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Are You An Embarrassed Innovator?

If it takes a decade for you to learn something from another industry and apply it to your own health care organization, you should be issuing apologies for taking so long, not press releases.

I recently Facebook "friended" a certain west coast hospital (though not because they're doing anything interesting with social media. So far their Facebook presence is limited to shoveling press releases out the electronic door.) But my daughter works there and I figured it'd be a nice way to keep up with events in her life as a newly-minted RN.

Yesterday this hospital announced the opening of in-lobby registration kiosks, complete with a user's rave review. And there right in front of me, in 500 breathless words, was everything I find so frustrating about innovation in health care, a term that seemingly becomes more oxymoronic by the day.

Looking outside your industry is an excellent place to begin the search for innovative ideas. Good for them (or maybe their IT vendor.) Still, to the principles of innovation in health care, I'd propose adding the following codicil:
If you're announcing an 'innovation' today that the airline industry...the airline industry...the AIRLINE INDUSTRY FOR GOD'S SAKE accomplished 10 years ago...you owe apologies to the world's true innovators. And instead of earning kudos you may have people wondering 'what took you so long?'
When you've shortened that learning curve to, oh, 6 months we'll have something to discuss. And you'll have finally earned the right to call yourself 'innovative.'


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