Naomi Fried, PhD, Boston Children’s Hospital’s former Chief Innovation Officer, recently announced her decision to step down from the position, joining Biogen Idec as their Vice President of Medical Information, Innovation and External Partnerships.
Fried worked as Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) at Boston Children’s for 4.5 years, breaking new ground as the first CIO of any pediatric hospital in the world. While there, she built the Innovation Acceleration program, aimed at improving healthcare through innovation, enhancing an innovation culture and supporting innovation opportunities.
“Five years ago my role was unheard of,” Fried says. “Now it’s still uncommon but people are starting to recognize that innovation is our path forward. We have a lot of pressures in the industry that can be addressed through innovation.”
Fried worked heavily on a few specific projects during her time at Boston Children’s. First, she developed and launched a telehealth program for the hospital. Telehealth is a mechanism for delivering care to patients and connecting healthcare professionals virtually through technology. The system represents an emerging field of healthcare delivery in which patients can speak to doctors without coming into the clinic for an office visit and physicians can consult specialists on a variety of cases, Fried says.
Fried also developed the FastTrack Innovation in Technology (FIT) award. The award offers employees at Boston Children’s the opportunity to submit an idea to make the hospital experience better and more efficient through technology, often in the form of mobile apps. During her time, Fried supported the introduction of nine mobile apps to enhance the hospital workflow.
While Fried enjoyed the work she was doing at Boston Children’s, she says she was intrigued by the opportunities that Biogen Idec – a biotech company dedicated to developing new therapies to improve the lives of patients with neurological, autoimmune and hematological disorders – will offer. This career move will give her chance to learn about a new industry and work within a new scope outside the hospital setting, and she says that she is excited to work for an international company supporting patients around the world.
Fried’s role at Biogen Idec is brand new for the company and she has spent her first few weeks learning about the organization and connecting with people. Her new role will focus on three main groups, she says. First, she will work with those responsible for outfacing medical information that answers questions from healthcare professionals about drugs and their impact on patients. Second, she will develop innovation capabilities to create synergies with research and development, encouraging innovation across the company. And third, she will focus on supporting new ways of connecting patients and clinicians to move beyond just molecules when thinking about the products Biogen Idec delivers to market.
After spending over 15 years in the healthcare sector, Fried has specific advice for innovators and women working in medicine and technology. She encourages women who want to innovate in healthcare to pursue that dream, and she advises many of her innovators to embrace risk, moving out of their comfort zones to try new things. There are many opportunities for healthcare improvement, she says, especially in digital health. Fried believes digital health will change the way care is delivered by improving efficiency and the overall patient experience because information will flow more quickly and freely.
“Innovation is about taking risks and trying new things,” Fried says. “The way that we bring innovation out to the market is by accepting challenges.”
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