Can lessons learned in one industry can assist another industry? It seems so. Keeping with the theme of Open Innovation started in my previous post, I will now explore an example of perhaps one of the most fascinating examples of recombinant innovation. That is the application of Formula One pit stop disciplines to the hand over procedures of intensive care hospital patients during critical and complex surgery. Hard to believe? Well then read on to find out more!
It all started when surgeons at a childrens hospital in London became aware of the similarities between the handover disciplines from the operation theater after a complex heart surgery to the intensive care ward and what they noticed in the pit-stop of a Formula One team during race day. 
During the surgical hand over procedure, a bewildering array of technology and support equipment (ventilation, 2-4 monitoring lines, multiple inotropes and vasodilators) is transferred twice, all above the young patient’s head. First from the theater systems to portable equipment, and then from the portable equipment to the intensive care systems and it must all be accomplished within 15 minutes. In addition to this a further difficulty arises from the fact that the theater team during the course of the operation have acquired intimate knowledge of the patient while the intensive care team knows nothing about the patient at the time of transfer. All this information needs to be passed over seamlessly to ensure proper care can be provided to the vulnerable patient. It is this combination of complex, time critical tasks that make this process extremely susceptible to error at a time when the patient is at their most vulnerable. 
A Formula 1 pit-stop has been viewed by many experts as an ideal example of how a multi-professional team cooperates as a single unit to effectively and efficiently perform a complex task under extreme time pressure. During the approximately 7 second pit-stop, the crew have to change four tyres, refuel the car and if required, make a number of small adjustments to the set-up of the vehicle.
The similarities between the stresses and objectives of the two scenarios are evident. Not only are there requirements for teamwork and safety but also for split second coordination under decisive leadership and direction for all team members should something go wrong.
By working together with the pit crew of the Ferrari Formula One team and their Race Technical Director Nigel Stepney and applying the established procedures from Formula One, the hospital surgeons were able to significantly improve the hand-over procedure and dramatically reduce the number of information omissions and technical errors.
Below is a diagrammatic comparison between a Formula One pit stop and Open Heart Surgery team member positions. As can be appreciated, the implementation of the Formula One Approach was a resounding success resulting in many young lives being saved.
Who knows in how many other industries there are examples to learned from and applied in many completely different situations? One thing is for certain though, we are just beginning to scratch the surface of the potential that Recombinant Innovation has to offer.
2 – Patient handover from surgery to intensive care: using Formula 1 pit-stop and aviation models to improve safety and quality – KEN R. CATCHPOLE PhD, MARC R. DE LEVAL MD, ANGUS MCEWAN FRCA, NICK PIGOTT FRCPCH§, MARTIN J. ELLIOTT MD, FRCS–, ANNETTE MCQUILLAN BSC, CAROL MACDONALD BSC AND ALLAN J . GOLDMAN – Paediatric Anaesthesia 2007 17: 470–478