Driving innovation in healthcare

RESISTANCE to innovation and change is common to all healthcare reform.

Persistent individual routines, organisational silos and bureaucratic barriers to innovation require specific strategies.

Jennifer Stinson was a nurse at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto who faced ongoing resistance to ideas aimed at improving care for kids with cancer.

To tackle these issues, the CEO of SickKids elevated innovation within the organisation to a strategic direction and engaged a firm to devise a system to spur on the innovation process.

There were three major components to the system:

1. An Innovation blueprint detailed the types of innovation the organisation wanted to encourage. They set about encouraging doctors, nurses and clinicians to look for unmet care needs from the patients up. Key ‘jobs to be done’ were discovered and catalogued.

2. An Innovation pipeline to take ideas from concept to reality was steered by a Central Innovation Group of select leaders from within different areas of the hospital.

3. An Innovation culture placed people sharing a commitment to innovation in key roles. An innovation fund was set up as an enabler with seed money immediately accessible to fast track promising ideas.

Stinson turned the paper diaries used poorly by children to track and manage pain into a digital game called The Pain Squad.

The design team recruited the support of Canada’s most popular police detective shows and their actors to develop visuals for the reward system used in the app.

Compliance rates for pain reporting soared from below 50% to more than 90%. The hospital is now scaling the innovation to make the app a standard part of care.


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