Jessica DaMassa

The Case for Open Innovation in Health | Sara Holoubek of Luminary Labs

“Most large healthcare companies will have numerous teams – innovation teams, maybe a venture fund, business units – all doing different things,” says Sara Holoubek, CEO of Luminary Labs, a consultancy known in healthcare for its expertise staging open innovation challenges. “How much more powerful would it be if everyone agreed on a common investment thesis? ‘We know our business model is changing and, therefore, where is our big bet?’”

The ‘big bet’ is not always easy for stakeholders in healthcare companies to agree on. Hence, Sara’s advocacy for open innovation, a methodology built for collaboration both internal and external to the organization. She’s been masterminding challenges, hackathons, participatory design sessions, and the like in healthcare for years, helping pharma companies, health plans, health systems and government organizations gain access to new ideas from external problem solvers and startups.

Open innovation not only brings much-needed agility to the way these big companies develop products, build partnerships, or pivot into new markets, but it also helps clarify which business problems the organization is actually trying to solve.

Large organization or small, how do you know when it’s time to take your innovation efforts outside? How do you make sure that your open innovation attempt is truly a ‘challenge’ and not just a splashy brainstorming session or hackathon to nothing?

A few weeks back, Luminary Labs published ‘The State of Open Innovation Report’ in effort to help benchmark the practice and build its business case as a worthwhile methodology for business innovation. Seeds of the report can be found in this interview. Listen in as Sara defines the practice and shares her tips and best practices.

Get a glimpse of the future of healthcare by meeting the people who are going to change it. Find more WTF Health interviews here or check out

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As compared to the other 34 OECD nations and their healthcare industry, let’s accept that the practical and theoretical attributes underlying our strategies for improvement offer very little assurance that its over-all efficiency and effectiveness will substantially improve. In spite of isolated examples of high quality and efficiency, there is no evidence that our current strategies for healthcare reform will lead to steady and pervasive improvement. As a recognition that a profound level of COGNITIVE DISSONANCE may exist around our shared understanding of HEALTH, I offer a new, expanded definition of HEALTH as a basis for an improved focus for… Read more »


Addendum: corrected for 2016 dollars, our nation’s health spending per citizen was $3,726 in 1986. In 2016, it was $10,348. The increase per citizen annually during the thirty years was 278%. Apparently, our nation’s social cohesion as a means to improve HEALTH was unaffected by the increase in health spending. Remember, the research underlying Social Capital has demonstrated that a reverse causality exists between Trust and HEALTH.