Why healthcare must adopt 'frugal innovation'

The need for innovation is a constant refrain in the modern healthcare landscape, but for the most part, that means added expenditures. To avoid this paradox, hospitals should opt for the principle of "frugal innovation," according to Becker's Hospital Review.

The idea of frugal innovation is often invoked with regard to economies in emerging countries such as India and China, according to the article. In short, it means that a shortage or lack of resources calls for finding new ways to work with what you have. Healthcare needs to innovate at low cost in response to shifting reimbursement models and care delivery demands, and that begins with getting away from the idea that innovation requires creation.

"Frugal innovation begins with the patient experience and the problem to be solved," Molly Coye, M.D., chief innovation officer at UCLA Health, told Becker's. "It asks the question, 'How can we do this at the lowest possible cost and the greatest convenience for the patient and their family and still have high-quality results?'"  

The idea that innovation requires investment, and only providers in a position to add expenditures can innovate, is a common misconception, according to Anthony Chang, M.D., chief intelligence and innovation officer at California's Children's Hospital of Orange County. Even though conventional wisdom treats large academic medical centers and standalone rural facilities as vastly different, their needs in terms of innovation are similar. Moreover, no matter hospitals' ability to invest in new technology, patient needs such as accessibility, quality care, transparency and bedside manner are largely universal, according to Coye.

There are several other strategies to promote innovation in healthcare that don't break the bank, including empowering employees and diversity in hiring, FierceHealthcare previously reported.  

To learn more:
- read the article