Innovation or Novelty?

It’s a tough call commissioning new care processes.

Do you do the same as usual but faster? Do you do something different, by definition an untried process .

Doing something different is often described as an innovation, but is it really innovative?

A new contract to an existing supplier which is accomplished by the supplier in its current form is not innovation. It may have the novelty of newness, the frissant of freshness, but if the provider is just doing more of what it is set up to do, then there is no innovation. More of the same does not change the landscape and although novelty is amusing for  a while it soon fades and the system returns to normal.

Setting out to commission something which requires existing suppliers to change their processes and structures or which can only be fulfilled by a new provider is innovation. Beware that all existing pressures in our complex adaptive health system will attempt to force the new initiative into a shape that neuters the effect of innovation, so the emergent commissioning decision will need to be protected and steered to produce an innovation solution.

Why bother about innovation?

It is the nature of healthcare systems to be complex and adaptive. These systems want to revert to their current attractor state and the only way to move the system is a significant disruption. If you’re not ready to break it- and we’re not quite there yet with healthcare, the next best thing, possibly the best thing, is to innovate.

Go ahead, give it a try, but not as a novelty item.