11 big ideas in healthcare innovation

From their thoughts on how to respond to digital disruption in the healthcare industry to what makes a successful hospital innovation team, here are 11 key quotes about the role of innovation in healthcare that executives from hospitals and health systems across the country shared with Becker's Hospital Review in the past 30 days:

Megan Ranney, MD, director, Brown-Lifespan Center for Digital Health (Providence, R.I.): We think about innovation as occurring when you facilitate collisions of ideas, hopes and frustrations among a wide cross section of people. So the idea of innovation is that you take ideas or possibilities from disparate segments of society, bring them together and create novel solutions, things that would not have existed, were those ideas or frustrations existing in isolation. Innovation should be something that is collaborative, that really pushes the boundaries and also that hopefully works. Although, we're big subscribers to the idea that you can also fail fast and that sometimes it's through failure that you create the most impactful ideas.

Andrew Rosenberg, MD, chief information officer, Michigan Medicine (Ann Arbor): Disruptors should be recognized for their value to disparate employees even if there is some effort to adopt. Disruptive technologies, services and information methods should be immediately identified as valuable and even provide a sense of joy and awe in their use.  

Alistair Erskine, MD, chief digital health officer, Mass General Brigham (Boston): Virtual is the new black, and data is king. Those are some of the lessons that came out from the pandemic, and that is helping us think through how we improve the convenience of the healthcare services we provide for the patient. How do we better tune artificial intelligence in an unbiased way toward all patients we take care of so that we can help with decision-making? How do we drive the decision-making going forward, especially in real time, as it was necessary during COVID to be able to get a situational awareness of what is going on when resources are getting tight?

Claus Jensen, PhD, chief digital officer and chief technology officer, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York City): Instead of looking at the competition between humans and artificial intelligence in healthcare, it is much more exciting to focus on how the two together will always be better than either in isolation.

Todd Dunn, vice president of innovation, Atrium Health (Charlotte, N.C.): One of my most important priorities is clarifying the focus of our innovation effort. I don't believe you need a massive innovation team to create a culture of innovation; I think you need one that is extremely focused. The second one is to put a system in place that can drive the culture to be far more consumer-centric and evidence-based throughout innovation. The third one, scaling. The mindset and skillset and tool set of innovation.

Kathy Azeez-Narain, chief digital officer, Hoag Hospital (Newport Beach, Calif.): While EHR technology is a capable platform and it delivers what it needs to from a medical record perspective, I would say one gap that they need to tackle is applying human interaction design to the product. The experience still feels like it's coming from a technology place and not necessarily the person using it. It definitely gives providers easy access to critical information but from the patient/consumer lens it has gaps.

Chris Coburn, chief innovation officer, Mass General Brigham: If you look at the venture and public markets around the support of new therapeutic technology, they remain very strong. There have been financings, public offerings, some even involving technologies coming out of our hospitals. When we think about new technology breaking through, new drugs and even new digital solutions, the investment capital has been there, so the application of innovation has been unabated during this crisis.

Matthew Kull, chief information officer, Cleveland Clinic: Technology is ubiquitous everywhere, and I think you're going to start seeing a lot of innovation occurring much closer to the edge. And being in a position with a robust environment to support that kind of innovation is critical.

Sara Vaezy, chief digital strategy and business development officer, Providence (Renton, Wash.): Speaking from a consumer-digital perspective, our organization focused on building an AI-powered, COVID-19 FAQ and assessment bot that could support our patients in getting their questions answered and point them to the care they needed — which was a great start. What is exciting to me is our new focus on extending underserved people by sharing information in a linguistically and culturally appropriate way to help them stay protected from COVID-19, find test sites and eventually point them to community (both clinical and non-clinical) resources. 

Darren Dworkin, chief information officer, Cedars-Sinai (Los Angeles): Our encounters with our patients are often at a time when they are most vulnerable and looking for answers. One of the most helpful technologies we have found to engage patients in their journey with us is real-time information — whether it be test results, viewing a doctor's note or even simply seeing the names and faces of their care team. We have continued to focus on every possible way to get our patients and their families access to real-time information via web portals, mobile apps and even tablets when they are at our facility. We follow the mantra that knowledge is power as we continually seek ways to give our patients access to their medical information. 

Sven Gierlinger, chief experience officer, Northwell Health (New Hyde Park, N.Y.): In most cases, disruption is a forced-upon change derived from external influences — oftentimes, the term can take on a negative connotation. In healthcare, we are constantly pivoting to best address disruption whether it be policy, procedure and/or consumerism-based standards. It's how you react to disruption that will ultimately define if and how your organization will succeed.

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