Arkansas Hospitals Association Health & Science

Editor’s Letter: Simply Innovative

The following article is from Arkansas Hospitals magazine, a custom publication of Vowell, Inc., which also produces Arkansas Money & Politics.

Disney CEO Bob Iger says, “The heart and soul of a company is creativity and innovation.” As in other businesses, innovation in today’s hospitals leads not only to improvement in practices, but also to formulation of key ideas for survival and success.

Yet hospital innovation is different than what we see at manufacturing or tech companies. For us, it’s all about people. Every successful innovation brings better care and quality of life for our patients, directly impacting our over-arching purpose of improving the lives of our friends, neighbors and communities.

Some say “innovation” is among the most overused words in the English language. As a communications professional and admitted “word nerd,” I like to explore the use of words, and I believe we can pinpoint reasons for this overuse.

In every field, innovation matters. It’s critical to an organization’s survival. And never more so than today, it’s essential for the survival of hospitals, both large and small, in our ever-changing economic and regulatory environment.

Innovation helps us find direction, clarify strategies and convey individual responsibilities. It helps us reach goals in creative, new ways. It helps us engage our employees and our communities. Innovation is more than a buzzword. It’s the result of the collective imagination of all of us involved in health care.

Perhaps those who believe innovation is overused are overthinking it a bit. In our multi-tasking, hyper-digitalized lives, we may be tempted to equate innovation (and perhaps even intelligence) with complexity. But complexity is not knowledge. Complexity is just complexity. True genius lies in simplicity.

Steve Jobs, the man some regard as an innovation icon, was obsessed with simplicity. Focusing his company on a narrow range of products and relentlessly pursuing simple designs and operations, he created an empire.

I find it incredibly exciting to see a simple change paying great dividends. That’s why one of my favorite articles in this magazine is the collection of vignettes from Arkansas hospitals about simple innovations that created such value for their organizations.

Patients are cold but tripping over blankets? Give everyone a fleece jacket. Post-procedure patients uncomfortable in those open-backed hospital gowns? (And really, who isn’t?) Issue them a comfy robe!

Need to remind staff to reposition patients? Why use an alarm when you can schedule dance breaks into the day?

Everyone wins when simple innovations like these make such an impact. Bonus points for adding fun to workplace!

Harkening back to Bob Iger, I think these and the other innovations featured in this edition get right to the heart and soul of the hospital.

Because when we get down to it, isn’t heart and soul what health care is all about?

Elisa M. White
Editor-in-Chief

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