J. Andrew Chacko, MD, MSE, FAPA – Healthcare Leader & Innovator, Educator, Medical Director, Psychiatrist. When I first began medical school, my idea was simple: as a physician, I would be able to innovate in healthcare as an “insider” and circumvent many of the problems that my fellow medical device designers were facing as they tried to bridge the gap with clinicians. In that simplistic logic I was horribly mistaken. I had chosen to specialize in healthcare innovation because at the time it seemed so ripe for good design – but I came to learn that it is not for a lack of valiant and brilliant efforts to do just that. This is an inherently difficult space to innovate in, for a myriad reasons – cultural and systemic barriers, and regulatory bodies to name a few.
The problem for designers in this arena, even exceptional ones is that for them to truly understand the deeper issues that girdle a clinical problem they must first “walk a mile in a clinician’s moccasins” – which is inherently inaccessible to them.
And while many clinicians are brilliant at their jobs, years of arduous schooling and training have molded them into what G. B. Shaw would call “reasonable people” – who have learned to adapt to the world around them. To look to them to help define the problems worth solving will at best lead us to the same quandary that Henry Ford postulated when he said that if he had simply asked people what they wanted, they would have asked for a faster horse. As this has historically been our approach we are left with a healthcare system that is an amalgam of iterative improvements rather than systemic, holistic and meaningful redesign.
This is where I am different; not only am I a physician, but I am a designer and innovator as well – and therefore an inherently “dissatisfied or unreasonable” person who demands that there is a better way to do almost anything – especially healthcare. Drawing on 20 years of leadership and team-building experience, in addition, I am able to conceptualize some of the very complex problems facing healthcare from multiple angles.
I currently lead teams at Stanford University teaching Medical Device design and the VA as a Medical Director in Psychiatry as well.