Hospital Safety: Why We Need the Third Wave of Innovation

Why We Need the Third Wave of Innovation

Earlier this week, we shared a thoughtful piece from the Harvard Business Review on ways to improve patient safety in hospitals. Every year, approximately 200,000 surgical patients needlessly die as a result of complications or other post-operative issues.

Sadly, we don’t have to look far for a reminder of the need to improve our hospital care. Massachusetts health authorities confirmed Wednesday that they are “investigating an allegation that a surgeon removed a kidney from the wrong patient.” The incident allegedly occurred at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts.

“This is a deeply unfortunate situation involving a patient misidentification that took place outside of our hospital and did not involve our employees.” according to a statement from Tenet Health, which owns St. Vincent. “Our staff followed proper protocols in preparing for and performing the surgery, which was scheduled by the patient’s physician at our hospital.”

The hospital’s defense — “we followed proper protocols” — reinforces Harvard’s conclusion: protocols are valuable – but we’ve hit the cap on the benefits from protocols.

The answer: A third wave of innovation built on personalized care and a focus on getting every patient the treatment that is right for them.

“Indeed, pursuing a perfectly standardized system ignores the fact that each patient is different. High reliability organizing recognizes that over-standardizing can also increase risks,” the researchers write. “Therefore making patients safer involves standardizing when possible, but also embracing variation, instead of simplifying patients into one category, and honing practices for responding to a range of encounters.”

Read the entire piece.

Health Care Start-up: Accolade

We’re excited to see start-ups working to improve health care. We aren’t the only ones.

This week, Accolade, which acts as a healthcare concierge service, announced it raised $70 million in funding.

“Accolade’s job is to act kind of like how a hotel concierge helps you out, by suggesting the best places to eat,” Business Insider explains. “But instead of a recommendation for a pizza place nearby, Accolade wants to give you direct guidance on the next steps you need to take if you need something for your health, like a new medication or to refill a prescription.”

The company also seems to understand that technology is an effective tool for enhancing — not replacing — other services. “Accolade is an interesting mix of human beings, technology, and clinical science,” says Raj Singh, the company’s CEO.

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