Innovation has long been both a driver of growth and a coveted badge of honor across all industries and for a few decades also in healthcare. In the early 2000s, the Mayo Clinic established its first internal innovation program, and many other academic medical centers and also larger health systems followed suit over the years.

Yet what I learned in my 9 years at a different Mayo team devoted to innovation, the Mayo Clinic Division of Engineering, is that innovation only matters if people actually use it. Innovation for innovation’s sake may be exciting, flashy, and attention grabbing, but in the Division of Engineering we developed and implemented actual solutions to problems.

With the broad acceptance of the smartphone after the introduction of the iPhone, the digital health market exploded and became a darling of the venture capital industry. From 2011 through 2022, over 100 Billion dollars were invested in digital health innovation, leading to what I call the digital health innovation avalanche.

Even though the “game” of venture capitalism is to invest in many companies and hope that few will make it big, even if just 20% of those investments yielded a great, valuable, useful, health changing solution, then we are looking at $20 Billion worth of digital health innovation, waiting to be leveraged. Whether it’s the “big data” push from a few years back, or the artificial intelligence infatuation of recent, or the metaverse and NFTs — the problem in healthcare is not the lack of innovation, it’s the lack of innovation adoption.

But if an innovation is not being used, is it still valuable? Is it still useful? Is it even still innovation?

The challenge in healthcare is that it changes its ways extremely slowly, much slower than virtually any other industry. And for good reasons: the consequences of the wrong change can result in loss of life or a severe loss of quality of life. This is not about accidentally delivering the wrong merchandise, getting a booking wrong, or losing money. Healthcare is about the life and quality of life of people.

So how do we get out of this conundrum?

A Guide to Accelerating Innovation Adoption

On the one hand, we are sitting on a pile of amazing innovations for diagnosis and treatment of disease. And on the other hand we are looking at an industry that accepts novel treatment methods on average after 17 years — basically a generational change.

The gold standard of verification and validation in healthcare — the controlled clinical trial — typically takes years to complete and even when successful, the innovation takes decades to find its way into the hands of all clinicians. Embracing change and innovation is not something clinicians learn in medical school or residency. It’s the status quo, the tried and true that is cherished and valued.

But not all innovations require the same level of scrutiny as new drugs or new surgical procedures. Many innovations are exploratory stepping stones with non-fatal or relatively inconsequential consequences in a case of failure.

So for healthcare leaders ready to conquer one of the most important challenges of our time, here is a systematic, proven way to accelerate the adoption of digital health innovation: By creating a culture that

  1. identifies suitable innovations that solve existing problems in weeks, not months
  2. designs systems-oriented, workflow-centric solution around the innovation in months, not quarters
  3. refines the solutions systematically through the validation of assumptions
  4. deploys innovation system wide in months, not years

In the whitepaper linked below, six articles cover the roadmap to accelerating the adoption of digital health innovation:

  1. Accelerating Innovation Adoption, which provides an overview of the systematic approach.
  2. The Innovation Prioritization Funnel, which describes the process of systematically identifying innovations to solve real-world problems.
  3. From Idea to Validation, which describes the various steps to undertake to wrap a system and workflows around the innovation, so that it actually becomes usable and implementable.
  4. Implementation Digital Health Solutions, which sets the stage for a success, by approaching implementation from a change management perspective.
  5. Successful Innovation Implementation, which further specifies the ancillary project management, training, performance management, and leadership activities.
  6. Clinician Engagement for Digital Health Adoption, which provides pragmatic guidance on how to get the clinicians engaged and on board.

Given the fast pace of digital health innovation, a fast pace of innovation adoption should follow, and this requires a new mindset, a new approach, as outlined in the white paper.

To download the white paper with the six articles, click on the cover above or use this link. Happy reading and applying!

Let me know, if you’d like to talk through how to change the innovation adoption culture of your organization.

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Christian Milaster and his team optimize Telehealth Services for health systems and physician practices. Christian is the Founder and President of Ingenium Digital Health Advisors where he and his expert consortium partner with healthcare leaders to enable the delivery of extraordinary care.

Contact Christian by phone or text at 657-464-3648, via email, or video chat.