside the human brain and map emotional responses as well as provide medical-imaging capabilities to obese patients.
  • Molecular Medicine?The future of healthcare lies in the ability to predict and detect disease. It’s now possible with molecular medicine. This area of healthcare will bring pharmaceutical and medical-device companies together, driving toward a new level of change andinnovation.
  • IT?Innovative information technology (IT) solutions combined with state-of-the-art medical imaging can provide a total solution package that healthcare providers need to address connectivity, interoperability, and overall access to patient information when and where it is needed. This point has never been illustrated better than during Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, when electronic health records could have significantly improved the efficiency and quality of disparate care provided to the thousands of evacuees whose patient records were destroyed.

Innovation Is Change

To understand the power and importance of innovation in healthcare, one only needs to recognize the pressures on the system and everyone in it?from the patients to the providers. Healthcare issues, including cost, accessibility, and interoperability, are continually debated in Washington, in corporations, and around the dinner table. The ongoing cry for improvement in these areas, as well as for an increase in the quality of care, is driving the push toward innovative healthcare solutions.

Innovations in medical imaging help us acquire better information, and advancements in IT help us better share that information. These steps forward are transforming healthcare delivery at a basic level: It’s changing they way you and I do business?for the better. It’s the key to overcoming the current issues of cost, care, and access.

Innovation Is Collaboration

Innovation within healthcare is not solely driven by the competition or the need to keep up with the Joneses; it is about creating solutions that reach physicians and ultimately make it easier for them to compete and deliver the best care. A strong commitment to R&D is obviously critical to fostering innovation, but, above all, is the commitment to true partnership with customers. We owe it to them and to their patients to understand what keeps them up at night. We must work side by side with them to create innovative solutions that directly address their challenges.

Innovation Is Culture

The true power of innovation cannot be learned from a textbook; it is cultivated in conducive environments. In the everyday challenge of saving lives, our caregivers are thinking about the next best tool to treat the people in the cancer center, the infant in the emergency department, or the patient undergoing open-heart surgery. Our job is to listen, work with them to bring innovative solutions to the table, and help make their visions a reality.

More than any other industry, healthcare must capture the essence of innovation and drive much-needed change?all while providing the tools to save lives. A year ago, BusinessWeek 1 investigated 75 years of innovation and looked at industries that dominate with new ideas, tools, or approaches. The healthcare industry was listed as one of the areas with explosive growth and change. But the article continued to ask if this focus on innovation would continue into the next 75 years. My answer? Absolutely.

What’s Your opinion?

Do you have another perspective on medical imaging that you’d like to share? Send your ideas to Editor Andi Lucas: .

Medical technology companies will continue to provide tools and solutions necessary for improving quality of life while identifying new ways to improve efficiency and effectiveness as well as increasing quality of care. Each new innovative product that allows for more accurate diagnosis will provide clinicians with ways to rethink care options and help shape public perception of the healthcare industry. The bar has been set. Now, it is our responsibility to meet and exceed expectations.

Tom McCausland is the president of Siemens Medical Solutions USA (Malvern, Pa).


  1. Business Week. The innovation economy. October 11, 2004. Available at:
    . Accessed October 13, 2005.