Healthcare Needs More Imitation and Less Innovation


Recently, innovation has been a key element and goal of health care. However, innovation disregards the potential of imitation, where providers have the opportunity to pursue ideas and approaches that could work with some refinement.

The authors of the article, Anna Roth and Thomas Lee, propose the formation of an International Institute for Imitation that would essentially be an information broker, providing an accessible resource for Chief Imitation Officers. They also suggest an annual prize for the highest impact implementation of an idea that was created by someone else.

A few examples of imitation implemented are Contra Costa Regional Medical Center and Piedmont Health System in Georgia. Contra Costa visited Thedacare health system, subsequently adopting the idea of a "visibility wall" that displays reports of their improvement and their performance. The Piedmont Health System copied the University of Utah Health System's idea to develop an online transparency program with patient comments.

The new institute would not just encourage imitation among health care providers but also from other industries. For example, Cisco Systems doesn't just invest in its own research, but rather also partners with companies that have promising products. Similarly, some health systems are imitating Cisco Systems. Instead of creating their own divisions to combat social-economic issues that affect their patients' health, they are partnering with organizations that already concentrate on these problems.

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