Aug 2022

Innovators Unite! New Innovation Focus Bubbling Up at Providence


Innovation is a tricky concept. It’s certainly related to invention as well as research and development. But it also spans the gamut from micro-improvements right up to systemic change. Organizations that lack an innovation mindset, risk many things. In a classic David and Goliath story, Reed Hastings, one of the founders of Netflix said “It was not obvious at the time, even to me, but we had one thing that Blockbuster did not: a culture that valued people over process, emphasized innovation over efficiency and had very few controls.” Netflix is a good example of an organization that has been very successful at cultivating innovation by developing an environment where their people feel safe to dream, speak up, and take risks.

Applying innovation within healthcare

In health care, the concept of innovation is even trickier. Effective processes are essential to medical procedures, health and safety protocols, and everything from schedules, to appointments to shifts. So, the “people over process” approach of private industry won’t work for us alone. But, sticking to process without critique or a “second look” by people doing the work is also stifling opportunities for innovation. So what about people and process? Same for Hastings’ reference to innovation over efficiency. We can’t do away with efficiency as we have finite people and resources and frankly, hours in a day. But again, what about innovation and efficiency? What do we have to change to make this shift?

Defining the Providence “innovation ecosystem”

 At Providence, we don’t accept that we must choose people over process or innovation over efficiency. But it will take teamwork and continuous change. In Mission: Forward, we emphasized our desire to enhance our learning culture and spread a mindset for innovation throughout the organization. But how do we get there? Enter Innovarium 360°.

Innovarium 360° is the name of our “innovation ecosystem.” You can think of it as the glue or connective tissue between the various components of Providence Health Care, providing cohesion and internal support for improvements, advancements and new ways of doing things. By helping those driven to improve things work together, Innovation 360° is the path to moving from good ideas to improvements we can actually implement.

The name innovarium is a riff on places like the planetarium and the aquarium. Literally, it means a place of innovation. The addition of “360 degrees” takes Innovarium from a “place” to an “environment or ecosystem.” Like Providence itself, innovation is spread throughout multiple buildings, services, clinics, and virtual spaces. Like a planetarium or aquarium, Innovarium 360° is an accessible and welcoming environment for everyone.

Your connection to innovation (Yes, you!)

So what does that look like in your daily work? It means being observant and looking for opportunities for improvement, no matter what your role. Providence clinicians, leaders, staff, volunteers, everyone.

Do you see waste? What could improve it? A recycling program? A change of materials? A switch of vendor?

Do you see inefficiencies? What intervention could help? A digital replacement of an old system? A new schedule? A change in the physical environment?

Do you see opportunity? What could you create or invent to improve your work flow? Are you a researcher with a new discovery or technology? Do you need collaborators or guidance to make something happen?

Joining the movement

No one wants to come to work and just tolerate things that could improve. And definitely not people who work at Providence! So consider this just the start of the conversation about innovation and keep your eyes and ears open for the Innovarium 360° “mindset, method and means” that will be rolling out across the organization to make innovation a part of our day-to-day. Spearheaded jointly by Deb Mitchell, Chief Strategy Officer and VP Governance, Brian Simmers, CFO and VP People and Health Informatics, and Darryl Knight, VP Research and Academic Affairs, in the months and years ahead, we’ll be talking about the components of Innovarium 360° and most importantly how it works and who to contact.

Want more information on Innovarium 360°?

Please click here for a comprehensive Q&A or go to the Innovarium 360° intranet page on connect.