How Health Systems Can Get Innovation Right: A Winning Strategy That Creates Real Change

How Health Systems Can Get Innovation Right: A Winning Strategy That Creates Real Change

It’s common for health systems, which feel pressured to innovate but are unsure how to implement change, to choose flawed approaches. Having a thoughtful strategy for success can make all the difference.

Innovation has become the buzzword of the past two decades in healthcare. Silicon Valley, technology vendors, health plans, and health systems all agree that it is the key to the future. Like Miss America contestants seeking world peace, “innovation” has become the canned response of healthcare board members, executives and industry pundits to the question, “How do we save the U.S. healthcare system?”

But, overuse and generalization of the term “innovation” has led to a loss of understanding of what it actually means. It’s not “doing the same things a bit better,” though this is the common threshold for many healthcare companies. Instead, it must be “doing new things that make old things obsolete.” The latter is much more difficult in the short term but is really the only way to achieve the quintuple aim in the long term. We should start talking about innovation as a series of separate skills and behaviors that require a different kind of leadership than exists in most healthcare organizations.


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