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Why You Need a Magic Wand to Solve Your Clinical Problems

Problem-based innovation might be a thing of the past. Once upon a time, academic physicians were expected to participate in problem-based innovation: the practice of identifying a clinical problem and correcting it through research and developing practical solutions. However, this basic course of action has fallen to the wayside in recent times as physicians are now carrying more administration responsibilities and a heavier patient load. According to a new study published in JAMA Dermatol, the percentage of academic clinicians working in problem-based biomedical innovation has decreased over the last 30 years. Some attribute the decline to the fact that clinicians are intimidated by the emergence of complex research tools. Yet, without problem-based innovation, the healthcare system will come to a stand-still. That’s why the Department of Dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital has launched a “Magic Wand” initiative to help facilitate the process of identifying and solving problems.

Clinicians lack the opportunity to explore ways to solve problems, and research labs are usually unaware of what clinical issues need to be fixed. That’s where the Magic Wand comes in, which is really just a fantastical way of saying get out your pen. For one month, 12 clinicians wrote down any concerns they encountered. Then during after hours, they convened for brainstorming sessions, where they discussed potential approaches and means for resolving the problems. Out of the 30 problems brought to these sessions, around 15 were solved during the late-night discussions.

From there, initiative leaders Lilit Garibyan, MD, PhD, and R. Rox Anderson, MD, came up with a strategy:

  1. Determine the barriers of the practical solution.
  2. Figure out how the solution applies to real world medicine.
  3. Evaluate all potential solution strategies.
  4. Bring in small target groups of research faculty, scientists, and industry leaders to devise the ultimate research plan.


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