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Reconcilable Differences: Using Science and Business to Drive Digital Health Innovation

Behavioral Scientist

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The worlds of science and business have traditionally been perceived as polar opposites to the point where each field tends to frown upon the other. Scientists and business professionals have inherently different objectives and views of the world. Historically, they also have been trained to take drastically different approaches to their work.

In academia, PhDs are taught to prudently say “no” in the absence of systematic validation, whereas MBAs are taught to immediately say “yes” and embrace new possibilities. Each usually thinks their approach is better than the other and each discipline can, likewise, make a strong case for following their particular approach. However, when it comes to advancing healthcare through digital innovation, integrating both disciplines is vital.

Good science equals good business because the investigation of digital therapeutic tools can provide new insights and relevant implications to optimize health management across pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, rehabilitation institutes, healthcare professionals, caregivers, and patients.

Here are a few important principles to help ensure the effective integration of science and business in your digital health initiatives:


  1. Question everything

Instead of viewing things solely from a business perspective that involves confirming a pre-existing bias, consider taking a scientific approach and start questioning everything.

Be mindful that science begins with a theory, and ironically follows with a number of experiments that try to falsify the hypothesis. So examine all possible factors and variables that could be associated with your theory to determine what works and what doesn’t. Remember that falsification is a good thing, and science must criticize existing theories in order to support what is truly valid in the real world. After all, it’s impossible to know the “real” effect on something without having exhausted all other possible scenarios and alternatives.

Healthcare problems can only be solved with proper understanding of (i) their history, (ii) context and environment, (iii) documented past failures and successes, (iv) scalability and audience, and (v) the deeper connection to the root of the issue.


  1. Acknowledge failure as success, not defeat

A crucial aspect of science is expecting the unexpected. Conducting experiments doesn’t always lead to novel breakthroughs or significant results, so it’s important to be prepared for failure. Paradoxically, however, failure is a measure of success in science. In many ways, digital health is about risk-taking, and if you’re not failing, you’re not taking enough risks or trying hard enough to discover true innovation. Only after failure, can you usually become truly innovative, creative, strategic, and knowledgeable of what works and what doesn’t.

Of course, acknowledging failure can be difficult for any organization that is driven by revenue. Many companies don’t want to admit to having failed (let alone admit that they embrace failure), but the reality is, failure is at the heart of scientific research. For digital health business opportunities, failure can translate into tremendous value for healthcare institutions, professionals, patients, and caregivers alike. The more comfortable and courageous you are in the face of failure, the deeper you can wade into the unknown and the more likely you are to make large discoveries.


  1. Translate knowledge into usable material

Questioning everything and failing multiple times can lead you down a successful path toward digital health innovation, but tying it all together into a successful business strategy also involves good storytelling.

A fundamental aspect of advancing digital health innovation through science is being able to translate your knowledge through the rigorous process and high standards of peer-reviewed journal publications—the benchmark of disseminating new information to the scientific community and general public.

While science is about delivering practical real-world applications, it’s essential to share your knowledge with the world. By showcasing your scientific research in vetted, respectable mediums, your audience can acknowledge your expertise and strategic thinking, and leverage your ability to be ahead of the curve. This is something we do at Klick. Publishing journal articles may seem uncommon for a marketing and commercialization agency, but we have found them to be good channels with which to share our scientific research and developments, create more awareness of our digital innovation capabilities, validate our accomplishments, and increase our credibility as a leading digital health innovation lab.

In the past year, we have had submissions published about:

In conclusion, the terms science and business don’t have to be on opposite sides of the spectrum; in fact, these two fields should be tied closely together for digital health innovation to flourish. Moreover, health innovators should embrace the scientific-business journey with all of its glories and defeats.

Scientists don’t have to wear lab coats and goggles, nor do they need to work in a lab with beakers of bubbling chemical solutions. They can wear suits and ties, and sit at the executive boardroom with all of the other business professionals. After all, science starts with thinking critically and having the courage to experiment with new ideas. When you simultaneously embrace science and business in digital health, there is no need to embellish the innovative research; the science speaks for itself.

More About the Author

Adam Palanica

Adam has a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience Psychology from the University of Waterloo and has utilized his expertise to advance academic research and commercial applications. He is well-versed in the use of effective neuroscience research techniques and proven technologies, such as electronic eye-tracking, electroencephalography (EEG), skin conductance response, and biometric wearables to obtain relevant insights on how people think and behave. With over a decade of experience in managing research projects across a variety of personnel and domains, Adam is an expert at the creation, interpretation, and communication of quantitative and qualitative analyses resulting in numerous scientific journal and commercial white paper publications.

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