CHASING INNOVATION IN HEALTHCARE
By: American Nurses Association
Five Key Considerations
In this time of high healthcare costs and complexity, accountability, and change, everyone is trying to innovate and invent with new technologies, processes and procedures. It can help to break this intensive drive for innovation down into some important rules of the road. Consider:
- Innovation doesn’t have to mean huge changes.
You probably don’t have to revamp everything to achieve the benefits of innovation. It can be small changes, like making sure staff are trained in certain areas, community health initiatives and wellcare, or small tweaks to existing services.Successful change is often incremental, and can be very impactful, too. Look at the evolution of handwashing in clinical routine, for instance. “It doesn’t take a lot of extra time or cost very much. But its impact on cutting infection rates and saving lives is incalculable. If only every innovation had that kind of payoff,” points out John Glaser, in Harvard Business Review. Organizations that dominate their fields often have a pattern of continuous incremental innovation over years. “This type of innovation enables the organization to learn which changes are working and which are not and adjust their course accordingly. Moreover, the organization’s members learn to incorporate a habit of making small changes and reaping their value, rather than treating innovation as an occasional and temporary inconvenience, after which they will return to their old patterns.”
- If change is radical, you better own it.
When the U.S. government mandated electronic health records (EHRs) in 2009, some organizations planned for it and owned it, and took advantage—while for others it was a real burden and battle.”EHRs required thoughtful redesign of workflows and roles at every level of a provider organization, as well as leadership, monetary and staffing resources, strategies to mitigate risk, and (maybe most important) stamina,” points out Glaser.Looking toward the future, new initiatives in telehealth are going to require lots of coordination and open minds, as healthcare organizations are faced with insurance issues, care logistics, cross-state licensure, changes in clinic workflow, and patient and provider education.If all stakeholders are on board, and planning and a clear vision are in place, radical change is possible and will probably be successful.
- You don’t need to invent to innovate.
Know the difference between an invention and an innovation. “Inventions are important, but they only rise to the level of innovations when they are broadly adopted to transform behavior and functioning of users or organizations or even society as a whole. In other words, innovations are inventions that have successfully scaled,” says Glaser in Harvard Business Review.New technologies, processes and business models are not necessarily innovations. In healthcare, it takes people on the front lines – like smart nurses – to incorporate these into medical care.
- Innovation may just be improvement.
All innovation should lead to improvement, but it can also be steady, incremental improvements and tweaks that lead to more efficient scheduling, improved infection rates, staff satisfaction and other, not-so-sexy results.Glaser says, “Whether we are innovating or just improving, the questions are the same: What do we need to do? What resources are required? Who will do it? How do we manage risks? And how will we know if we have been successful?”
- Invest in innovation
Regardless of how you manage your organization, innovation should be a goal, among all staff and nurses. You can encourage, teach, nurture and innovation in your workplace in many ways.Nurse-led innovation, in particular, can be very effective. So in 2018, the ANA unveiled an innovation framework, with initiatives directed at cultivating and inspiring future nurse innovators, igniting nurse-led innovation and celebrating nursing innovation.If you want to make a small and solid investment, start with ANA’s Innovation Bundle of two excellent webinars:
This package offers two of highly popular ANA nursing innovation programs to help you further the culture of innovation in your workplace. Both online courses cost $125 — $112.50 for ANA Members. Courses teach how to highlight creativity in nursing, gaining valuable insights that will build creative capacity. The bundle covers design thinking, with new mindsets, skills and behaviors that create champion problem-solvers.
Courses are Led by Karen Tilstra, Ph, who has co-founded innovation labs, including the award-winning Florida Hospital Innovation Lab (FHIL) in Orlando as well as the Orlando Magic Innovation Lab, and has designed and facilitated over 300 design thinking projects.