How the healthcare industry can foster innovation

To encourage innovation within healthcare, the industry needs the mechanisms in place that promoted major advances in other industries.

Most health systems lack the research and development infrastructure that has fostered innovation in other sectors, according to Hospitals & Health Networks, and those that are better-equipped, such as academic medical centers, tend to devote these resources to clinical research. Among providers that have committed to innovation as a goal, such as the Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic, the difference is notable, according to the article. Mayo, for example, had nearly 40 innovation projects in the works last year.

But overall, resource constraints within healthcare discourage the kind of risk involved in meaningful innovation. This means the path to healthcare innovation will involve increased collaboration and cost-sharing among hospitals and health systems, according to Dan Wolf, chairman of the board of Munson Healthcare in Traverse City, Michigan.

Meanwhile, many New Jersey providers look to cross-sector partnerships with businesses and schools for more innovative approaches to population health management, according to NJSpotlight. The future of innovation, Garden State experts say, involves large-scale partnerships among community institutions. For example, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Program Officer Jasmine Hall Ratliff cited RWJF initiatives that promote a culture of health in New Jersey with goals to improve the diet and exercise of children. 

But panelists at the U.S. News & World Report Hospital of Tomorrow conference argued that the hospital itself remains the best setting for such innovation, as long as hospitals take steps such as working with "internal innovators." The emphasis in innovation should be on creating "an innovation culture within our health system," said panelist Katherine Steinberg, director of the Institute for Innovation in Health at UCLA Health.

In the meantime, healthcare leaders can take numerous steps to foster innovation by looking to some unexpected sources, such as Chipotle or the Apple store, FierceHealthcare previously reported, as well as accepting--and planning for--the risk of failure, as demonstrated by the Hub, an innovation initiative launched by Sibley Memorial Hospital.

To learn more:
- here's the H&HN article
- read the NJSpotlight article
- check out the U.S. & World Report News article