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Celebrating Innovation

January 23, 2012
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What we’ve learned from sponsoring the HCI Innovator Awards program

Every year for decades now, Healthcare Informatics has sponsored its Innovator Awards program; for the first two decades plus, the program focused on rewarding outstanding healthcare IT professionals who were making a difference in their organizations and in the industry, through an awards program focused on individual achievement. Then, beginning in 2009, we shifted our focus towards honoring multidisciplinary teams of healthcare professionals, recognizing that pretty much everything in healthcare these days is being created by collaborative teams of one kind or another.

So what have we learned? In the past four years—in which we’ve reviewed dozens upon dozens of excellent submissions to the program, some common threads have emerged. Among other things, the finalist and semi-finalist teams in our program have tended:

> to emerge from organizations that exhibit cultures of innovation and investigation, cultures in which the desire to try something new is encouraged rather than discouraged, nurtured rather than suppressed

> to have senior leaders at the executive and leadership levels (as well as, usually the board level) actively pushing the culture forward

> to have already identified broad strategic goals for patient safety, care quality, patient satisfaction, financial, and operational performance and metrics

> to have already begun using formal performance improvement methodologies such as Lean, Six Sigma, Toyota Production System, etc., etc., individually or in combination, in order to systematically improve care delivery, operational efficiency, and other issues in their organizations

> to have already built multidisciplinary teams in a variety of project areas

> in the IT area, they tend already to have put in place multidisciplinary teams that include clinicians, clinical informaticists, and IT leaders, when it comes to leveraging clinical IT to improve performance in care delivery; similarly, in financial and operational areas, these organizations tend already to have put in place multidisciplinary teams combining service area leaders with IT professionals, in order to conceive, develop, and execute the implementation and optimization of IT solutions in whatever area is involved

> to be organizations that have actively been measuring everything, incorporating real-time measurement into day-to-day processes, and giving the appropriate front-line individuals—whether clinicians, business office staff, etc., etc.—data and information that they can use in real time in order to modify decision-making, for better performance

> to be organizations with cultures that, while celebrating every victory and advance, never rest on their laurels or backslide on progress

> to be organizations that work exceptionally hard to put patients first

It has been extremely gratifying for all of us on the Healthcare Informatics editorial team to be involved in this process this year, as in past years. In addition, I want to thank our six judges, all of whom were team leaders of finalist/winner teams in the past two years, for their participation in our process. The judges—Jim Levin, M.D., Ph.D., Praveen Chopra, Ray Hess, George Reynolds, M.D., James L. “Larry” Holly, M.D., and Devore Culver—all gave very generously of their time and of their sound judgment, to help us arrive at our final determinations. Thank you, judges!

And, congratulations once again to all the finalist and semi-finalist teams, and to all the submitting teams, for participating in this process. What does innovation in healthcare and healthcare IT look like? This is what it looks like! Congratulations to all program participants, and thank you.

Our next step? To celebrate the winning and participant teams at our HCI Innovator Awards reception at Yellowtail at the Bellagio Hotel, on Tuesday, Feb. 21, in Las Vegas, during HIMSS2012. Just click on this link to join us—we look forward to seeing you there!