Research and development can provide innovative solutions to today’s pressing healthcare challenges. The NIH invests a vast amount of money in basic and translational research. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid also spend considerable money on innovation. In comparison, the health services industry is lagging behind. If the purpose of health care innovation is to improve patient care, who is going to make sure there are results?
Improved patient care is not going to be obtained by better devices and drugs only, it also relies on better treatment plans, more efficient and integrated care, and cheaper care without compromising quality. Only healthcare providers can drive this last type of innovation.
There are many compelling reasons for you as healthcare providers to get involved in innovation:
- The benefits are for you and your patients
- You have knowledge and insight in healthcare processes, which are often complex
- You have access to the setting, enabling you to evaluate alternatives
- If not you, then who?
Common reasons healthcare providers give for not getting involved:
- Who can I follow?
To a certain extent, this is a great idea—why reinvent the wheel? Yet, there aren’t always others whom you can follow, nor do their solutions always fit your needs. Often, a lot of twisting and tweaking is necessary to get it right. Little credit can be gained from doing all of that, while being the leader will greatly enhance your reputation and provide opportunities for alternative revenue streams, for example from education.
- No time
Do we keep ourselves busy with time-consuming workarounds? The Boston Consulting Group showed how an academic hospital could achieve significant cost savings while improving care, by doing things differently. However, such changes are not going to occur by themselves. They require a clinical innovation champion.
- No money
Necessity is the mother of invention. Innovation has salvaged many firms, from IBM to Apple. If you don’t make money available and don’t innovate, you soon will get into a downward spiral. However, if you invest in innovation, which doesn’t necessarily need to be very expensive, you will reap the benefits. You can then reinvest those funds in even more innovation. Which spiral do you want to follow?
- No training
Indeed, innovation is often not part of the medical education curriculum. Yet, given the requirements for Part IV of the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program of practice assessment and improvement, there seems to be a missing opportunity here!
If you would like to become a leader of healthcare innovation, you will need a process. Only innovations that get implemented into practice have the potential to benefit patients and create a return for your organization. Without a process, your innovation efforts are unlikely to advance beyond good intentions, which certainly is a waste of time and resources.
In addition, you will need a framework that educates your clinicians and employees on where to start and how to proceed, and what the ethical boundaries are in medical innovation. Healthcare innovation does concern patients’ lives intimately and follows many guidelines.
Currently, hospitals spend on average less than 0.09% of their operational budget on innovation. A structured approach to innovation is likely to yield improved patient care and lead to an increase in the funds made available across the healthcare services industry. The rewards of healthcare innovation, especially when resulting directly in improved patient care, can be great. Who does not want happier and healthier patients, and more engaged and happier healthcare providers?
Like to get your innovation efforts organized? Please visit our website at www.organizing4innovation.com or contact us by e-mail: info “at” organizing4innovation “dot” com.
NIH numbers: NIH webpage and http://blogs.nature.com/news/2012/03/nih-director-grilled-over-translational-research-center.html
CMS numbers: Deparment of health and human services, fiscal year 2013 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid services, Justification of estimates for appropriations committees
Health services industry data: NSF and NIST planning report 05-1 Measuring Service-Sector Research and Development