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Essential Practices for Successful Healthcare Innovation


Larry Keeley shared some of his insights, garnered over three decades’ experience guiding successful innovation methods, with the audience at NEHI’s annual meeting.

Innovation consultant Larry Keeley, president and co-founder of Doblin, Inc. and director of Deloitte LLP, provided the keynote presentation,“Finding the Future First: Building Breakthroughs that Transform Health Care,” at the annual Network for Excellence in Health Innovation meeting held earlier this month. The NEHI health policy institute, consists of a network of health care organizations which promote innovative strategies that improve quality of health care and reduce health care costs.

Here’s what you missed!

Treat innovation as an emerging science

Keeley asserted, “For the first time in history, innovation is finally giving up its secrets. It’s becoming a disciplined science instead of an elusive search for creative genius. Firms that learn the new discipline can routinely improve their innovation hit rates by 10 to 20 times over the same firms seeking to improve their ‘brainstorming,’ their ‘stage gates’ or other old and now discredited methods. This is the new frontier of innovation: bolder ideas, easier to implement, and harder to copy.”

Focus on the type of innovation you want to achieve

According to Keeley, there are ten types of innovations that must be used strategically:

1) profit model innovations in the ways money can be made,

2) network innovations in the way businesses can network and connect with other companies to create value and promote their brand,

3) structure innovations where firms organize the structure of their human resources or assets in creative ways,

4) process innovations in the methods or operations utilized for doing the work,

5) product performance innovations which pertain to the distinguishing features and functions of the company’s product,

6) product system innovations in how the firm’s individual products and services bundle together and complement each other,

7) service innovations in the way a firm supports the use, value, and performance of its products,

8) innovations in the channel a company uses to distribute its product to customers and users,

9) brand innovations, which assure customers repeatedly choose the company’s product over that of a competitor’s

10) customer engagement innovations, which are unique interactions a company nurtures in order to develop meaningful relationships with its customers

The most successful innovator integrates a combination of these ten types to move an innovation forward. Methods of evaluating an innovation’s success include measuring the hit rate, year over year growth and the return on investment of the innovation product.

Heed warning signs

A successful entrepreneur can detect a proposed innovation might be in jeopardy when there are internal process issues such as competing definitions in the company for innovation, with no group consensus, no accepted methods or measures for the innovation or lack of clarity on the actual innovation process. Tell-tale warning signs for organizational issues in innovation effectiveness include no incentives for company employees to innovate, innovators must do so in their spare time or the market changing faster than the company can handle.

Sharon Marable, MD, MPH, FACP

Sharon Marable, MD, MPH, FACP

    Sharon Marable, MD, MPH, FACP is a Board Certified Internal Medicine physician who is interested in health care innovations in population health, chronic disease management and clinical quality improvement, particularly for underserved & disparate populations. Marable has also served as a medical and health policy consultant for charitable foundations, legislators and government entities. She is the Vice-Chair of the Massachusetts Medical Society’s Committee on Diversity in Medicine and a member of the Society’s Committee on the Quality of Medical Practice. Marable’s joys outside the field of medicine include pilates, fitness, reading inspirational books and raising her godson.

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