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How strong are your innovation capabilities?

With changes being the new normal in healthcare, we –Organizing for Innovation in collaboration with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement – wondered what processes, capabilities and infrastructure, healthcare organizations need to deal with  these changes. And we wondered, would it help healthcare organizations to know how strong their innovation capabilities are?

Healthcare innovation capabilities

Innovation capabilities

From the innovation literature, we know what it takes to innovate, but how does that work in the healthcare context, where clinicians’ primary job is to take care of patients?

The primary reason for developing the scan was therefore to find out how the most innovative hospitals currently innovate so others can learn from them. What  are the processes , organizational support, and infrastructure that are used by these hospitals to innovate?

The sample

The infographic highlights some of the primary findings of the 83 hospitals who participated in the survey as part of the IHI forum session on innovation management in healthcare.


Not one hospital or healthcare system is alike. Hence, counter to our expectations, the sample does not show a major difference between the average scores of the different hospital types, that is between hospital systems, general hospitals or teaching hospitals. Instead, what we found is that it is strategy that matters. Hospitals with a clear innovation strategy scored higher on all process and organizational capabilities and infrastructure items, and scored higher on innovation performance.

Please know that these 83 hospitals came from a sample of respondents who all attended the Institute of Healthcare Improvement’s annual forum. Given the responses we have obtained afterwards, our sample seems to be more structured in their approach to innovation than the average hospital nationwide. So if you take the scan, don’t be disappointed that you score low. Instead see that as an opportunity to learn from the best and use it to see what and where you can improve.

The implications for your organization?

Organizations that have excellent innovation capabilities have the ability to act upon new opportunities in a timely, effective and efficient manner. This is a major advantage in today’s healthcare environment, where change is one of the few constants.

Without appropriate innovation processes, organizational capabilities, and infrastructure, engaging clinicians in the process is difficult. Without the engagement of physicians it is difficult to develop new approaches to healthcare that work and are embraced in practice.

Take the scan to see where you stand. The scan gives you an individualized report that shows which areas are your strong suit and where there are opportunities to improve.

The full report gives useful hints at specific aspects that will enable you to strengthen your innovation capabilities and improve the output of your innovation efforts.

The value of having state of the art innovation abilities

Engaging clinicians in your innovation process is a must. Yet, clinicians’ time is a costly resource. You therefore need processes and practices that ensure their time is well used and not wasted on trivial issues or endless meetings.

When the actual cost of labor of the involved clinicians is taken into account, innovation and improvement activities become a costly endeavor. Some organizations solve this issue by asking for voluntary participation in these projects. However, over the long run, asking your busy clinicians to give up their own free time is not a sustainable approach. And in the short term is not wise either, as it grossly underestimates the actual costs of innovation and improvement endeavors.

When taking change and innovation seriously, the true cost become clear, as do the valuable benefits of using state of the art processes and having organizational capabilities and infrastructure to make sure you get the highest return on this investment.

Sustainable innovation efforts

One of the main differentiators in the sample of hospitals between high and lower performers is the use of innovation measures.

To make innovation and improvement efforts sustainable, it is essential to keep track the cost side – as described above -, and the return side. Over time both need to be in balance, to make sure your innovation efforts are sustainable.

If you spent more on the execution than you get back, you are probably engaged in too many innovation endeavors.

While, if you innovate in an effective and efficient manner the return may be higher, and impact the organization in positive ways which you may not have anticipated.

The most obvious return is of course in improved health care outcomes and increased patient satisfaction. However, depending on the reimbursement practices, this may or may not create the largest financial return for your organization. The most direct returns are therefore from cost savings that are the consequence of executing healthcare processes more effectively and efficiently, and perhaps most importantly, from increased employee satisfaction and retention.

Take the scan

Take the scan to learn how you can optimize your innovation capabilities and infrastructure. Or for more reliable results, ask 5 to 15 people in your organization to take the scan. You can use the infograpic to invite others to participate in the survey. [gview file=””]

With more than 5 responses from one organization, we will provide you the aggregated results for your organization. Once you know where you stand, the scan provides you directions where to focus your improvement efforts.

If you are unsure how to interpret the result, or are wondering where to start, we are looking forward to helping you get off to a great start at improving your innovation capabilities and infrastructure.

Organizing for Innovation | professional services

Organizing4Innovation is proud to be the first to offer an innovation management approach dedicated exclusively to the professional services. For more information see