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Can Change be Innovative?

     The answer is a resounding, yes! Organizations can experience the same euphoria when a decision has led to a positive outcome, given the fulfillment of one or more needs, wants, or desires. The definition of change, from an innovative perspective, is a decision made to replace something (a process, a procedure, a policy, etc.) with an appropriate (better) substitute. In healthcare, changing medications fits this definition. The need arises to change a medication due to a less than positive outcome. This need drives a decision – to both recognize the problem and initiate a decision. The decision-makers (the doctors and pharmacists) use their experience and knowledge (see Figure ) to identify appropriate criteria for selection. Their response will have a direct consequence on the patient. Finally, the decision replaces the medication with a new product or new dosage. The intent is to achieve a more positive outcome.

How is Innovation different from Continuous Quality Improvement

Innovation is opportunity-driven. There is always a need to identify, repair, or replace a defect. This need for continuous improvement is ongoing. Innovation does not replace this need, but does answer the need for continued growth through new opportunities. A healthy organization wants to grow, serve its patients well, and provide a reason for their loyalty and return. Innovation is not an “extension” of continuous improvement but an “expansion” of opportunities for the organization. It requires more than just a philosophical shift; it requires a different management approach.  

     The natural next question is how different? Briefly, management must do three things:

  1. Release the innate talent in the organization to make innovation a strategy for all departments, no matter the cultural differences;
  2. Provide a method to identify opportunities, evaluate these opportunities and, select those opportunities that meet future needs for growth and sustainment; and
  3. Separate innovation efforts from daily operations, routines, or practices.