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Defining entrepreneurship within healthcare
Accelerating change, increasing complexity and the need to control costs are the operative terms driving the healthcare environment today, with the goals of improving metrics in both healthcare and patient health. Yet, physicians are not educated to understand the concepts nor trained to practice the necessary skills to carry out activities directed towards these goals.1 Thus, Myers and Pronovost have proposed making management skills core components of medical education.2 These include the management domain skill sets that concern individual and interpersonal dynamics, team and unit dynamics, and organisational dynamics that would have the potential to enhance interactions at all management levels, not only senior management. These ‘soft’ skills can contribute to quality improvement, that is, incremental improvements in the effectiveness and efficiency of processes throughout healthcare. However, these skills alone do not address the further critical need for innovation in those processes. The discipline of entrepreneurship, as it bridges the broad complementary disciplines of management and leadership, can make a meaningful contribution to this discussion.
In the first landscape review and thematic analysis of innovation and entrepreneurship programmes in medical education in the USA, Niccum and colleagues identified 13 programmes that provide training in these disciplines.3 They identify seven educational themes, the top two of which, innovation (92%) and entrepreneurship (85%), show the gaining relevance of these disciplines to medical education and to the future careers of medical professionals who will benefit from skill sets that address complex problem solving and solution design.
Defined broadly, entrepreneurship is the ‘pursuit of opportunity beyond resources controlled’,4 (box 1) embodying a singular focus to bring forth innovation5 (box 1) in any form, for example, in pioneering new technology that improves an existing process while counteracting resource constraints. Within the healthcare sector, entrepreneurship has taken the form of design …
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