Mass General Brigham, Houston Methodist execs: How to launch a successful innovation program

The pandemic has made hospital administrators more aware than ever about the need to improve their operations and care delivery via digital transformation, and many hospitals that can afford to roll out innovation programs are making that move.

Below, two hospital leaders who manage successful innovation programs, shared advice for hospitals looking to launch innovation initiatives.

Editor's note: Responses have been edited lightly for clarity and style.

Chris Coburn, chief innovation officer, Mass General Brigham (Boston): Know your organization. Its people and culture will be the source, enablers and, at times, obstacles to innovation. Clarify at outset definition, aspirations and rewards for innovation.

Build the innovation community — engage all stakeholders, stay with them and continually grow it, especially by discipline, age, gender and race. Assemble, develop and retain a skilled innovation team that prizes execution, understands markets and is willing to take risks. Invest sufficient resources and time to be successful in a fluid and complex environment. Create operational systems and policies to measure, drive and learn from outcomes. Study, seek and advocate for innovation wherever it is found. Educate, overcommunicate and celebrate successes. It's about the patients.

Michelle Stansbury, vice president of information technology, Houston Methodist: Keep the innovation team embedded within operations. All of the members within the Center for Innovation at Houston Methodist have dual roles to ensure that we are focused on the right problems and we can quickly operationalize the transformational solutions after successful pilots. 

Also, make sure that all innovation solutions have a solid ROI. Lastly, it is important to maintain a focus on innovation at all times, even when facing a pandemic.

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