Can co-creation ignite innovation in healthcare?
To improve access to, and the quality of, healthcare worldwide, multinational healthcare companies must be constantly searching for new and innovative ways to deliver their services. Innovation often comes from the most unexpected places, which is why these companies must recognise the value of the social intrapreneur and the power of co-creation.
Dr. Michelle Lem founded Community Veterinary Outreach (CVO) in Canada after she identified that many homeless people place the needs of their pets above their own, with some even refusing housing or hospital admittance because they have a pet. In response to this, she set up mobile clinics that provide care for both animals and humans, ensuring better access to vital health services for vulnerable populations and better care for the animals.
“We realise the potential of veterinarians and veterinary care to influence the health and welfare of marginalised people who are pet owners,” says Dr. Lem.
CVO is currently a finalist in the Making More Health: Co-Creating a Healthier World challenge. The challenge is a joint initiative between Ashoka and Boehringer Ingelheim that combines social and business values to identify new and better ways of improving health globally. It seeks to source social entrepreneurs working in health to provide an opportunity for collaboration with experts from Boehringer Ingelheim that will ultimately lead to improved access to healthcare.
Dr. Lem plans to use Boehringer Ingelheim’s employee expertise to replicate the CVO model their US Animal Health Division in Kansas City, Missouri. Boehringer Ingelheim will accelerate and increase the scale of CVO’s social impact. In return, the wide-reaching impact will place Boehringer Ingelheim’s brand at the forefront between the connection between animal and human health welfare within the community and demonstrate the company’s commitment to its vision to create “value through innovation”. Boehringer Ingelheim employees will also have the opportunity to participate in direct social impact, which could act as a pulling factor to attract and retain top talent within their field.
Mutually beneficial co-creation initiatives between large multinational companies and grassroots social innovations like this have the potential to revolutionise the healthcare industry. They provide social enterprises with the opportunity to scale their impact, whilst larger companies are able to redefine traditional concepts of CSR, and reduce the risk of “The Innovation Parodox”.
“The Innovation Paradox” describes how focusing solely on becoming the best at what a company can already do well risks failure of the company in the long-term future. If a company resists innovations and new technology in order to focus only on their core business, it is likely that they will become obsolete. In contrast, employing intrapreneurs — ‘inside entrepreneurs’ — to explore and invest in new ideas can create new value for a company.
Social intrapreneurs are fast becoming the most valued employees at many companies. By adapting entrepreneurial and start-up strategies, social intrapreneurs increase a company’s sustainability and cost-effectiveness whilst tackling some of society’s biggest problems.
The Making More Health: Co-Creating a Healthier World challenge is one of a growing number of platforms that are embracing the idea of social intrapreneurs by providing opportunities for intrapreneurs and social entrepreneurs to collaborate together. In 2015, Ashoka and Boehringer Ingelheim ran the Social Intrapreneurship for Innovation and Wellness course to promote and foster social intrapreneurship talent and changemaker skills amongst healthcare organisation employees.
Ashoka and Boehringer Ingelheim are working together to champion the potential power of business and social sector collaborations. By adapting co-creation approaches and embracing social innovations, large companies have an opportunity to transform the healthcare industry, and to ensure everyone has accessible and affordable healthcare.
Originally published at www.virgin.com on February 29, 2016.