Seminar: Development, diffusion and adoption of health innovations by patients and caregivers


Pedro Oliveira, Católica-Lisbon School of Business and Economics.


Pedro Oliveira (Católica-Lisbon School of Business and Economics), Leid Zejnilovic (Nova School of Business and Economics) and Helena Canhão (Nova Medical School).


If necessity is the mother of invention, then innovation can be expected to occur in healthcare, while patients and caregivers, given the high level of necessity that the disease imposes on them, can be expected to innovate. In fact, there is growing evidence that patients and their informal caregivers, often develop innovative solutions to help them cope with their health disorders. In some cases, patients were even able to save their own lives. However, these innovations, only rarely diffuse (e.g. Oliveira et al. 2015, Zejnilovic et al. 2016).
The diffusion of these user-developed solutions, and their peer-to-peer adoption, is a poor studied phenomenon, despite the fact that it can potentially improve the portfolio of health solutions available, decrease the costs of development, and consequently the healthcare costs, while increasing well-being and social welfare.
In this study, we present evidence on the extent to which patients and their caregivers innovate. In addition, using a large data set from a random and representative sample of residents in Portugal (N=6204), obtained during the second wave of a longitudinal, prospective, observational, population-based epidemiological study, we explore the characteristics of three groups of individuals: i) the developers of health-related solutions for own use, ii) the adopters of solutions developed by other patients or caregivers, and iii) the rest of the population. We also studied “intention to adopt” its grade and drivers associated.
We analyzed group differences with respect to the socio-demographic factors, “trust in physicians” and “trust in medical science”, social interactions among peers, individual search effort for health information and quality of life. We found statistically significant differences among the three groups in search behavior and social interactions with peers. Also, we found a negative relationship between the trust in science and the adoption of patient-developed solutions, and the trust in physicians and intentions to adopt solutions.
We also discuss the potential of online platforms and social networks to revolutionize healthcare by promoting health-related innovation and fostering its diffusion. Finally, we discuss the case of Patient Innovation, an online platform that in 36 months collected and medically curated over 850 innovations developed by patients from a community of over 60 patients in the five continents.

About the speaker

Pedro Oliveira is Professor at the Católica-Lisbon School of Business and Economics; Academic Fellow at the Cornell Institute for Healthy Futures at Cornell University; Founder and President of Patient Innovation; and co-founder of PPL Crowdfunding. Pedro is Principal Investigator of several research initiatives.
Previously he was Senior Associate Dean for Faculty and Research at Católica-Lisbon; Academic Director of the Lisbon MBA (a joint-venture in the collaboration with Nova School of Business and Economics and MIT-Sloan Management School); Director of the doctoral program in Technology Change and Entrepreneurship (jointly offered with IST and Carnegie Mellon University). He was also an International Faculty Fellow at MIT Sloan School of Management and Advisor to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education.
His research has been published in Production and Operations Management (POM), Research Policy, Organizational Research Methods, Journal of Product Innovation Management (JPIM), International Journal of Operations and Production Management, Orphanet, New England Journal of Medicine – Catalyst, Technological Forecasting and Social Change among other.
He received his PhD in Operations, Technology and Innovation Management from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; his MSc in Operations Research and Systems Engineering; and his "licenciatura" in Naval Engineering from Instituto Superior Técnico. He also completed some advanced training at Harvard Business School and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.