In medical context, innovation refers to the development of new services, technologies, and ways of working within the healthcare settings (Edwards & Grinspun, 2011). Over the last century, the expansion of service sectors has been attributed to the increase in the adoption of innovations and technologies. From the early 1980s, the adoption of innovation in hospitals has resulted in numerous healthcare benefits.
In most hospitals, innovation in healthcare has reduced costs, enhanced development of new ideas, and provided employees with outstanding career advancement opportunities through continuous training. Equally, through the adoption of innovative technologies most hospitals can now collect and evaluate accurate data (Edwards & Grinspun, 2011).
In general, innovation in healthcare service delivery is essential in improving the value of care services and reducing the ever-increasing cost of treatments. Despite its effectiveness, health organizations experience numerous challenges in adopting and diffusing innovations into their healthcare systems. This paper focuses on trends of innovations, nature, and challenges of innovations in healthcare delivery services.
Innovative ideas in healthcare delivery service are achieved through the efforts of creative individuals. Healthcare systems are complicated and integrated necessitating skilled personnel (Edwards & Grinspun, 2011).
This implies that the minds of individuals working in the healthcare service have to adapt to the complex systems. Psychologists suggest that most healthcare experts have higher chances to be innovative due to continuous rearrangement of their thoughts to meet the new developments.
Benefits of innovations in healthcare systems
One needs to evaluate how the adoptions of innovations have affected the delivery of services across our healthcare institutions to understand the benefits of innovation in healthcare (Griffith, 1999). As such, innovations have changed the way treatments and healthcare delivery services are administered in our hospitals.
For instance, with the invention of stents the treatment of clogged heart arteries has improved significantly. Unlike in the past when treatment relied on surgery, treatment of clogged heart arteries can now be administered using invasive radiology procedures (Bali, 2006).
Similarly, innovations in health information technology have improved on the efficiency, storage, cost, and transmission of medical data (Griffith, 1999). Because of these, activities relying on health information technologies have been greatly enhanced. In addition, improvements in the health information technologies have enhanced healthcare management.
For this reason, hospitals have been able to provide better care services through the adoption of better health care practices. These benefits are evidenced from the gains realized through the adoption of telemedicine. With the adoption of telemedicine, physicians can work as a team. By being connected together via a common network and technology, physicians’ roles have been demarcated leading to better provision of care services.
Several stakeholders are experimenting with innovative methods to improve on the value, cost, and effectiveness of health care services. Among these stakeholders are hospitals, physicians, insurers, and government research institutions.
With these initiatives, new delivery systems will be developed. Through these, health care service providers will be encouraged to manage patient care. Similarly, rigorous tests are ongoing to determine how caregivers can lessen undesirable events and errors.
The US health care system can significantly reduce on the cost of medical care far faster than the current efforts put in place to control the medical practice through innovation (Boslaugh & McNutt, 2008). In health care service, unlike other industries, innovation has received little attention. More often, innovation in health care has been viewed with suspicion, and in some extreme cases restricted by the providers.
Notably, in healthcare the adoption and use of new technologies without appropriate evidence to support on the technologies is viewed as a problem rather than a solution (Faltin, 2012). Similarly, as compared to other sectors, innovation in medicine is not fully supported.
In the US, it is estimated that investments in healthcare innovations, over the last two decades, in the areas of heart attack and stroke have returned $2.40 to $3.00 for every dollar invested (Faltin, 2012). As compared to other sectors, the returns in medicine are significantly lower.
In other sectors, advances in technologies have reduced production costs and improved on the quality of service and goods. On the contrary, advances in healthcare technologies have always been viewed as driving up costs because medical advances increase capabilities.
Nature of innovation
Innovations in healthcare services take many forms including advances in technology and equipment. However, the greatest opportunities lie in the new types of strategies, organizational structures, facilities and processes and partnerships. Some innovations are easy to adopt due to their ability to yield better quality and lower cost right from the start.
For instance, new antibiotics can greatly reduce nursing costs allowing patients to be discharged from the hospital quickly. Similarly, new invasive surgeries have significantly reduced costs and recovery time.
On the contrary, other innovations in healthcare service delivery have increased costs while increasing on the quality of service provided. For instance, physicians assert that thrombolytic drugs administered after an attack increases drug costs but lower the rate of hospitalization.
