Any hospital chief worthy of his or her patients wants to be first on the block with the latest and greatest tools and technology. They buy the newest MRI machines, the highest-slicing CT scanners, and build the coziest of chemotherapy wings rivaling B&Bs for amenities.
But great hospital chiefs are always on a furtive lookout for the next best thing that promises to improve quality and save costs. Based on the volume of press releases received in recent weeks, I think I know what that new thing is: The Healthcare System Innovation Center.
"Over the past few months we've noticed a huge uptick in 'innovation centers' popping up around the country," Lindsay Martin, senior research associate for the Institute for Healthcare Improvement said in an interview with HealthLeaders. "It's definitely the new buzzword, and I don't think that's necessarily bad. It highlights a real need for innovation and people are excited about making some changes."
Dozens of healthcare systems already have created, or plan to spend millions of dollars to set up their very own centers, even building or buying new facilities or expanding centers they already have. Some are also filling a new C-suite position: a chief innovation officer, the person in charge of all things cutting edge. Why is this happening now?
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It's starting to be okay for hospital leaders to say they can do better. It's becoming acceptable – even honorable – for healthcare leaders to acknowledge that their payment models or care transitions or even safety guidelines are imperfect and outdated, "but our team is smart enough and motivated enough to develop solutions."