Sometimes innovation feels like a process limited to scientists, engineers or investors. The regular clinician can sometimes feel out of place or out of depth. This should absolutely not be the case. Clinicians are central to innovation – essential in fact.
We have already argued before the need to define great problems as the first step towards meaningful innovation.1 Clinicians are the ones who both deeply understand the problem but also the end users of new innovations. In this article, we want to highlight clinicians again and the role they play in innovation. Specifically, I am excited to present a great, grassroots initiative to get clinicians more involved in innovation in dermatology.
Focus on the Magic Wand Initiative
The Magic Wand Initiative (MWI) is a creative educational and interactive program designed by-clinicians-for-clinicians to empower physicians to identify and solve unmet patient needs and teach them the process of innovation.2 The MWI cultivates patient-centered innovation where clinicians identify problems worth solving, practice divergent and convergent brainstorming, collaborate with stakeholders, prototype, and possibly commercialize solutions. Throughout this journey of innovation, learners have the opportunity to partner with other expert clinicians and non-physicians (i.e. scientists and engineers) to select which patient problems are worth solving and what solutions are worthy of further development and testing.
This initiative was pioneered, designed and launched by R. Rox Anderson, M.D., and Lilit Garibyan, M.D., Ph.D., at Wellman Center for Photomedicine and Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Dermatology in 2013. The goal and mission were to increase clinician involvement in problem-based research and innovation. Through education and empowerment, clinical dermatologists were the best positioned to identify important unmet medical needs and form teams to solve them.
We partnered with a nonprofit, Advancing Innovation in Dermatology (AID), to provide the education, support and tools needed to solve the identified problems. Since that time, the pilot program has achieved concrete measurable success, affirming that if clinicians are empowered to identify and solve existing problems, new and innovative solutions can be brought to the patients. The success has been measured with increased number of publications, awarded grant funding, patents, successful prototype devices and potentially reduced burnout in physicians involved.