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Three ways to use innovation as a learning tool from Pfizer, Cincinnati Children’s and United Health

4:58 pm by | 0 Comments

education knowledge news thinkingThere’s so much experimentation going on right now as hospitals, payers, pharmaceutical and medical device companies try to figure out what works and doesn’t work to improve outcomes. There’s also the thinking that if an idea is good enough it could be spun into a new revenue stream. But execution comes in many forms. Some of that includes developing pilot programs to test drive ideas developed in-house.

Businesses are also using innovation as a market research exercise — initiating potential businesses just to learn about their customers.

That was one of the most interesting parts of a Converge conference panel moderated by Naomi Fried, the chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital. Pfizer, United Health, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Highmark talked about the new developments and insights gathered from their innovation divisions. I highlighted some of the businesses Highmark is developing earlier this week.

Collaborative innovation

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Dr. Peter Margolis, the head of research at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, talked about its Collaborative Chronic Care Network or C3N Project. It was formed to create a way to use the experience of patient, clinicians, and researchers and get them to think creatively in ways to improve outcomes. The first conditions it focused on were Crohn’s disease and ulcerative collitis. As of this month the rate of remission has gone up from 50 percent to 77 percent, according to Margolis. How? By 1,000 physicians, nurses, other medical professionals and patients sharing data, stories, know-how and using data collected from a registry of 15,000 patients they standardized their practices. They learned faster. Margolis likened it to what the Institute of Medicine calls a learning health system.

Shifting how a company uses innovation

Jennifer Drackleliss, UnitedHealthcare senior director of innovation, observed how UnitedHealthcare has shifted its approach to innovation. Several years ago it focused only on the services that hit the market. But these days, she observed, innovation is used to build knowledge and share that across the business. “Over time, we’ve come to realize that there’s an awful lot of value in the learning that comes from going through the process,” such as talking to consumers and learning through experimentation. One example was its move to add a digital presence in its Medicare products — something it previously avoided because it was convinced seniors weren’t interested in going online. But it changed its position when it discovered that baby boomers don’t shy away from digital technology.

Underpinning programs

Wendy Meyer, Pfizer vice president of worldwide innovation highlighted two examples for how Pfizer approaches innovation. It assembled a real world analytics team to improve the way it uses real world data to supplement clinical trial data. It also developed an integrated health business to help the company focus on health and wellness components of disease states for which it sells products.

[Photo credit: The concept of education from BigStock Photo]

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Stephanie Baum

By Stephanie Baum

Stephanie Baum is the East Coast Innovation Reporter for MedCityNews.com. She enjoys covering healthcare startups across health IT, drug development and medical devices and innovations deployed to improve medical care. She graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania and has worked across radio, print and video. She's written for The Christian Science Monitor, Dow Jones & Co. and United Business Media.
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