Spurring Innovation in healthcare service delivery
Stakeholders should develop a culture of innovation, focus on the culture, provide high quality data, provide incentives, and let physicians guide innovation to enhance the use of innovation in the hospitals (Boslaugh & McNutt, 2008). Hospitals must advocate for innovation starting from their top positions.
To achieve this, hospital leaders must adopt appropriate and effective structures to encourage innovation among their staff members. Similarly, hospitals should recruit additional clinical leaders to achieve this objective. These leaders should be provided with suitable training, for them to manage their fellow physicians and ensure that suitable leadership styles are implemented (Nicholson, 1999).
According to medical experts, healthcare service leaders should be paired as much as possible. For instance, an administrative leader could be paired to work with a physician leader.
Through this, dual leadership model will be realized to supervise longitudinal service lines. In the same way, hospitals can appoint chief innovation officers to supervise clinical and non-clinical tasks. By doing so, a hospital will in a position to prompt and integrate innovation.
Although hospitals can spur innovation through innovative leadership, they should also ensure that they develop a favorable environment for innovation to thrive (Nicholson, 1999). It is a fact that most people resist change, so every organization should strive to create an environment that promotes change.
Contrary to the past healthcare service cultures where doctors and other physician were allowed to work under minimum supervision, the developed environment should allow physicians to uphold the culture of transparency. Even though most hospitals have reported that it is challenging to achieve a culture of transparency, healthcare stakeholders should always advocate for transparent workforces.
According to Dr. Fickenscher, hospitals should resort to the use of financial incentives to encourage their physicians to offer value care and services (Mlitwa, 2011). If the use of financial incentives is appropriately applied, within the healthcare service delivery will eventually be triggered leading to reduction in costs and improvements in the quality of services.
Therefore, physician leaders are urged to use incentives to alter the organizational environment. According to medical experts, innovations are triggered through rewards. Psychologists assert that through incentives people can be encouraged to think, hence come up with solutions to complex challenges in their daily tasks (Mlitwa, 2011).
In this essence, hospitals and other medical stakeholders should come up with appropriate compensation methods. For instance, innovative physicians can be rewarded through bonuses and job promotions.
Another approach hospitals use to spur innovation is through the provision of high quality data (Melnyk & Overholt, 2005). After changing the personnel structure, the hospital should supply their personnel with appropriate information on how to change and on the need for change. Failure to provide this information may jeopardize the hospital initiative of stimulating and integrating innovation.
To achieve this target, hospitals must provide their physicians with accurate information. Similarly, hospital administrators should be cautious to ensure that the provided data are understandable (Melnyk & Overholt, 2005). In most hospitals, the accuracy of their data is a major medical challenge. Therefore, hospitals should adopt suitable measures to ensure the accuracy of their data.
Medical experts assert that with inaccurate data, physicians cannot only come up with appropriate clinical decisions, but also deter their innovations. Since the validity of data is a challenge to most healthcare systems, hospitals are encouraged to invest in analytic cultures. Through analytic cultures, physician leaders will advocate for accurate data-driven initiatives (Bali, 2006).
In conclusion, hospitals should let their practitioners guide innovation in their organizations (Lim, 2011). To achieve this aim, hospital administrators should create a favorable environment, encourage innovative culture, and work with physicians to ensure that innovations are triggered. Similarly, in the quest to enhance innovation, hospitals should ensure that their physician leaders are well trained to identify changes needed to generate value from the resources spent.
If innovations are fully adopted in hospitals, patients will be able to interact with their physicians via telemedicine facilities (Edwards & Grinspun, 2011). Through this, patients will be able to take photographs detailing their medical conditions and send them to their doctors for evaluation. Improvements in data analysis systems will enhance cost effective health care services.
Though the new practices in healthcare have proved to be effective in improving care and reducing errors in hospitals, some hospitals and physicians have been slow in adopting them (Lim, 2011). In this regard, the government should step in and be part of the solution.
The government has to advocate for innovations in healthcare. By doing so, the government should work with healthcare stakeholders to identify, replicate, and adopt effective innovations across the country (Edwards & Grinspun, 2011).
As the innovators struggle to come up with appropriate ways of improving healthcare services, consumers should also try to be innovative and identify resources within their reach, which can help them maintain healthier lifestyles (Lazakidou, 2012). This implies that the society should invest more on building sidewalks, sporting facilities and encourage schools to adopt physical exercises for their children.
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