Today, owing to advances in information technology, the healthcare sector has experienced an explosion of innovations aimed at not only improving life expectancy and quality of life of patients, but also diagnostic and treatment options, disease control, as well as the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the healthcare delivery system (Omachonu & Einspruch, 2010).
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However, opinion about the rate of innovation in the healthcare industry seems divided, with some researchers suggesting that innovation is woefully lacking (DeWolf, 2010), while others acknowledge that inefficiency still exists in the healthcare system due to lack of innovative ways in dealing with health issues (Thakur, Hsu & Fontenot et al., 2012).
The present paper aims to describe an innovative way of ground source heating and cooling that could be used in health facilities to control internal temperatures, hence providing in-patients with a favorable environment for total healing and comfort.
DeWolf (2010) defines innovation “as creating value through viable business concepts” (p. 3). Omachonu et al (2010) define innovation as “the intentional introduction and application within a role, group, or organization, of ideas, processes, products or procedures, new to the relevant unit of adoption, designed to significantly benefit the individual, the group or the wider society” (p. 3).
In this regard, the proposed ground source heating and cooling system will definitely create value and benefits to patients admitted in healthcare institutions.
The solar-powered system will provide heat during the winter and cooling during the summer, with a view to maintaining constant temperature which is favorable for optimal patient healing and comfort.
Each piece of the heating and cooling equipment will have its unique monitoring and control system, which will be designed to be self-controlling and adjusting, not only to provide flexibility but also efficiencies in operation. It is imperative to mention that the proposed innovation is a product innovation as it will introduce a new type of good for the external market (Omachonu et al., 2010).
Available literature demonstrates that “product innovations are essential to the life of any organization since they provide the most obvious means for generating revenues” (Omachonu et al., 2010 p. 2). The ground source heating and cooling equipment will come with innumerable benefits owing to the fact that it will be developed around market-oriented and customer-focused strategies. Thakur et al (2012) are of the opinion that market needs as well as customer demands and expectations drive the innovation agenda forward.
This equipment, for instance, will benefit in-patients with various respiratory diseases as it will be able to maintain constant room temperature, hence shielding them from vagrancies of weather. It is common knowledge that respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, bronchitis and asthma worsen during the winter. The quality of life of in-patients will also be enhanced as the equipment offers comfort by controlling extreme temperatures.
Patients will also benefit in reduced hospitalization costs and lesser patient trauma due to the equipment’s capacity to prevent disease progression and relapses. Again, it is worth mentioning that sharp discrepancies in room temperature may worsen various cardio-pulmonary diseases such as pneumonia and heart disease. Additionally, healthcare institutions will benefit from energy savings as the equipment is powered by solar energy.
The proposed innovation is transformational and will definitely improve patient outcomes while decreasing healthcare spending.
DeWolf (2010) acknowledges that what is needed today “are transformational innovations that involve significant change and provide differentiation and/or disruptive innovations that can reshape the competitive landscape and, thus, have a profound impact on economics and customer preferences” (p. 3). When the equipment stabilizes room temperature, in-patients with various cardio-pulmonary complications will not be exposed to cold, and hence will not suffer from disease relapses or deteriorations.
Healthcare spending will therefore decrease in terms of reduced hospital stay, reduced spending on medications, and reduced overhead costs in energy savings. The innovation will also be transformational as it will disorder old heating and cooling systems, create new players and new markets in terms of patients who value comfort, and deliver dramatic value to the management of health institutions which will adapt to the innovation in terms of increased revenues (Omachonu et al., 2010).
The proposed innovation, in my view, will become a trend as we progress into the future. Thakur at al (2010) acknowledge that “innovation is driven by strategic implementation and/or assimilation of information technology (IT) and/or information systems (IS)” (p. 563).
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In the same measure, it can be argued that the innovation, which is the ground source heating and cooling system, will be driven by the strategic implementation and adoption in health institutions as well as the accruing business and economic benefits. More explicitly, the proposed innovation will become a trend in the future as it is effective and easy to use, not mentioning that it is useful in contemporary times.
The technology acceptance model (TAM) demonstrates that people plan or intend to adopt new technologies and innovations if they perceive that these technologies and innovations are useful and can be used with ease (Thakur et al., 2010). The ground source heating and cooling system meets the threshold of perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness, hence it is expected that the innovation will become a trend that will be adopted by many other health institutions into the future.
DeWolf, L. (2009). Understanding innovation in healthcare. Journal for Healthcare Quality: Official Publication of the National Association for Healthcare Quality, 31(1), 3-4.
Omachonu, V.K., & Einspruch, N.G. (2010). Innovation in healthcare systems: A conceptual framework. The Innovation Journal: The Public Sector Innovation Journal, 15(1), 1-20.
Thakur, R., Hsu, S.H.Y., & Fontenot, G. (2012). Innovation in Healthcare: Issues and Future Trends. Journal of Business Research, 65(4), 562-569.