Stories about: hospital innovation

Health care software innovation: Why in-house accelerators are better

People & info-Shutterstock-croppedNaomi Fried, PhD, is Boston Children’s Hospital’s first Chief Innovation Officer and a founder of the hospital’s Innovation Acceleration Program. She tweets @NaomiFried.

Considering that Boston is home to some of the country’s best medical, scientific and technological minds, it is little surprise that the city has a vibrant startup ecosystem. That ecosystem lowers barriers to creating groundbreaking innovations, connecting innovators to funding, mentorship and human capital. Yet, it isn’t very well-suited to help health care software innovators, who face a unique set of challenges.

The unique and increasingly complex IT environment within health care institutions is one of the biggest barriers to the development of novel clinical software solutions. To start with, health care delivery IT environments boast complicated safeguards to keep medical information secure. In addition, as these environments grow in scope and complexity, keeping pace with advances in clinical technology, it becomes harder to incorporate new software.

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Innovation: Keeping the flame alive

(Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr)

I spent my Valentine’s Day with the people I love — the wonderful, creative, hardworking innovators at Children’s Hospital Boston. Excitement, curiosity and, yes, love were in the air as guests came to hear about emerging clinical innovation projects at Children’s first annual Innovation Day.

It was a chance to recognize and celebrate 17 quiet heroes. Innovators often feel isolated, and for some last week, it was the first time they and their ideas had been acknowledged publicly. Some were meeting each other for the first time.

Children’s has a long and rich history of innovation, born of the need to care for our small patients. From Mary Ellen Avery‘s discovery of the lack of lung surfactant in premature babies to Judah Folkman’s path-breaking work on angiogenesis, history shows that innovation, then as now, requires perseverance.

While being an innovator may seem glamorous, and while we idolize celebrity innovators like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, the truth is that innovation is really hard work.

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Innovation on inpatient floors: 21st century white boards

Our old white board (patient names erased for privacy)

Imagine walking into your first day of work, being introduced to a new colleague and hearing, “Here’s the person who’s going to help you solve your problem.” I was a new Project Manager in Patient Care Operations at Children’s Hospital Boston. This brief introduction to Carlos, a Patient Service Associate on 9 South, marked the beginning of a year-long journey.

The problem Carlos laid out is common in hospitals, where multiple information systems, people and tools function in a fractionated, inefficient manner, culminating in a finished product that takes a village to maintain. It’s the problem of keeping the unit’s large, white dry-erase board up to date 24/7.

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