made real

Making Innovation Real at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

December 22, 2014
by Allison Ryder

We’ve known for a while that a major challenge in innovation isn’t idea generation, it’s what happens next. At Brigham and Women’s, a nationally renowned hospital in Boston that employs 15,000 people, turning exciting, productive, and impactful ideas into tangible ways to help patients is a similarly relevant challenge.

There’s no shortage of these ideas; 72% of clinicians at the Brigham think of initiatives to improve patient care that they would be interested in pursuing, but get stalled there. They don’t know what the next step is, and finding time and securing funding to build a software solution, medical device, or new patient service may also provide challenges.

Enter the Brigham Innovation Hub, a resource center launched in 2013 with the mission of turning concepts, innovations, and research from the hospital’s clinicians into products and services that affect healthcare outcomes and improve patient experiences.

Executive Director Lesley Solomon visited Continuum’s Boston studio to share a bit of background on the ways the iHub is connecting ideas to outcomes and building relationships in the broader community to encourage innovation. Lesley’s talk addressed the central question: how does an organization move ideas forward and provide those much-needed next steps?

The iHub is tackling bringing innovation to the healthcare space by helping clinicians see tangible ways to move their ideas forward. Sometimes this comes in the form of awarding funding. One strategy they are employing is promoting internal innovation. One project that arose from internal support and funding is SimDoc, a virtual reality training game that offers a more engaging option for doctors to earn continuing education credits, developed by Dr. Raja Abdulnour.

Another is Volaytix, an idea that originated with Dr. Sophia Koo, which uses the same technology leveraged in airports for bomb detection to sense aspergillosis, which is a fungus that many healthy people carry, but can be fatal to patients with weakened immune systems and previously was only detectable through an invasive lung biopsy.

Another way the iHub is helping make ideas real is through making broader industry and community connections through innovation events and series, including Idea Labs, Collaboration Nights, and hackathons. Ranging from 90 minute brainstorming sessions to panel discussion and networking events to weekend-long problem solving work sessions, the iHub is focused on generating new ideas, offering people the opportunity to socialize them with peers, and creating environments to start to make them real.

The iHub looks outside the walls of the Brigham to foster external innovation as well. By building relationships with the local startup community in Boston—sometimes through their innovation-focused networking events—and the Engineering Council, an initiative to connect clinicians and scientists to innovative technology companies often in their backyard, the hospital is finding new ways to further the development of concepts that may become life-saving products and services.

What else is Lesley and her team at the iHub focused on? She noted she often learns about new project ideas from casual, sometimes chance hallway conversations with physicians and staff. While the team is doing significant work to help healthcare providers develop their ideas and turn them into real products, services, and experiences, tackling how to scale and systematize the team’s exposure to the many great ideas always brewing inside the hospital is one wish list item for the future.

Image by Boegh/ CC by 2.0

filed in: made real, innovation capability

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