John O’Connor

It’s easy to take clinical innovation for granted. But there is no denying that various breakthroughs are making life better for both our residents and ourselves.

In recent decades, we have seen the introduction of medical lasers, 3D printed body parts, gene therapy, and a 40% drop in deaths caused by heart disease, to name but a few developments.

There is much to admire about the march of clinical innovation. Yet it remains hampered by one thing: ridiculous delay. By some estimates, 17 years typically elapse between the time of medical discovery and applied patient care.

Think of the possible medicines for diseases of the aging that are still working their way through the pipeline. Or medical devices that could foster better health and independence that remain in waiting. Combined, they represent a lot of death and suffering that could have potentially been avoided or reduced.

To be sure, there needs to be a balance between protecting public health and bringing health-preserving options to the market. But 17 years? C’mon!

Fortunately, things here might soon begin to change for the better.

As a way to get drugs and medical devices to patients quicker, the Department of Health and Human Services is pushing for new resources and public-private partnerships, as a part of a newly-announced ReImagine HHS: Accelerate Clinical Innovation Initiative.

Toward that effort, The Department will hold public meetings June 20-21 to solicit input and comment on opportunities to leverage departmental resources, increase collaboration, and to partner with private stakeholders to pick up the pace of clinical innovation.

If you are so moved, you may want to attend the event — and perhaps even offer a suggestion or two.

Regardless, this could be a watershed development for this sector.

We hear more and more these days about the importance of delivering quality care in skilled care settings. Surely, gaining quicker access to helpful medicines and devices will only help here.

John O’Connor is McKnight’s Editorial Director.