Advancing Innovation in Healthcare

To start with, let’s agree on the definition of innovation. Simply put, innovation is to make a positive change to generate significant value. In many cases, innovation is using existing technologies in a positive manner to generate value for organizations. However, innovation is not foolproof and some are bound to fail. Traditionally, the recommended approach for creating a culture of innovation across the organization is to establish an innovation Center of Excellence (COE). The process normally follows these steps:

1.Establish a cross-functional innovation committee/workgroup

2.Develop specific strategies for innovation and their application

3.Develop the processes from initiation to prototyping to rollout

4.Dedicate funding and establish specific measurements

Today, the rapid pace of technology forces organizations to accelerate and weave these innovation centers within the organization. To foster innovation rapidly organizations must:


1.Educate their employees on how to think innovatively

2.Create a no-fault culture to encourage employees think innovatively

3.Provide the toolkit to all employees for properly evaluating each innovative idea

4.Leverage your passionate employees as champions

5.Add innovation category to employees performance evaluation

6.Include innovation in organizational performance measures

7.Embrace new technologies and develop a process for adoption


Innovation must happen organically and frequently. The new models to drive innovation look more entrepreneurial.

Innovation Trends

According to a recent survey by Mobile Health News, over 70% of physicians in the U.S. use smartphones to access patient data or lookup patient information.


• This is not the percent of physicians who have smartphones, which is probably closer to 100%. It is the percent of physicians that access patient data using their smartphones.

Pew Research also tells us that about 70% of adults have smartphones and that by the end of 2018, nearly 60% of population will have wearable technologies. This information signifies trends towards increased developments within the healthcare industry such as:


• Health monitoring via wearable technologies

• Virtual physicians visits

• Patients to carry their own medical information on their devices

• Integrated healthcare analytics (think IBM Watson)

With the escalating cost of healthcare, increased pressures for quality improvements and added regulatory requirements, innovation is particularly needed in the healthcare industry.

Institutionalizing Innovation

In order to institutionalize innovation, start by clearly defining the framework around innovation and communicate the process within the organization. One of the successful models in other industries have been called “Divergent Collaboration.” This is where you bring together experts from other industries with diverse background to foster innovative thinking. Healthcare has been lagging in this space and this type of collaboration may indeed boost the process. Only a handful of major healthcare systems, such as Mayo Clinic and the Kaiser Permanente’s of the world, are seriously investing in innovation. We are starting to see some level of collaboration between these larger more innovative healthcare systems and smaller hospitals. However, the entire industry needs to participate in this process since challenges are widespread. Here are some recommendations on how to get started:


• Manage investments and start small

• Be prepared to grow quickly and with scale as the technologies prove themselves

• Provide specific incentive to drive the right behavior

• Choose your initial projects carefully for early wins

• Promote the process openly and have poster boards and other visible signs to encourage participation

• Collaborate with external organization to create a sense of excitement

• Bring external expertise to kick start the process

Return on Investment (ROI) Strategies

In the end, all business investments should yield some type of return. Return can be measured in dollars, physician or patient satisfaction, and many other values to the organization. You may very well be investing to stay competitive. A lack of investment in innovation may ultimately erode market presence otherwise. Whatever the reasons for investing in innovation, the following are some recommended steps for measuring the ROI on your innovation investment:


1. Develop specific policies, guidelines and tools for ROI measurement

2.Implement a stage-gate process to track innovation projects valuations at key milestones

3.Build the P&L accountability for each business unit to derive the right behavior

4.Develop specific metrics for innovation ideas from each unit and openly report the metrics

5.Develop accelerated plans to implement the innovation company-wide if it is successful

6.Optimize your work processes for new technologies

7.Right size your infrastructure to support this transition (this doesn’t mean buy more)

8.Use incentives to shift patients to new technologies and drive down costs

9.Work collaboratively with payers to ensure quicker payback

10.To foster innovation across the organization:

• Educate your employees on how to think innovatively and evaluate their ideas

• Add innovation category to performance evaluations


You should also strive to engage Patients in this process by:


1.Embracing the new technologies and starting pilot projects

2.Actively listening to your patients and staying ahead of the game

3.And finally incorporating episode of care with technology

United States ranks in the top 10 innovative countries and that has propelled our economy. There is good reason to believe adopting an innovation culture would have the same results for healthcare.


Zand, Peyman. Mon, 18 Jul 2016. “Advancing Innovaton in Healthcare.” LinkedIn. Retrieved from