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Focusing
on a positive impact

Trust Talks with: Professor Stephen Chick, Academic Director, Healthcare Management Initiative, INSEAD Business School

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For the Trust, “innovation” is not just the latest buzz word. It’s integral to how we envision empowering people on the front lines of care to transform health systems. Many people wrestle with the idea of whether or not they are an innovator, and if they have what it takes to initiate innovative solutions to the world’s health issues.

In this Trust Talk, we turn to Professor Stephen Chick, an expert in healthcare innovation at INSEAD Business School for the World (INSEAD), a Flagship Partner of the Trust, to help answer these questions. Stephen Chick is a Professor of Technology and Operations Management, the Novartis Chaired Professor of Healthcare Management, and Academic Director, Healthcare Management Initiative. The Healthcare Management Initiative is made up of three healthcare leadership programs jointly offered by INSEAD and the Trust. In this discussion, we learn how one of these programs, Innovating Health for Tomorrow (IHT), equips health care leaders with the skills to transform health systems.

The Trust: Do you think people are simply “born” innovators, or is innovation a skillset you can learn?

Stephen Chick: I believe you can learn innovation: skillsets healthcare leaders can — and should — acquire. As a concept, innovation can sound intimidating, but by breaking down the abstract concept into its discrete, digestible building blocks, you can demystify it and then begin to learn and employ the approach and tools needed to be an innovator.

How does IHT equip its participants with the tools and approach needed to be an innovator in the healthcare field?

IHT accelerates the learning of innovation in two parts, or modules. In the first module, we explore the Innovator’s DNA, a theory based on the study of many high-profile innovators to uncover habits and methods to help participants and their teams become more innovative. We also develop idea tournaments by theory and workshop to help systematize and improve innovation processes. Between the two modules, participants return to their organizations to apply their learnings to an issue they are trying to solve. When they return for Module Two, we develop change management and startup techniques to prototype and develop business models they can take back home to further innovate within their health organizations.

What is unique about IHT?

Unlike other healthcare accelerators or incubators, IHT is designed specifically with senior health leaders in mind, such as hospital executives and senior healthcare managers, from both the public and private sectors. Past participants have come from places as diverse as Ministries of Health, various nonprofits, and health clinics from around the world. Aside from the course materials, the community of people that we bring together is truly remarkable. I believe participants learn just as much from interacting with each other as they do from us, and we learn from the group too!

How have past participants taken their lessons learned at IHT to create impact in their workplace and communities?

Many participants have gone on to really reimagine different projects and ideas by taking home specific tactics and tools they discovered at IHT. The Sankara Eye Foundation had already completed one million free eye surgeries when its President, Bharath Balasubramaniam, took the IHT course. But IHT exposed him to new ideas and a culture of creative ideation that he was able to take back to India. By rethinking community outreach and employing digital tools, Bharath broadened the impact of his organization, and to date, his team has completed more than 1.6 million eye surgeries to date. Michael Seo used the tools he learned at IHT in 2014 to bring the nurse-run Unjani Clinic model from South Africa to scale in Kenya. And these advancements aren’t just taking place in developing countries either. In Australia, one past participant has begun employing Google Translate in his dentistry practice to improve communication between patients and providers who do not speak the same language. In Sweden, others repurposed the idea tournament concept learned in IHT, enabling their team to continuously generate new ideas to improve care management, including for oncology and cardiology patients.

Do you have any final takeaways?

Across the world, health systems are strained. People are living longer, the set of diseases and conditions are changing, and there continues to be a shortage of health care workers. Yet, there are a vast number of opportunities, such as amazing advances in mobile, computing and biomedical sciences. At IHT, we make the case for innovating healthcare business models themselves: taking apart health systems, processes, and approaches and putting them back together in new, more effective ways.

Stephen Chick is Professor of Technology and Operations Management, the Novartis Chaired Professor of Healthcare Management, and Academic Director, Healthcare Management Initiative