Why cross-disciplinary thinking has never been so critical

March 30, 2015 - Uncategorized -

Fostering innovation across all public, private and social sectors is a must-have for today; to be encouraged from anyone and from everywhere.

Healthcare is no exception. Since Miles Ayling’s appointment as Director of Innovation at NHS England, championing health entrepreneurialism from across the NHS has been a key focus. Initiatives, such as Innovation Exchange launched last June, and more recently, the NHS Change Day Pledge encourage staff to experiment more, spread the best ideas and accelerate adoption of them.


Publications have been joining in. Health Services Journal and Nursing Times are running the ‘Challenge Top-Down Change’ campaign in partnership with NHS Improving Quality to tap into the collective brilliance of frontline health and social care staff and generate ideas that deliver real and sustainable change.

Innovation doesn’t care what age you are. This year’s UK Young Scientist of the Year accolade went to Sarah Sobka, a 17-year old pupil at Sheffield High School, for re-examining Lubiprostone, a medicine used to treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome, for cystic fibrosis.


Ingenuity knows no borders. In the States, a Harvard University initiative, Defeating Malaria: From the Genes to the Globe, is working across disciplines to address the complex issues relating to eradicating malaria with transformational results. In Germany, the health sector is transferring technologies, processes and concepts from the automotive and aviation industries with huge success. Advancements in the telecommunications industry are enabling Mexicans to access affordable healthcare for the first time. In India, new ways of delivering high-quality maternity care for one-fifth of the price of competitor providers resulted from improved lateral thinking and solutions between midwives and doctors.

It’s true that necessity really is the mother of invention. And it was serendipity that a technological revolution was timed alongside unprecedented financial pressures on healthcare systems to create an explosion of healthcare solutions.

Our predicament as healthcare marketers and communicators is how to harness a more eclectic and experimental approach in a highly regulated biopharmaceutical industry, which is inherently risk-averse, dogged by a poor reputation and low trust.

Cross-disciplinary thinking provides a huge opportunity, and is the fuel behind our new Just//works offer.

We live in an age of interconnected health where the convergence of multiple and connected technologies and big data is reinventing healthcare. The flow of novel ideas and ingenuity created through the process of collaborative and collective invention with people from different fields, with differing perspectives, backgrounds, and with brains wired differently for problem-solving is delivering breakthrough results.

And how liberating to mix, mash and blend, to bypass conventional thinking, do things differently and feel invigorated by the collision of ‘and why not?’ views, approaches and opportunities.

The possibilities are limitless.

In the words of Abraham Lincoln: “The best way to predict your future is to create it”.

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