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The challenges health system leaders face in identifying and acting on innovative ideas were the topic of the February 2017 broadcast in the OpenMarkets Healthcare Broadcast Series. Maryam Saleh, Vice President of Programming at MATTER, Chicago’s healthcare innovation hub, shared examples and strategies from her work with startup companies, provider organizations, and equipment suppliers. A recording of the broadcast, titled “Bringing Innovation to Hospitals,” is now available for viewing here.

Saleh, who earned a doctorate in computational neuroscience at University of Chicago, was joined for the discussion by OpenMarkets Senior Vice President Tom Derrick. Derrick’s specific experience in supply chain management for hospital systems complemented her experience helping more than 200 organizations overcome innovation challenges. Supply chain leaders in the audience learned strategies for engaging multi-disciplinary teams, scaling early wins, and establishing funding.

The discussion began with a brief exploration of how dramatic change and uncertainty in the healthcare industry are driving the need for innovation and a more entrepreneurial mindset. Using real-world examples from Philips Health Care, Abbott Labs Inova and OSF, Saleh and Derrick illustrated a range of ways to bring in innovation – from growing your own, to purchasing outside breakthroughs, and fostering relationships with entrepreneurial startups.

A quick look at what failure to innovate looks like in healthcare followed. “People often think failure to innovate is tied to technology,” Derrick explained, “but in most cases, it has a lot more to do with the culture.” Saleh shared the example of Safe Start, an innovation developed by a surgeon, Richard Vasquez, M.D., that used an iPad app to create a better pre-surgery check list by linking communications between the patient, nurses, and the OR team in advance, resulting in fewer “never events,” and clinical, financial, and patient satisfaction benefits

The webinar concluded with discussion of six key steps to guide hospital systems to effectively bring in innovation. Saleh and Derrick discussed each of the steps, developed by Lyle Berkowitz, M.D., of Northwestern Medicine from the perspective on innovation overall, and there more specific application for supply chain leaders.

The point of the first step, “Identify the Minimal Viable Innovation,” was simply to “fail early, fail fast, fail often, and fail cheaply” – or in other words, to focus innovation efforts tightly at first, and in areas where the improvement will be most valuable to customers.

“Making People and Processes More Important than IT” was the second step discussed, underscoring the idea that while technology often enables innovation, it is not a silver bullet. Again, referring to the Safe Start example where multi-faceted benefits accrued, Saleh suggested training and encouraging your internal culture to embrace innovation is just as important.

With step three, “Start Small,” Derrick and Saleh simply suggested that innovators start in a smaller “sandbox” to test new concepts. Using capital equipment procurement as an example, Derrick suggested supply chain leaders might want to start with one hospital rather than an entire hospital system, or with one department, or process.

Steps four and five involved looking at your business with a new eye, “Applying New Innovations to Old Problems,” and “Trying Ideas and Technologies from Outside Healthcare.”

Finally, Salah shared another example of innovation from Dr. Berkowitz to illustrate step six, “Embrace the Power of Physician Happiness,” citing his innovation called Health Bench, which automated the prescription refill process to save physicians’ time.

“Innovation in the supply chain can happen right now,” summarized Derrick at the conclusion of the broadcast. “Start small, but most importantly, start. Waiting for innovation to be brought from others will lead to supply chain being reactive. Being proactive is something that we all want. We know it’s a better mindset. Take advantage of it.”

OpenMarkets Healthcare Supply Chain Broadcast Seriesis aimed at educating healthcare providers and equipment suppliers on how new processes and intelligence can be utilized to save valuable time, better collaborate with customers, and maximize efficiency. Click hereto sign up future broadcasts.