• Article
  • November 7, 2018

How a Culture of Courage Drives Innovation in Children's Hospitals

Innovation in children's hospitals is essential. It ensures relevance and resilience as technology and consumer expectations evolve.

Innovation starts with disruption, which is extremely good for health care—it will improve overall quality of care, patient safety, address epidemiology of chronic disease, and reconcile the dysfunctionality of health care. Nicholas Webb, presenter at the 2018 Annual Leadership Conference and author of What Customers Crave, describes disruption as nothing more than the speed and depth of innovation.

"Many health care organizations are still working the old playbook of predictable, linear and known change," says Webb. "If disruption is the future, and innovation is the driver of disruption, we have to ask—are we really disruptors? Are we building a culture that encourages courage to innovate? Are we listening to patient-facing stakeholders and turning the things they say into amazing innovations?"

The secret of innovation is surprising

Innovation is the creation of new value that serves your organization's mission and customers. The secret, according to Webb, is innovation isn't that hard. It just requires the willingness to connect with amazing people and engage in new ways to do things better. "Children's hospitals must embrace a culture of courage, the chance to do things differently. We feel uncomfortable about calling ourselves innovators, but the truth is, innovating is human nature. It's already there."

He suggests the best way to start innovating is learn the art of active observation. "It's easy to be an active observer, but organizations also have to create a mechanism that can take great genius and enthusiasm to serve enterprise and patient while adding more meaning to their life," says Webb. "Leveraging innovation to commute those observations to create beautiful experiences make you relevant in the future."

Four pillars of disruption in the next decade

Children's hospitals need to understand the four pillars of change to prepare for, and respond quickly to, evolving customer expectations. They want and need things much differently than they did in the last five to 10 years. "These pillars are a major aspect of what it means to have innovation value," says Webb. "When I look at the incredible mission statements of children's hospitals, that is exactly what the future of health care is. That's what disruption is all about, finding a different way to deliver on that mission and anticipate the needs of your customers."

These pillars include:

Hyper consumerization: People don't want to wait for an hour to see a physician. Amazon and Apple have taught the people to seek out zero friction interactions. At end of day, hospitals have to create the experience they expect. Patients and their parents will be empowered with more options.

Disruptive innovation. If children's hospital leaders build in innovation as part of the enterprise's fabric, if they institutionalize and make it thoughtful and real, they can forecast and meet patient and family needs, and even lead in the health care industry.

Connection architecture and enabling technologies. Children's hospitals are actually technology organizations that deliver patient care. If you want to serve patients better now and into the future, you have to enable important technologies. Consider the role of bio-enabled technologies in your patient care strategies.

New economic models. The existing financial model for health care isn't sustainable. It's important to focus on the causes, not just the care. If children's hospitals don't address the causality of disease and health care issues, it's a challenge to have financial resources to intervene early when it becomes imperative. Consider how your hospital can identify real problems before you have to provide expensive care after the disease has progressed.

Hardwiring innovation in children's hospitals is essential; it's the path to ensure relevance and resilience as technology and consumer expectations evolve. Patients and parents have more power in decision making and more options available to help them with those decisions. The focus should shift to optimizing in this time of hyper-consumerization, according to Webb.

"When asking how good you are at innovating, there are several questions children's hospitals should ask themselves: Do we have a formal innovation structure? Do we have a pipeline? Are we encouraging courage and making it part of our enterprise DNA? Embrace this opportunity to destroy the old and start over."

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