What Personality is Your Hospital? Navigating the Innovation Landscape

by Matthew Bromwich

Coauthors: Dr. Bromwich is a surgeon and the director of TECHI Innovation CORE at CHEO in Ottawa and the founder of several medical device companies and is pursuing a masters in innovation and technology management from Carleton University.

Medical Devices & Digital Health

In the realm of innovation, as in life, attempting to masquerade as something you're not is a dangerous dance – a facade that only invites disruption and discord, veiling our true potential and hindering the path towards authentic success.

The concept of "hospital personality" offers a framework for understanding the unique strengths and challenges that different institutions face along the convoluted pathway of innovation. This perspective facilitates the identification and leveraging of inherent assets to help organizations drive effective, sustainable change.

Innovation in hospitals faces three primary challenges: transitioning from ideation to research and development (R+D), a phase characterized by a prevalent knowledge gap; moving from R+D to business, which encounters a funding gap; and integrating innovative solutions back into the hospital environment, often hindered by a collaboration gap. This abstract presents the argument that each of these challenges requires a distinct innovation type, or hospital "personality," to effectively address these gaps.

Firstly, we explore the "Incubator" personality. This type of institution excels in the early stages of innovation, supporting the transition from ideation to R+D. Incubator hospitals foster environments of early collaboration and provide resources to navigate the often unfamiliar terrain of healthcare innovation and support their physicians with time, resources and pathways.

Secondly, we identify the "Commercializer" personality. These hospitals navigate the leap from R+D to business, filling the funding gap with monetary support and staff it with business acumen and. Commercializer hospitals possess the resources and skill sets necessary to manage conflict of interest, identify value, and build cross functional teams that drive the commercial success of innovations.

Finally, we address the "Implementer" personality. Implementers excel in ingesting innovation back into hospitals. They employ strong change management strategies, de-risk managers, reward change and ensure the sustainability of innovation in the hospital context, effectively bridging the collaboration gap.

After interviewing a dozen major hospital innovation programs it became clear that understanding a hospital's "personality" or innovation type can help institutions optimize their potential, set realistic expectations, and achieve their unique vision of success. It is not about transforming into something they are not, but rather about nurturing their intrinsic strengths and capabilities. By identifying and embracing their distinct "personality," hospitals can effectively navigate the sometimes unfamiliar ecosystems within innovation, delivering both their individual missions and the field of pediatric healthcare as a whole. This approach fosters an environment where creative ideas flourish, evolve into tangible solutions, and ultimately enhance patient outcomes with direct impact.

What personality is your organization? Lets find out.