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HIT Innovations Spring from Strategy, Design, and Need

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, February 5, 2013

Innovation doesn't always come from a brand new invention or idea. Usually, it comes from  making improvements to something that already exists.

Now Lyle Berkowitz MD, associate chief medical officer of innovation at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, has co-edited an entire book, Innovation with Information Technologies in Healthcare, that riffs on the topic.

George Halvorson


Subtitled "The Healing Edge," the book contains a surfeit of stories supporting the idea that innovation isn't the sole province of the wizards at Apple or Google. Rather it  can emerge from the good ideas and brainstorms of designers working in close concert with healthcare providers.

I spoke with Berkowitz last year, and he seems to know everybody who's anybody in healthcare IT. As such, he's a natural choice to edit this 311-page compendium, along with Chris McCarthy of Kaiser Permanente's Innovation Learning Network.

An experimental model for solving problems
The first thing I learned was that innovation can be the result of a methodology. The most common one found in the book is PDSA, which stands for Plan-Study-Do-Act, an experimental model for solving problems. You may encounter PDSA in variations such as Lean (for efficiency challenges), Six Sigma (for quality challenges) and Human-Centered Design (for experience challenges).

Kaiser describes this last methodology in Chapter 2, where McCarthy describes Kaiser's Innovation Consultancy as "an internal design firm staffed by creative people who are part design, part strategy, and part healthcare."

Sounds like a fun and important place to work, especially since the Center is inspired by design firms such as Ideo and PointForward.

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