Innovation Spotlight: Penn Medicine's Center For Healthcare Innovation

As both the nation’s first hospital and first medical school, Penn Medicine’s history dates back to the mid 18th Century. Over the years it has been consistently recognized as one of the top medical institutions in the the U.S. due to the organization’s dedication to education, research and patient care, and its innovative advancements and contributions to the medical field.

Building on the pioneering approach to medicine, Penn Medicine opened its Center for Health Care Innovation in 2011, a 28,000-square-foot facility designed for the specific purpose of “facilitating the rapid, disciplined development, testing and implementation of new strategies to reimagine health care delivery for dramatically better value and patient outcomes.

Located in Center City Philadelphia, the Center for Health Care Innovation serves more than 22,000 Penn Medicine faculty and staff, providing them with virtual tools and educational programs to promote career growth, advancements in their own practices, and personal contributions to the medical field. There is even an Innovation Accelerator Program that offers essential support to faculty and staff who have ideas for new healthcare delivery approaches.

Other features a state-of-the-art Smart Hospital, simulation learning labs, and the Social Media and Health Innovation Lab, which launched in 2013. 

As its name implies, The Social Media and Health Innovation Lab focuses directly on the unique and ever-growing use of new communication channels, such as social media and mobile technologies, to improve healthcare. But Dr. David Asch, Executive Director of Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation, is quick to point out,It can seem boring if you think innovation is just about creating trendy smartphone apps." 

While smartphone apps and social platforms have in fact been a game-changer in field of medicine, Asch stresses that there is so much more to making advancements in this realm of healthcare: 

"Many believe the process of health care innovationis the process of ideation -- of coming up with often-wacky ideas that seem incredibly exciting. But it's really very different from that; innovation in a health care setting is a highly disciplined enterprise involving scientific rigor, testing and implementation.” 

The Center for Health Care Innovation as a whole applies this disciplined approach to making advancements in each one of the organization's five areas of focus:

1. Making people healthier

2. Bringing care into people's lives

3. Reducing the cost of health care

4. Enabling and accelerating innovation

5. Encouraging and catalyzing others

Its method to make “big improvements” in these areas is by experimenting “quickly at low cost, only scaling once we find high impact solutions.” This allows researchers to learn what works and what doesn’t faster, with fewer losses in the process.

Asch explains, We’re moving into an era where ‘getting away’ with as little testing as possible is an essential feature of successful innovation – so long as that testing is done in a real context where the results are believable.”

Through its values and vision, Penn Medicine is creating a culture of innovation that is not only enriching and invigorating for researchers, but is highly effective for making real, timely improvements for the patient experience and the health care system as a whole.