Incubating healthcare breakthroughs: New group aims to support chief innovation and strategy officers

A compass pointing to the word "Innovative"
A new society for healthcare chief innovation officers and strategy leaders, backed in part by the Texas Medical Center Innovation Institute, promises peer-to-peer support.

Toby Hamilton, M.D., developed a taste for healthcare innovation when he was the co-founder and CEO of microhospital operator Emerus.

Each new microhospital project was an opportunity to make changes, such as architectural designs that improve clinical workflow or patient experience. And because the system was modular, it could be customized to fill market and service line gaps.

Toby Hamilton, M.D.

“You could practically see and taste and feel the ideas that you came up with," he told FierceHealthcare in an interview.

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Now Hamilton is building on that experience by creating the Healthcare Innovators Professional Society (HIPS), a nonprofit professional society for chief innovation and chief strategy executives.

Based at the Texas Medical Center in Houston and backed in part by its innovation institute, the society's goal is to foster peer-to-peer networking and support services among a select group of hospital thought leaders.

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It’s going to be an exclusive group: just 33 members, pulled from different markets across the U.S. so that competition doesn’t hinder exchange of ideas. HIPS plans an annual members-only conference at the Texas Medical Center campus and promises to give members access to healthcare incubators, accelerators and capital providers.

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Because the chief innovation or strategy officer role is so new, Hamilton said, these professionals often lack a common framework, structure and tools to do their jobs.

“If a guy in Boston has a tech gadget, a strategy, a device … that moves the needle, he does that in a silo and it generally doesn't go anywhere," he said. That makes it “tough to make a big difference."

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Hamilton says the group will tackle some of the biggest challenges for chief innovation officers, including how to structure these fairly new departments and how to get the funding and other resources they need. Financing innovation has some organizations “screaming and scared," he added.

Innovation leaders “need to be able to see changes as they're coming and [pursue] innovations in a cost-effective way.”