The COVID-19 pandemic was a massive disruptor to the world in myriad ways, but the largest was in the global healthcare system. The rapid shift to virtual care became necessary almost overnight as a response. This pivot prompted many fast technological advances in digital tools for providers, portals for patients, and payment reforms.
In the last decade, increasing numbers of hospitals and health systems have already begun to set up innovation centers that focus attention and talent on creating new products and services that facilitate value-based care. They aimed to improve patient outcomes while reducing time and costs.
When the ideas and goals of these centers were still forming, the pandemic hit and lit up the urgent need for reform and redesign of healthcare services as we know them. Initially, innovation and improvement were nebulous ideas, but the pandemic response turned them from a marketing idea into a core requirement. The fiscal pressure and rapid embracing of needed technology in the post-pandemic era put this idea on the fast track for many health organizations. Almost overnight. Action needed to happen, and the staff was busy. How would they find talent and tech to solve these problems of creation and adaptation?
Even before the pandemic, health systems faced cost challenges associated with an aging population and the emergence of increasingly complex and expensive chronic diseases. It was already an environment that was ripe for disruption. One way to adapt to rapidly changing conditions is to meet these constant medical, social, and financial demands by developing an Innovation Center.
Within the last ten years, a growing number of health systems have set up innovation centers, with at least 110 in the United States.
With the looming need for payment reform, revenue streams, changing patient needs, and keeping atop competitors, health system leaders are looking to create innovation centers where talent, research, and technology can meet in a collaborative environment to offer more affordable patient care in a more friendly environment for providers and practitioners that are low on resources.
Innovation centers have an advantage in trudging through the fundamental status quo challenges in health systems because they possess a gathering of talents, skill sets, and incentives that combine with ideas they can translate on a balance sheet. They can provide a starting point for the coming changes in healthcare by introducing ways to identify and implement novel solutions to the existing pain points like agile development, user-centered digital tool development, and scalable health services that provide continuity of care on the patent end, access to information on the provider side, and value-based incentives for the system itself by reporting to leaders in clinical quality, information technology, research and development and more with the hope of revenue generation. Innovation centers can address new services and resources, cost and revenue sources, partners, delivery networks, and all sorts of conduits that contribute to the system's health.
Traditionally, health systems don't employ staff who would lead in the execution of innovative ideas. They don't have the time and resources when they're struggling to recruit and retain staff. Partnering with external groups to build systems often ends in frustration, sales pitches, and having to answer for a spend. Innovation centers bridge that gap by engaging current staff and students with incentives like contests and grants. They use crowdsourcing to gain insight into potential ideas first. Innovation centers often create new leadership positions, such as a chief innovation officer who can interface with developers, entrepreneurs, or financiers and then bring the packaged ideas back to the big office with all the considerations and strategies mapped out.
Some centers have prototyping facilities, offsite test environments, and software development partners to help build new systems infrastructure that connects data from health systems to researchers, providers, and patients. They collaborate with external partners to acquire the skills needed to achieve their goals. This approach benefits everyone.
Innovation is an idea, not a result. While the goals and utility of innovation centers are still developing, healthcare systems are discovering them as a conduit to reaching potential despite the challenges in the industry. The need for change is real, and to meet the growing fiscal, medical and technological demands that are emerging, health systems are looking to innovation centers to bring novel solutions to the table that meet regulatory compliance but function holistically instead of band-aid solutions stuck atop aging data architecture.
As health systems adapt, the future is secure, adaptable, interoperable data integration, and innovation centers partnered with companies like AcquisBI that can get this new system off the ground are paving the way to a better future in health care for providers and their patients.