Josh Linkner inspires anesthesiologists to be innovators

“Health care is in the midst of upheaval, with new technology and trends in patient care. By applying fresh and proven approaches to innovation, anesthesiologists can drive more meaningful results and adapt to changes in the field,” said best-selling author and entrepreneur Josh Linkner, who kicked off ANESTHESIOLOGY 2018 with his powerful presentation at Saturday’s Opening Session: “Harnessing Innovation: Turning Raw Ideas into Powerful Results.”

Linkner opened with the premise that anesthesiologists shouldn’t rely on medical product development companies to drive innovation in the field.

Josh Linkner inspires at ANESTHESIOLOGY 2018 Opening Session.

“We all are creative. Through the lens of innovation, everyone, at all levels, can better seize their biggest opportunities and tackle the most pressing challenges.” he said.

He encouraged attendees to tap into their creative potential.

“Human creativity is the one thing that can’t be outsourced or automated,” Linkner said. “It’s the root source of transformation.”

To better benefit your patients and community, Linkner recommended a “mindset makeover” by adopting these six core principles:

Every barrier can be penetrated. Linkner shared an example of a library in Troy, Michigan, challenged by funding and potentially having to close due to lack of municipal tax support. Groups with a “no new taxes” platform were prevailing until the library developed a creative, facetious book-burning campaign on social media with the message: “A vote against the library is like a vote to burn books.” Ignited, voter turnout was 400 percent higher than expected. The library got its funding.

“No matter how difficult the obstacle, if we throw enough creativity at it, that barrier will melt away,” Linkner said.

Video killed the rock star. This mindset tweak is about “a willingness to lean in to what’s next,” Linkner said. For example, when Ben & Jerry’s retired its “Wavy Gravy” ice cream after it had run its course with consumers, the company buried the flavor by having a flavor funeral. It was the company’s way of celebrating what was past its prime and making room for something new. Similarly, “look around your practice and ask yourself: ‘What’s the thing that needs to be let go of to make room for something new?’” Linkner said.

Change the rules to get the jewels. Are there ways you can inject change, such as changing the team or location?

“Too often, we overestimate the risk of trying something new but underestimate the risk of standing still,” Linkner said.

Borrow ideas. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. What’s going on in the fashion or tech industry that might translate to your practice?

“Borrowed ideas lead to big innovations,” Linkner said.

Seek the unexpected. Linkner cited a bicycle company that printed a flat screen T.V. image on its shipping boxes to reduce damage during shipping. It worked! Delivery people automatically handled its bicycles more carefully.

“Sometimes wacky ideas are what change the world,” Linkner said.

Fall seven times, stand eight. This mindset makeover is all about the power of persistence.

“We’re all going to stumble, but it shouldn’t be a defining moment. Use grit and determination to better serve your patients,” Linkner said.

Overall, Linkner encouraged the audience to create safe environments in their institutions for experimentation and responsible risk-taking.

“Now is our time to change the rules to get the jewels. If we can do that, as an industry, our best days are yet to come,” he said.

Australian anesthesiologist Dr. Richard Harris was honored for his “outstanding bravery and heroic efforts” in the rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in a Thai cave this summer.

Proclamation for Richard Harris

Before introducing Josh Linkner, ASA President James D. Grant, M.D., M.B.A., FASA, announced a proclamation in honor of Australian anesthesiologist Dr. Richard Harris for his “outstanding bravery and heroic efforts” in the complicated rescue mission that saved the lives of 12 boys and their soccer coach, who were trapped in a Thai cave this summer. Dr. Harris addressed the Opening Session audience with a prerecorded video message.

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