Launching an Innovation Revolution: Getting It Done Chapter 5

Memorial Hospital and Health System, South Bend, IN began to build a robust innovation competency in 2002. By borrowing from the experiences of over 40 of America’s most innovative companies and working closely with leading Innovation experts, Memorial Hospital has begun the journey of ensuring that Innovation Everywhere by everyone is a shift in culture that benefits the entire community.

Chapter 5: Innovation

Case Presentation: Improving Safety

When Memorial launched a critical new safety initiative in 2007, one of the first areas of focus was medication preparation. On average, a nurse would be interrupted at least eight times while preparing patient medications. After seeing a presentation at a Memorial leadership event regarding safety in healthcare, a medical unit nursing team translated what they had heard into a Safety project using the Tom Peters Group Wow! Project Methodology. What emerged as a solution was a room called a “Red Zone,” named for its painted red stripe around the room, where medications can be prepared without nurses being interrupted or distracted.

The team also secured funding in accordance with Memorial’s Research & Development Policy to relocate an automated medication dispenser (AccuDose) and the necessary wiring along with other supplies into the Red Zone. Within two-months, the Red Zone Wow! Project provided a near distraction-free environment for medication preparation. Interruptions decreased to one time or less in each measured time period, and helped impact one of the leading causes of medication errors, which, according to the Joint Commission, accounts for over 9% of sentinel events reported between January 1995 and June 2007.

Case Presentation: Improving the Patient’s Retail Experience

When the Memorial Home Care durable medical equipment store had outgrown its space, staff members used impact innovation tools to reframe the shopping environment.

The end result was a new model for home medical equipment supplies where products were not organized by diagnosis… Instead, the store is organized by paths patients may be on. The store sections include Heal Well, Move Well, Breathe Well, and Sleep Well.

A new retail slogan complementing the store changes, “Expert care to help you rest, heal, and live well,” connected staff credentials to the overall mission of the facility. The store was designed to include unexpected products that can make a bad day better, such as candy, gifts, and unique artwork to brighten someone’s day, natural light, and color photos of real patients with inspirational quotes above the product displays.

A small garden rest spot in the center of the store was designed to differentiate the experience and exceed the imagination, not just the expectation. The Memorial Home Care Gallery is a unique national model on how to humanize and beautify the medical equipment experience. First year sales resulted in a 27% increase in revenues. The increased revenues and customer satisfaction reflect that the time and attention to such details was not only the right thing to do for patients and families, but also the right thing for achieving business goals.

Initial Steps

Three steps that people who work at Memorial Health System took to support a culture of innovation include:

1) Invite a few hospital leaders, physicians, and Board members to discuss whether the organization should establish a formal commitment to innovation and, if so, determine an initial threshold of financial and time resources

2) Target a portion of annual net revenue to support Research & Development (R&D)

3)Provide innovation training to all employees, including selling one’s idea to others, rapid prototyping, implementation, and celebrating success and moving on

As always, I welcome your input to improve healthcare collaboration and get it done.

Kenneth H. Cohn

© 2011, all rights reserved

Disclosure: I have not received any compensation for writing this content.

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