“Innovation” has become a buzz word in health care: Is it worth the hype?

Kedar Mate, MD, Senior Vice President, IHI

People these days I think are looking for something new. There are lots of challenges to health care. There are lots of challenges to achieving the goal of providing better care or better health to our patients and populations, and people really are, I think, struggling with health care as it is currently set up, and whether or not it can create that vision for the future. I think the idea that innovation can somehow lead to that step change, that trajectory-shifting, course-changing effort is, I think, where the buzz comes from. You could ask the question of whether or not all the investment and energy and interest in innovation has resulted in those kinds of step changes, and, I think, to some extent, it has. I mean, we have new drugs, new diagnostics, new ways of thinking about how we administer services that are fundamentally different to how we used to do things 10, 15, 20 years ago. And, so, you could argue that innovation has had important effects in health care in general.

Maureen [IHI’s CEO] is fond of saying that we need new models of care for the challenges of today. And, I think, that’s very true. I think the value that innovation offers IHI is this sort of looking for new intellectual horizons, as well as looking for not just theory but validated theory — a tested prototype, a solution that matters. When we helped to create bundles years ago, that was a way of taking a theory for simplification, really, and improving reliability and giving that some form and shape, and that attracted a lot of attention globally, really, ultimately. And that’s exactly what I think we’re trying to do in innovation all the time, is try to create those things that the world can then use, and that’s the value we offer IHI, is really being able to create those things that IHI can then help to promote around the world.