How can clinicians incorporate innovation in their daily work?

Kedar Mate, MD, Senior Vice President, IHI

In my view, it’s about noticing things. A key ingredient to being a good innovator, I think, is being observant. Looking for those things that are positive or negative deviants — outliers — that are remarkable or give you some insight into a system or a process that will allow you to make it different and better. So I’d say to my clinical colleagues, look for the things that, you know, are those positive and negative deviants. Look for the people that are outliers or thinking a little differently or approaching a problem a little differently.

In your daily life, when you go to eat at a restaurant or queue up in the TSA line at the airport, or whatever you’re doing in your normal life, notice the things that you think are being done extremely well or, conversely, extremely poorly because those will hold the lessons for you to help solve the problems that you’re facing right now. Those are some of the things I’d suggest that I think clinicians can do in their routine daily work. They don’t have to take a course on this, they don’t have to do anything different. If they pause to be observant and then reflect on those observations in their lives — in their daily clinical practice or in their lives outside the clinic — I think they can make meaningful, important improvements or innovations to their existing practice.