Without innovation, there is no future
At the Mobile Health Summit, we noticed that a number of mobile solutions created internally were trialed in difficult environments with very little support and resources. These “guerrilla-developed” mobile applications are most often the initiatives of particularly dynamic, forward-thinking physicians who wish to solve a specific problem at hand. Very few of these mobile apps are hospital-wide initiatives that aim to fully empower its employees with innovative approaches to their daily work. It is precisely by promoting this taste for innovation that the Boston Children’s Hospital has made the leap to the forefront of children’s hospitals as ranked by U.S. news
The Head of Innovation at Children’s Hospital Boston, Naomi Fried, presented her hospitals approach at the conference. First, she and her team have developed an initiative they call the “life cycle of innovation”, in which all employees (managers, doctors, nurses, etc.) are encouraged to participate. Under this initiative, everyone is somehow a potential inventor and must be in a constant state of mind to consider and investigate opportunities for improvement. According to Naomi Fried, one of the keys to find creative ideas is to encourage risk-taking. She aims to ensure that employees are not afraid to explore new solutions, even if they are wrong. This is why the hospital has implemented a reward program, the “Fastrack Innovation in Technology (FIT) Award.” Through this program, a panel of experts selects the most promising ideas and then gives employees the resources to realize their project.
It is thanks to this innovation promotion program that several mobile applications designed by employees of the Boston Children’s Hospital have been realized. Among them, three appeared particularly interesting. The first is the application “Beapper,” a tool for internal communication inspired by Twitter (see video
). With this smartphone application, nurses and physicians can communicate effectively and reduce interruption-related errors. Exchanges with colleagues are visible at any time and do not rely solely on the healthcare worker’s memory. This is a good example distributed cognition
in practice. Meanwhile, the application “My Way
“, addresses another real need: it is a geolocation-based tool for finding ones way around the hospital. With this application, any patient with a smartphone can be accurately guided in real time through the huge hospital to his next appointment. A third application, “My Passport” for iPad, acts as a sort of support tool for the patient and his family. This is a perfect illustration of the current trend of patient-centered care (see last week’s post). “My Passport” allows the patient to see the results of various examinations, to monitor the progress of various stages of treatment, consult a bio (with photo) of each staff member assigned to the patient and ask questions at any time nurses. These three applications are only some of the products developed by the Boston Children’s Hospital. According to Naomi Fried, no less than 75 applications have been developed and are used daily in 19 hospital departments.
Obviously the considerable resources of the Boston Children’s Hospital certainly make all this innovation more possible. We believe, however, that it is not the financial means but this culture of innovation, promoted at various levels and departments of the hospital, which makes it a leader in the field of mHealth. At a time when the technology becomes more accessible and health needs grow exponentially, the emphasis on innovation as applied in the Boston Children’s Hospital, appears to both an attractive idea and a necessity.