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Introduction

“The future belongs to those who seize the opportunities created by innovation.”

—Toby Cosgrove, CEO and president of Cleveland Clinic

Innovation’s Logical Laboratory

Innovation invokes disciplined practice and results-oriented objectives that can distinguish an institution and deliver a sustainable competitive advantage. At Cleveland Clinic, innovation means putting ideas to work.

There may be no industry more in need of innovative thinking right now than healthcare. Everyone has gotten the memo. A fundamental paradigm shift in business models and relationship structures is demanded. No stakeholder is immune. Whether you’re a provider, consumer, supplier, academic, elected official, or just an observer, you need to strap on your helmet.

What you do after buckling the chin strap will likely determine how your organization emerges from the turmoil. Some will bury their heads in the sand, the ostrich mentality. And there will be plenty of cut-to-prosperity advocates and stay-the-course proponents. But these pages are dedicated to those who intend to innovate to improvement—improvement in quality and outcomes, patient access, and increased fiscal responsibility.

This book is for those who’ve donned a crash helmet and a thinking cap, because you’ll need both to survive and thrive. To think and execute the way out of this—and subsequent— quagmires will require innovation mastery.

Innovation is hard, elusive to achieve, and challenging to sustain. Shortcomings result from misunderstanding the merits of failure, inadequate engagement in disciplined innovation practices, and too little definition regarding why your institution innovates in the first place.

From the very inception of Cleveland Clinic, engaging in innovation wasn’t just a novelty or opportunity, it was a responsibility. Innovation is a practice expressed in the very DNA of Cleveland Clinic. Innovation aligned with, amplified, and enabled our core belief that we’re here to improve and extend human life.

We’re often asked, “When did innovation begin at Cleveland Clinic?” The answer is easy: 1921. That’s the year Cleveland Clinic was founded by four visionary physicians who’d served in U.S. Army hospitals during World War I and came home deeply impressed by the collaborative nature of military medicine. Our founders envisioned specialists with advanced knowledge and skill being deployed to focus on patients with complex problems. This model contradicted the jack-of-all-trades approach that abounded in medicine at the turn of the twentieth century.1 Today, more physicians are engaged in professional arrangements such as Cleveland Clinic’s than in traditional private practice.2

We’re also often asked how Cleveland Clinic became so accomplished at innovation. Our group practice model is one of the principle catalysts. Our institution is full of clinical entrepreneurs who identify unmet needs, think creatively, share data, and ultimately provide solutions that advance the art and science of medicine. But we’re also the highest-acuity hospital in the nation,3 meaning we have the sickest patients. Our hands ...

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