Healthcare: What are your Innovation IRR's?

Healthcare: What are your Innovation IRR's?

When it comes to getting your employees (intrapreneurs), or the citizens of your country, to act like entrepreneurs, many have a hard time getting people to show up ready to play. Entrepreneurship is dropping in the US. In addition, some countries, like China, are mandating that products be increasingly made in their own country, like medical devices instead of importing them from the US and Europe. China may use incentives to encourage domestic hospitals to use Chinese-made medical devices as it looks to stimulate the local market and reduce soaring healthcare costs, a potential threat to the global firms who currently dominate the sector.

Since innovation (and lately, data) is the new coin of the realm, you need to demonstrate the IRRs to get people involved. The factors can be grouped based on the following dimensions resources, governance, strategy and leadership, organisational culture, human resources management, people, partners, technology and clustering and can be lumped into three categories:


There are two kinds of incentives: intrinsic and extrinsic. The most powerful are the former, tapping into the innerpreneur to satisfy a psychic need. Extrinsic motivators, like pay, will only get you so far and typically plateaus after a certain level. The most highly motivated innovators make it personal but don't take it personally.


Innovators need technology, people and money. In addition, they need an infrastructure that protects their intellectual property and the rule of law. Cluster dynamics are essential to build mentors and networks.


Sharing the equity that innovators create and harvest has to be linked to their efforts in a timely way. There has to be a clear expectation that success will be tied to a reward they value and linked directly to their efforts.

Your innovation IRRs will determine your financial innovation IRR. One will drive the other, whether it be in your hospital, company or country.

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs.

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  • Malik Farhan Akhtar

    The healthcare industry continues to face an extremely challenging R&D environment.

  • Katy Sutherland

    The scope for innovation and a steady supply of profitable sick care businesses have made it a fertile market for private-equity investors.

  • Steve Jordan

    Good overview

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Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA

Former Contributor

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is a professor emeritus of otolaryngology, dentistry, and engineering at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Colorado School of Public Health and President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at He has created several medical device and digital health companies. His primary research centers around biomedical and health innovation and entrepreneurship and life science technology commercialization. He consults for and speaks to companies, governments, colleges and universities around the world who need his expertise and contacts in the areas of bio entrepreneurship, bioscience, healthcare, healthcare IT, medical tourism -- nationally and internationally, new product development, product design, and financing new ventures. He is a former Harvard-Macy fellow and In 2010, he completed a Fulbright at Kings Business, the commercialization office of technology transfer at Kings College in London. He recently published "Building the Case for Biotechnology." "Optical Detection of Cancer", and " The Life Science Innovation Roadmap". He is also an associate editor of the Journal of Commercial Biotechnology and Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship and Editor-in-Chief of Medscape. In addition, He is a faculty member at the University of Colorado Denver Graduate School where he teaches Biomedical Entrepreneurship and is an iCorps participant, trainer and industry mentor. He is the Chief Medical Officer at and and Chairman of the Board at GlobalMindED at, a non-profit at risk student success network. He is honored to be named by Modern Healthcare as one of the 50 Most Influential Physician Executives of 2011 and nominated in 2012 and Best Doctors 2013.

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