The tipping point – are we there yet?

Sometimes I close my eyes and imagine how in a perfect world innovation in health and social care would be easy.  Now don’t get me wrong I know how the system is being improved and that it takes time to really make changes.    The NHS is a mighty big ship to turn around in a short time.

I came into nursing to make a difference, to do what other had done for me when I was ill. Nurses that sat with me in the middle of the night, listened to my story and gave me hope.

hope

Being a patient really focusses the brain, you notice things, recognise good and bad care and you understand the things that matter.  There were lots of painful experiences as a patient, too many to mention in a blog post.  Yet simple things such as reducing the times that I needed to have a new cannula needle inserted in my arm would have made a difference.

cannula

I remember the dread that washed over me if my IV fluids stopped flowing, or if someone removed the cannula too early when it was still needed for my treatment.   There were times when the IV would catch on something in the night and that could pull out the cannula, leaving the fluid to flow out over the bedclothes.  The challenge for the clinician was to get another cannula in my arm by hopefully finding a vein in the middle of the night.  It starts to become painful after a while when your veins decide they have had enough.

I started this post with the question – The tipping point, are we there yet?  Much has been written by  Malcolm Gladwell and others about the conditions required to get to the tipping point.  A combination of  factors that swing together as if by magic to make change happen.  John Stepper  work is a great case study for tipping points  covering how he started a work out loud #WOL movement..  Check out his TedTalk for more details.

This week  I started to believe that we have finally reached a tipping point for clinical innovators.  Why do I believe this?  Well,  Monday I was part of a national tribe of innovators, entrepreneurs and the go to team for innovation in the NHS at the launch of the first ever Clinical Entrepreneurs  programme.  The event   was inspirational and no one could doubt the passion for innovation in the room.  Talking with Dr Tony Young on the night I was pleased to hear that the plan is for future programmes to extend beyond a medical model and include other clinical professions and patients.  There is at last a real appetite for innovation in health and social care with a structure in place to support the difficult journey from having an idea to healthcare innovator and entrepreneur.  BBC Click covered more on innovation in health, interviewing Dr Tony Young and showcasing the great projects that are being supported.

To put the national picture in context with what is happening at the frontline I want to zoom down now to my role as Clinical Innovation Lead at Salisbury NHS FT where I manage an innovation portfolio of products.  As an innovator myself I have an understanding of the tenacity and enthusiasm you need to push through the challenges and finally ship a product. This helps me to challenge the status quo in a positive way and mentor other innovators.  I have worked with a brilliant clinical innovator Richard Laughton who has been shortlisted for a patient safety award.  patientsafetyawardsLinking back to my patient experience Richard looked at a real patient concern, safety and cost issue by developing his innovation whilst working on a medical ward.  The innovation called Safebreak, provides a low-cost way to prevent cannula being pulled out as identified in my narrative and ensure patient care not compromised.  I intend to ask Richard to blog on this site about the device in the next few weeks.   The device is incredible and shows that we need to support nurse innovators and give them the head space they need to develop their innovations.                        .

The Safe break device is unique in other ways too.  Normally we would develop a specification for a prototype company,  this would be an expensive and lengthy route to having an actual prototype in our hands to show to companies.  We have a 3d printing company on site and I decided to see if we could disrupt the normal prototype route by printing the device.  This reduced costs, enabled us to produce a prototype in a short time and adjust as necessary.  Real disruptive innovation happening at local level.

To sum up my week in two ways – National and Local innovation has been helpful.  It is my attempt to show that there is now a tangible tipping point with innovation in the NHS.  My challenge to you is to reflect on this blog post and see what you can do to think different!

 

Building products customers love (1)

My Trusty Sunflower cream is a great case study to show innovation in the NHS.  The original sunflower cream product was developed to be used by patients who had plastic surgery over twenty years ago.  My role was to take this basic product, innovate and build a product customers love.

There’s a whole raft of information on the product here which was featured on the BBC One show within a few months of launch because is was unique.  The brand is the first NHS skincare range and all profits are put back into patient care.

What I want to do in this blog is fill in the back story and piece together how innovation can be ignited in the simplest of situations.  To deconstruct my work on the My Trusty brand I will use the research of Hal Gregersen, Clayton Christensen and Jeff Dyer “The Innovator’s DNA” .  The book is a result of eight years of exploratory study by the authors to identify the key skill set for innovators.  The research identified five “discovery skills” used by innovative leaders that distinguishes them from the ordinary:

Questioning: Posing queries that challenge common wisdom

Observing: Scrutinizing the behavior of customers, suppliers and competitors to identify new ways of doing things

Networking: Meeting people with different ideas and perspectives

Experimenting: Constructing interactive experiences and provoking unorthodox responses to see what insights emerge

Associating: Drawing connections between questions, problems, or ideas from unrelated fields

Yet perhaps the most significant finding in the research was our ability to generate innovative ideas is not just a function of our minds, but of our behaviors. Thus, by changing our behaviors and regularly incorporating the above “discovery skills” in our daily lives, we can improve our innovation aptitude.  Here are a few key links – Mastery Video

The videos and research articles give you an insight into this work and I would recommend the book to anyone who wants to innovate. From a personal perspective, I would like to extend my gratitude to Hal Gregersen who has always shown an interest in my work as an innovator and has been generous with his support.

In my next blog post, I will cover the first discovery skill – Questioning and link to my work with My Trusty.  As a final takeaway here’s a great webcast on building products customers love and a video on lean start up.

If you want to find out more about the individuals behind the videos and products by following on twitter:-

@HalGregersen   @leanstartup   @ericries

@CarolLRead   @My_Trusty   @SalisburyNHS