4 ways to inspire healthcare innovation

The healthcare industry can take lessons in innovation from sources as diverse as Chipotle, the zoo or the Apple store, leaders at the Sibley Innovation Hub told the Washington Business Journal.

Leaders at the District of Columbia's Sibley Memorial Hospital launched the Hub last year to foster innovative ideas from employees on improving care, Nick Dawson, the Hub's executive director, told the publication.

Sibley's tactics are part of a growing creative innovation movement in healthcare that draws from sources outside the industry, from "Shark Tank"-style contests to adapting strategies used at Disney theme parks. Here are four strategies that the organization uses to inspire innovation:

Set firm deadlines: Dawson sometimes gives staff 24 hours to come up with a solution. 

Look to other industries:  When staff noticed an increase in the number of accidental needle sticks at Sibley, they discussed the events with surgical nurses and then visited a local Chipotle to take notes on how employees avoided hurting themselves while rapidly cutting meat. They also took a trip to the Smithsonian's National Zoo and learned how zoo staff avoid snakebites. In the end, staff drew inspiration from an Apple iPad cover and created magnetized needles that land point down.

Discuss bad ideas: Some ideas work in theory but not in practice. But discussing the ideas can lead to the ultimate solution.

Give staff room to try--and fail: The 24-hour "sprint" challenges only work if staff can clear their minds and concentrate, said Lawrence Rammuno, Sibley's chief medical director. Allow room for failure so the staff can work to solve the problem.

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