There’s virtue – and genius – in flipping perspective on a problem in order to more cost effectively and elegantly solve it. Of all the entities we could suggest to find inspiration on how to save the big bucks, NASA might be the last place you’d look.
It turns out the space agency built a powerful rocket with a fatal flaw: vibration so intense during a critical stage of flight that astronauts seated in the capsule wouldn’t be able to make out readings on the instrument panel. After initially projecting years of delay and hundreds of millions in additional spending to fix the conundrum, engineers stunned themselves by ignoring the problem (a display that’s vibrating too much) in favor of the goal (astronauts need to be able to read the panel to manage the flight effectively). Rather than stop the panel from vibrating, they simply got the display to strobe and the astronauts’ seats to vibrate exactly in sync. Voila! Overruns and delays melted away, at a total cost of “a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of what they’d anticipated.”
It’s time to start thinking like this more often when it comes to health care. Like NASA, the system can’t bear spending the big bucks, and the era of sparing no expense or resource to attack a health care problem is reaching its logical conclusion of delivering diminishing returns. If folks in the high-stakes aerospace industry can do it, it can happen in health care too.
Typically we’d say “its not rocket science” to think like this, but apparently it is.