Blog Post

Are we ready for the future? Panel predicts the 'radical hospital'

January 10, 2014

    Paige Bashuck, Daily Briefing

    More than ever, U.S. hospitals are being reminded that they must "innovate or die." This year is another reminder of that, as a host of ACA provisions, Medicare penalty programs, and ICD-10 regulations take effect. But faced with dwindling budgets and a rapidly expanding field of new health technology, how do hospitals innovate correctly?  

    From the Daily Briefing blog: What hospitals should expect in 2014

    Several health and technology experts tried to answer that question during a panel Thursday at the 2014 International CES conference in Las Vegas.

    Are we innovating enough? Hospital exec says no

    "About 90% of hospitals are not innovative, but they are followers," said Orlando Portale, Chief Innovation Officer at Calif.-based Palomar Health. Hospitals have a "history of failing late and large—like when a $300 million [electronic health records] project gets cancelled—but they don't understand the principle of failing early and small instead."

    Portale added that Palomar pushes to innovate by proactively meeting with start-up companies and making early investments—so when pilots fail, the system can be part of the team making the changes. For example, he explained that his team is currently working on an application for Google Glass that allows clinicians to diagnose patients quickly by telling the glasses the patients' symptoms. Palomar also is developing a Quick Response-coded (QR code) EHR system through which the glasses could pull up a patient's history and his real-time vital signs with one QR code. 

    Portale acknowledged that many hospitals are not able to invest in an innovation officer. But he argues that many organizations still fail when it comes to innovation, because health leaders do not know who to turn to when they want to explore a breakthrough concept.

    Hospitals are "really struggling with 'I've got a cool new thing and I'm looking to see if this will translate into the practice of medicine' when it is just a concept," Portale said, adding that health care executives need "handholding" with innovation.

    Why older innovators might come up with better ideas

    Moreover, leaders are often deterred by costs associated with innovation and adoption of new technology, according to Jason Mendenhall, executive vice president of the health care cloud technology group Switch. (The company houses hospital data in a military-secure cloud-based facility.)

    "Many hospitals are operating under an old paradigm that linked high costs to technology enablement, but that isn't the case anymore," Mendenhall said. "You don't have to build your own model, you can share resources…the new models allow hospitals to deliver at a much lower cost."

    Stephen Pierce, head of medical devices at IBM, added that "value is a critical issue in any adoption…our goal is to be able to move the patients out quickly to their homes—improving their quality of life—and give hospitals the devices to keep streaming patient data back to the nurses and doctors."

    IBM is developing its "Smarter Care" system using their supercomputer Watson's data-gathering technology. The system will allow hospitals to be "engaged with the patient decades before they walk in the hospital doors to be treated," Pierce said.

    Cleveland Clinic helps bring Watson into patient rooms

    "In the future, we estimate people will have 10 connected wearable devices," Pierce said. He added that IBM is developing an avenue through which clinicians are not only using data generated by those devices, but using the "relevant data, not all of it."

    In the future "radical hospital," Pierce said, "doctors won't be rushing from bed to bed, but will be able to say 'I think this patient will have an adverse event this morning,' and treat them ahead of that event."

    Want to boost your innovation? Tap insights from the Marketing and Planning Leadership Council

    Read the Council’s briefing, Developing High Impact Innovation Centers, for profiles of progressive organizations that have overcome key strategic blocks in creating and sustaining formal innovation centers. And listen to our archived webconference to learn how to develop an internal team to launch new products and bring them to market.

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