Why the digital hospital innovation engine is essential to healthcare innovation

Why the digital hospital innovation engine is essential to healthcare innovation

This month, Dan Gordon, an executive consultant in the IBM Global Healthcare Centre of Competence, spoke at the MaRS Future of Medicine lecture series on global trends in digital healthcare. He provides further insight on the “digital hospital” in the following guest blog post.

No matter what specific projects digital hospitals choose to take on, they all have one characteristic in common: they all fundamentally believe that to succeed in this environment of chaotic, complex, continuous change, they must know how to innovate and operationalize new ways of doing things. Fundamental to this healthcare trend is the information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure that enables information sharing among healthcare providers and consumers.

The best-in-class healthcare organizations have well-functioning innovation engines or platforms that allow their people to:

  • experiment and test new ideas;
  • exchange knowledge with internal networks and collectively solve problems;
  • recruit advocates who share their ideas; and
  • institute policies and processes that enable innovations to successfully compete against incumbent technologies.

These organizations have understood that underneath the technological noise created by the hyperbolic growth in mobile devices, social media, big data in the cloud and other technological advances in digital healthcare (as well as the large number of interrelated components that comprise the digital healthcare ecosystem), the only thing they really need to focus on is their ability to offer their patients, members and customers a completely different healthcare value proposition. They have built robust operating infrastructures that allow them to innovate new ways of doing just that.

That is the essence of the digital hospital, an electronic platform that enables ongoing validated learning. Our clients are in a continuous learning cycle, and their routes to success involve iteratively performing experiments that measure and increase the value of innovations. As health IT vendors, consultants and entrepreneurs, we must commit not only to providing products that work, but also to helping our clients with difficult and time-consuming integration challenges.

We must help them to modify their processes, to develop the policies and culture required to embrace modifications, to accept failures before successes and to develop measurements that will help them realize and demonstrate the value of their investments.

For more on this topic, see Dan’s slides from the MaRS Future of Medicine lecture.