Value of Innovation in Healthcare
There is a wide range of literature examining the value and impact of innovation within organisations generally, and more specifically focusing on innovation in healthcare. In the available literature there is a predominant focus on innovation relating to digital health, technology and medicines with a tendency to focus on efficiency and return on investment as measured outcomes1,2. A smaller number of studies look at service and system innovation with outcomes relating to user experience or quality of care. Although numbers of studies in this area are low, recent years have seen an increase in activity, perhaps influenced by design thinking3,4 and an increased focus on public and patient involvement in healthcare policy and design5,6.
Innovation is necessary for organisations wishing to stay agile and responsive in an environment that is increasingly complex, globally networked, technically driven and with an increasingly informed and diverse user population7,8. Whilst evidence of the value of innovation varies and is often subjective to the innovations examined, it has been positively correlated with improvements in patient outcomes, and operational efficiencies such as reduction in lengths of stay, and improvements in patient/user experience 9,10 and operational efficiencies such as reduction in lengths of stay11,12 and improvements in patient/user experience 9,13.
Several studies address the important role of culture in healthcare innovation14,15, however there is a tendency to examine this in relation to the adoption, scale and spread of individual innovations over time rather than systematic approaches that support long-range innovation and distributed innovation practice. Several themes emerge in the literature on important enablers of healthcare innovation6,14,16,17,18 including:
- Leadership alignment on vision and goals
- Visible leadership behaviours to support and promote innovative practice;
- Collective knowledge-sharing and idea generation through formal structures and informal networks;
- Organisational capacity to absorb learning and to hold spaces for creativity, testing and cycles of change implementation;
- Structures, processes and resources to support and embed innovative practice
Although there are a number of evidence-based models to support innovation adoption and diffusion, the literature in general concurs on the fact that no one solution is going to fit all scenarios19,20. Rather, a wide range of factors, some organisational and some related to specific fields of activity need to be taken into account when considering adoption and diffusion of innovation practice. This goes to the heart of innovation practice – the need to listen carefully to the unique needs of users and devise creative solutions to address problems, rather than implementing set external solutions.
1 Kohli. (2017). Digital innovation: A review and synthesis. Info Systems J. 2019;29:200–223.
2 Charlton, V., & Rid, A. (2019). Innovation as a value in healthcare priority-setting: the UK experience. Social Justice Research, 32(2), 208-238.
3 Roberts, J. P., Fisher, T. R., Trowbridge, M. J., & Bent, C. (2016). A design thinking framework for healthcare management and innovation. Healthcare 4, (1) 11-14.
4 Brown, T., & Wyatt, J. (2010). Design thinking for social innovation. Development Outreach, 12(1), 29-43.
5 Elaine McNichol (2012) Patient-led innovation in healthcare: The value of the ‘user’ perspective, International Journal of Healthcare Management, 5:4, 216-222
6 Weintraub, P., & McKee, M. (2019). Leadership for innovation in healthcare: an exploration. International journal of health policy and management, 8(3), 138.
7 Christensen, C. M., Grossman, J. H., & Hwang, J. (2009). The innovator’s prescription: A disruptive solution for health care. Chicago, xv-xviii
8 Rua, O. L., & Correia, M. J. (2015). Innovation in healthcare organizations: Empirical evidence from Portugal. In Handbook of research on internationalization of entrepreneurial innovation in the global economy (pp. 134-157). IGI Global.
9 Nolte E. How do we ensure that innovation in health service delivery and organization is implemented, sustained and spread? Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe; 2018. (https://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/380731/pb- tallinn-03-eng.pdf, accessed 24 January 2022)
10 Virchow, J. C., Akdis, C. A., Darba, J., Dekhuijzen, R., Hartl, S., Kobelt, G., … & Torvinen, S. (2015). A review of the value of innovation in inhalers for COPD and asthma. Journal of market access & health policy, 3(1), 28760.
11 Noetscher CM, Morreale GF. Length of stay reduction: two innovative hospital approaches. J Nurs Care Qual. 2001 Oct;16(1):1-14
12 Campbell, Bruce. (2012). How to judge the value of innovation. BMJ (Clinical research ed.). 344.
13 Bessant, J., & Maher, L. (2009). Developing radical service innovations in healthcare—the role of design methods. International Journal of Innovation Management, 13(04), 555-568.
14 Kash, Bita & Spaulding, Aaron & Gamm, Larry & Johnson, Christopher. (2014). Leadership, culture, and organizational technologies as absorptive capacity for innovation and transformation in the healthcare sector: A framework for research. Change Management. 13. 1-13.
15 Weintraub, P., & McKee, M. (2019). Leadership for innovation in healthcare: an exploration. International journal of health policy and management, 8(3), 138.
16 Birken, S. A., Lee, S. Y. D., & Weiner, B. J. (2012). Uncovering middle managers’ role in healthcare innovation implementation. Implementation Science, 7(1), 1-12.
17 Leavy, B. (2005). A leader’s guide to creating an innovation culture. Strategy & Leadership.
18 Chaves, B. G., Briand, C., & Bouabida, K. (2021). Innovation in Healthcare Organizations: Concepts and Challenges to Consider. International Journal of Health Research and Innovation, 9(1), 1-14.
19Rogers, E.M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.). New York: Free Press
20 Greenhalgh, T., Robert, G., Macfarlane, F., Bate, P., Kyriakidou, O., & Peacock, R. (2005). Storylines of research in diffusion of innovation: a meta-narrative approach to systematic review. Social science & medicine, 61(2), 417-430.