This medical professor has some amazing insights on the reality of innovation

Professor Patrick Brennan.

Professor Patrick Brennan, an Associate Dean of International Research at the University of Sydney, is a leading authority on medical imaging, especially breast cancer screening.

He has overseen research projects worth millions of dollars and regularly collaborates on international research projects, including on breast cancer screening programs in different parts of the world. Through the BreastScreen Reader Assessment Strategy, or BREAST, Brennan has helped develop innovative tools to monitor mistakes and identify reasons for errors in screening assessments in order to reduce them.

Last month Brennan joined a Business Insider panel of scientists and technologists on innovation in the healthcare sector in Sydney.

In Australia’s current post-mining-boom economic transition, unlocking innovations that lead to productivity gains and new sources of economic growth are a focus of entrepreneurs, policymakers and investors.

But innovations mean little unless they are put to proper use.

Brennan has been involved in the discovery and deployment of a range of innovative technologies in his time and during the panel session he shared some wise advice useful to anyone looking at either developing innovations or deploying innovative new tools in their business — especially when it comes to trying to grow a global business.

Among his key points:

  1. An emphasis on innovation itself can come at the cost of making the most of innovations once they are in the field, what Brennan refers to as “optimisation”. Building on initial breakthroughs can be as critical as the breakthrough itself.
  2. People are different and the success or impact of an innovation in one market, or one part of the world, may be very different to that in another market or location. Brennan gives the example of breast screening, where a revolutionary new technology called digital breast tomosynthesis works extremely well on western populations but may not do so in other parts of the world. The lesson conceivably applies to many different digital business models – what works for customers in one country could tank in another.
  3. Education is essential. Improving the skills of busy practicing professionals, and teaching them to get the most out of new discoveries, can be difficult. Finding effective ways to train people to use innovative tools and practices required putting some thought into how people will really learn about it.

It’s a fascinating few minutes of commentary which you can see in full here.

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