Humanitarian Innovation + Medicine: Defining the Innovation Process

  • Krish W. Ramadurai
  • Sujata K. Bhatia
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Bioengineering book series (BRIEFSBIOENG)


The term “innovation” is typically rooted in ambiguity, as it is often defined in an array of contexts, adaptations, and subject matters. Its definition ranges from the simple notion of being a new idea or method to the more robust application of enhanced solutions that meet unarticulated or existing market needs (Baregheh et al. 2009). The reality is that it is an umbrella term that describes the essence of human ingenuity and discovery, essentially an impetus for creating breakthroughs in problem-solving. This book is unique in that we garner a spectrum of distinct innovation processes and dissect them in order to divulge novel ways of improving humanitarian medicine and human health. Innovation gives way to an array of thought processes that all serve the same purpose—to enhance the way we solve problems. When it comes to the realm of human health, innovations have the capacity to enact change by quite literally having the capacity to save lives and improve quality of life. Innovation has no greater impact and application than in the scope of human health and medicine, as it has boundless potential to change the world around us. In delving deeper into the applications of innovation in human health, humanitarian medicine is perhaps one the most vital areas of application. What is unique about humanitarian aid, whether it be in the scope of disaster, relief, or general aid operations, is that it is comprehensive in relation to the human condition. These initiatives typically involve the delegation of clean water, surveillance, sanitation, emergency care, social services, preventative care, infectious disease mitigation, and clinical care. This means that the application of innovations must be targeted in scope and refined to be feasible and easily deployable in these environments. This is where bridging the gap between theory and application comes into play. While many times innovation is touted as the answer to solving humanity’s most pressing problems, how exactly do we turn unconventional “out-of-the-box” ideas into feasible, conventional solutions? We explore this next in defining the four types of innovation processes that can serve as an impetus for enhancing humanitarian medicine.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Krish W. Ramadurai
    • 1
  • Sujata K. Bhatia
    • 2
  1. 1.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Chemical & Biomolecular EngineeringUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA

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