How do you define innovation? Part VIII

by Justine Varieur on September 25, 2013

innovation-box-cropped-purchased-no-creditOver the past few months, the Vector team has been collecting definitions from varied thought leaders—inside and outside Boston Children’s—and the responses have reflected the varied nature of their respective fields. In this series, the term has been called “clichéd” at one extreme to “necessary” for the evolution of care delivery at the other. This week’s respondents range from former FDA leaders to informatics experts to critical care specialists to bioengineers. Follow our continuing coverage of innovative efforts through this week’s National Pediatric Innovation Summit + Awards.

Innovation is the belief that we have an obligation to move the world forward through positive and lasting change, leaving it better than we found it. —Jeffrey P. Burns, MD, MPH, Chief of Critical Care Medicine; Director, Medical/Surgical Intensive Care Unit, Boston Children’s Hospital

Innovation is the process of significantly and meaningfully changing the way things are done, operate or perform. Most people think of innovation in terms of the individual developing a novel idea and inspiring or causing change. I think what is often overlooked is the power of a large organization to provide meaningful innovation on a broad scale—it’s not just the single individual that can innovate. Great examples of this are the Apollo mission to the moon, Google, the Internet, the Boeing 747 or, in health care, the development of advanced medical devices. The key to innovation, either as an individual or as a large organization, is to provide transformative change. —Robert “Chip” Hance, CEO of Creganna-Tactx Medical; former Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the FDA

Innovation is ingenuity leveraging technology to push child health from where it is to where it ought to be. Innovation in the 21st century aligns priorities of the present with the needs of the future, digs to the root of disease, implements existing tools to attack those roots, discovers new tools and details how these tools deserve scarce resources. Innovation in the pursuit of health flattens hierarchies by turning content-expert mentors and tech-savvy mentees into partners and by turning providers and patients into collaborators. The emerging amalgamation of biology, chemistry, physics and technology offers unprecedented opportunities to cure, manage and best of all, prevent disease before it can start. —Justin Zachariah, MD, MPH, Assistant in Cardiology, Boston Children’s Hospital

Innovation is change outside the margins of what is expected. Real innovation demands a use of transformation, new ideas and follow-through amidst problematic impediments. Successful innovation marries fresh ideas, risk, hope and design to solve an existing problem. Impediments of all kinds stifle innovation, and life-changing, upside-down thinking along with a lot of guts allows us to reform tired and broken ways of living and curing and allows us to move things forward… that’s innovation. —Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, pediatrician, Seattle Children’s Hospital, The Everett Clinic; physician blogger of Seattle Mama Doc™

Improving what is, not by pursuing what is possible, but what might be… —Peter H. Weinstock, MD, PhD, Director, Boston Children’s Hospital Simulator Program; Anesthesia Chair in Pediatric Simulation, Boston Children’s Hospital

Innovation is a realizable out-of-the-box idea, which cannot be derived by extrapolation from existing knowledge or thoughts. Innovation defines a new direction, not just an incremental advancement, to reach an ultimate goal. —Chih-Ming Ho, PhD, Ben Rich-Lockheed Martin Professor, University of California Los Angeles; Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, Bioengineering Department, UCLA

Innovation is about creating something new. I’m most interested in creating new approaches at times of chaotic change—when the system is ready for something different. And I’m most interested in innovations that disrupt entrenched and outdated or dysfunctional processes, structures and practices. —Kenneth D. Mandl, MD, MPH, Director, Intelligent Health Laboratory, Boston Children’s Hospital; Informatics Program at Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology

Innovation is taking seemingly unrelated observations or phenomena and linking them together to create a new solution to a problem. Innovation is making an observation and applying it to what seems to be an unrelated problem. —Sitaram Emani, MD, Assistant in Cardiac Surgery, Boston Children’s Hospital

Innovation is the exploration, creation or implementation of novel concepts or approaches to known problems or challenges. In healthcare, innovation is necessary to evolve our ability to more accurately diagnose conditions, to improve therapeutic options and outcomes and to assess and optimize the overall care process. —Melvin C. Almodovar, MD, Medical Director, Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, Boston Children’s Hospital

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