6 Steps of Healthcare Innovation with Naomi Fried, Chief Innovation Officer, Boston Children’s Hospital during the recent 2012 World Healthcare Congress
Is fostering a culture of innovation different in the health care sector compared to other industries? In the video shown below, Dr. Fried, Chief Innovation Officer at Boston Children’s Hospital discusses the differences and outlines the following steps of the healthcare innovation lifecycle.
Healthcare Innovation Lifecycle
An innovation’s lifecycle begins with the identification of a problem or opportunity. The innovator defines the vision and objectives, which should including identifying available resources and establishing the scope of the future project. Initiation is not typically a difficult stage, but it’s an important one to get right and, if skipped or not done fully, can cause problems later.
Often innovators confuse ideation with innovation, but ideation is really a piece of the larger cycle. It involves sourcing, creating, evaluating and filtering ideas to meet the innovator’s vision.
After harvesting the best ideas, innovators must build and test a functional prototype of the new idea. To succeed in the pilot phase, innovators need to develop a clear set of metrics and avoid moving “goal posts.” Failures in the pilot stage are a form of success and an opportunity for learning.
Now comes a chasm. In an ideal world, new ideas would be easily and broadly adopted with little or no resistance. But in real life, people are often reluctant to embrace innovations. I have coined the term “operationalization gap” or “o-gap” to explain the challenge of diffusing a new idea broadly across an organization. O-gaps are common in large, siloed organizations, less common (or narrower) in smaller or hierarchical organizations.
Leadership support, additional funding, training, change management and communication can all help close the o-gap. Sometimes technical help is required to expand the number of end-users.
My best advice is to recognize the o-gap and plan for it. Engaging stakeholders early can make all the difference in disseminating an innovation.
When a successful pilot is broadly implemented and the organization begins to realize the innovation’s full value, operationalization can begin.
Many innovators treat operationalization as the last stage of an innovation. But it’s not. The innovation can be further improved and customized by end users. For example, our electronic medical record is being optimized as end users introduce their own small innovations.
At some point, an innovation may no longer serve the user’s need. It can be hard to recognize when a solution has become obsolete; it could be due to changing needs, changing workflow or new technology available. It’s then time to retire the innovation and begin the lifecycle again.
Again, innovation doesn’t just happen — it follows a clear lifecycle that can be anticipated and planned for. Understanding and leveraging this lifecycle can help innovators be more effective – both individuals and organizations trying to develop meaningful programmatic support for innovation.