When Patients Become Innovators

Harold DeMonaco, Pedro Oliveira, Andrew Torrance, Christiana Von Hippel, Eric Von Hippel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


Patients are increasingly able to conceive and develop sophisticated medical devices and services to meet their own needs - often without any help from companies that produce or sell medical products. This “free” patient-driven innovation process enables them to benefit from important advances that are not commercially available. Patient innovation also can provide benefits to companies that produce and sell medical devices and services. In this article, we look at two examples of free innovation in the medical field - one for managing type 1 diabetes and the other for managing Crohn’s disease. We will set these cases within the context of the broader free innovation movement that has been gaining momentum in an array of industries and apply the general lessons of free innovation to the specific circumstances of medical innovation by patients.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationManaging Innovation in a Global and Digital World : Meeting Societal Challenges and Enhancing Competitiveness
EditorsRajnish Tiwari, Stephan Buse
Number of pages9
Place of PublicationWiesbaden
Publication date2020
ISBN (Print)9783658272401
ISBN (Electronic)9783658272418
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Free innovation
  • Medical innovation
  • Medical devices
  • User innovation
  • Patient innovation

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