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Interview with VSSL Director: Innovation is a Word that Sucks Up All the Oxygen in the Room

In an interview with the CEO of Buoy Health, VSSL's Joshua Liao discussed innovation in the context of health care payment, delivery, and decision-making.

Drs. Le and Liao discuss a number of topics during their wide-ranging conversation. One was how Dr. Liao's work allows him to "step back and and look at these trends from policy and behavioral science perspectives" and then "see patients on the ground," leading Dr. Le to ask if and how Dr. Liao sees "the ramifications of decisions that look good from a 10,000-foot view".


Dr. Liao's response: "Sometimes decisions look good in a policy brief or revenue model, but not on the ground in direct patient care. On the other side, clinicians often have to manage the things in front of them and lack the time or ability to consider broader policy or behavioral strategy. There needs to be a collaboration among people with different perspectives. As a group, we can all benefit from a meeting of the minds."


Dr. Liao also weighed in on the notion of innovation in health care, noting that it is "one of those words that sucks up all the oxygen. Some people think about robots sorting pills. Other people think about process improvements like changing clinic protocols."


To provide rigor and clarity, Dr. Liao tries to make a few distinctions: "I try to clarify whether we are talking about change that is disruptive or incremental. Another thing to clarify is whether it is adjacent to the space we're already in (we are adapting something for another use) or is it a proverbial moonshot (we are talking about a fundamentally transformational change).


If you categorize innovation that way, we're doing better in some areas of healthcare than others. I think we've made good gains with incremental innovation in the healthcare system, but we’ve made more nominal gains when it comes to moonshot-type innovation."


Check Part 1 and Part 2 of the interview, and more about Dr. Liao's work here.