Just a spark: Igniting innovation at the frontlines of clinical practice By Stephanie Morley, DVM Chief Operations Officer and Vice President of Product Development Zomedica Share. Learn. Make friends. The things we learned in kindergarten are still applicable today as we approach innovation in veterinary medicine. I know. I know. I hate the word innovation too. It’s now a buzz word. And it’s easy to feel like innovation is another to-do on our already long list. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Innovation is all about simple ideas and looking beyond the trap of our day-to-day routines. Not all inventions are lightbulbs and iPhones. Some of the best, high-impact inventions are really simple—someone invented toilet paper, coffee filters, and the cone of shame. As members of the veterinary care team, you innovate every day in practice. When you need to get something done but don’t have the ideal tool, you create the tool. For instance, you might mold an old metal coat hanger around a pill bottle to collect a urine sample from a small dachshund. Let’s face it, holding your hand underneath just might give any species a little performance anxiety. And if you’re wondering, my ad-hoc urine collection device worked wonders. When you use something differently and think “wow that was a good idea!” That’s innovation. You don’t have to start from scratch. You don’t have to create the next technological revolution. There are no rules—well maybe a few but we’ll leave that to the patent attorneys. The possibilities are endless when you focus on useful purpose, big or small. Often times we don’t have the specific tools needed because our patients are all different shapes and sizes. That certainly was the case in the small animal practices I’ve worked in. I’ve also seen amazing on-the-spot innovation when spending time in the field with large animal vets who used makeshift tools to do surgery that I could have never imagined. It’s ingenious and inspiring when you think about it. We are the MacGyver’s of medicine! Clinical practitioners are a critical part of innovation in veterinary medicine. It’s important for all of us to be part of the conversation, so all perspectives are considered during product development—not just in response to a final product. Because you deserve best-in-class products for your patients and your practice. Collaboration is a mind-set. And, the best way to collaborate is for companies like Zomedica to listen to what voice of customer (your knowledge, experience, and expert insights) is telling us. Tell us what you need or even what you don’t need. When presented with a new solution, tell us what to fix, what’s useful, and what you don’t care about. Don’t be afraid to speak up. We need your feedback! Our job is to listen and to improve on your experiences. That’s why I’m excited for this year’s Veterinary Innovation Summit, hosted by the NAVC, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine, and the Veterinary Innovation Council. The event brings like-minded, passionate individuals together for the same cause—innovation in veterinary medicine. It’s important for all of us to own our innovative spirits and keep the momentum going! But what really gets me energized is this year five of Zomedica’s Voice of the Vet™ members are joining me at the Summit! Dr. Marty Greer, Dr. Justin Harper, Dr. Ross Massimiano, Dr. Gail Wolfe, and Dr. Russell Howe-Smith are embracing their passion for new ideas and bringing their clinical perspectives into the innovation ecosystem during the Summit’s all-day boot camp and throughout the weekend. I can only imagine the exciting innovations – both revolutionary and quietly essential – that will come out of this event! Want more info on voice of customer or Zomedica’s Voice of the Vet™ Community? Zomedica will share more on our Voice of the Vet™ Blog, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn channels from Dr. Morley’s presentation Voice of Customer in The Innovation Ecosystem from the 2018 Veterinary Innovation Summit soon!