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Innovation Contagion: How Cutting-Edge Processes Spread in Healthcare

September 29, 2017

Innovation in any industry, especially technology, is led by visionaries who have to push ahead while also maintaining a balance with business needs. Innovation benefits companies, individuals, and society, but it isn’t always perceived as such. It’s important to recognize that when creating new products or developing new ideas, when one area advances, everyone can advance as well if the innovation is creating opportunity and growth.

So how do the best companies innovate in a way that benefits the whole, while keeping the company profitable and running smoothly? Forbes listed ten traits of innovators which include: doing things differently, building opportunities for collaboration, and continuously innovating even after achieving success. Within medical technology, the need for collaboration and innovation has literally a life or death outcome.

Take for example robotics. There is still some fear and mistrust of robots around the potential for them to take jobs, make mistakes, or be hacked. But surgical robots have been around for quite awhile, and allow doctors to perform complex surgeries with minimal invasion. The da Vinci Surgical System was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000, and has been in widening use ever since.

At The Allure Group, technology is central to nursing and rehabilitation, where small changes can set new standards across the industry. While trendy topics like the Internet of Things are focused on household appliances, they are also advancing healthcare. EarlySense is a connected monitoring system used by The Allure Group to track a patient’s status including heart rate, sleep cycles, stress levels and vital signs usually monitored by a nurse every couple of hours. With the EarlySense system, a nurse receives an immediate message if one of the signs changes. While EarlySense was exclusive to The Allure Group, it is expanding to other health facilities and is even available for individual homes.

The digital revolution has brought smartphones, Internet, and connectivity into most people’s homes and lives, but in many cases medical care lags behind. If an individual can buy a device like a FitBit in a store and track their own daily steps, sleep patterns, calories expended and more, then shouldn’t doctors have access to this information, too? Wireless devices in medicine are integrating with smartphones but the connection between professional healthcare providers and home devices is still not as strong in some places as it could be.

This is an era of innovation for people who were previously hampered by their medical conditions. Cardiac monitoring is one area where The Allure Group led a change to make monitoring more commonplace, and it worked. Cardiac patients should have complete care and monitoring even when they aren’t experiencing a cardiac episode. The Allure Group led a trial to reduce hospital readmissions in cardiac patients using a remote monitoring system to alert doctors of any changes. During the trial period hospital readmissions for congestive heart failure patients were reduced from 31 percent to seven percent by a group of doctors keeping constant watch for symptoms and changes and holding weekly meetings to assess the patient’s health.

The more comfortable patients get with medical devices in hospitals, the more they will be able to utilize technology for their own healthcare at home. There are a number of devices and apps which can improve and monitor health at very little cost. One example is AliveCor, which attaches to a smartphone to take a medical grade EKG. It was ranked #3 in Fast Company’s list of the 10 Most Innovative Companies in Health in 2017. Another on the list is Propeller Health, which attaches to inhalers to track data around asthma symptoms and deliver results to a smartphone for analysis by the patient and doctor.

Innovation takes many forms, and improving on existing techniques and knowledge is always part of the process. By putting together several ideas to form something new, the healthcare industry can make leaps in progress while still maintaining patient comfort. Once an idea or process becomes standard, the cycle of innovation begins again.