Judging Innovation

Healthcare architects like to talk about evidence-based design, and we like to talk about innovation. Sometimes we link the two concepts as mutually supporting, and at other times we contrast them. But are they quantified and judged in the same way? How do you know when you have been successful?

Metrics for an EBD process.

Evidence-based design is a process by which specific design strategies are hypothesized to provide a benefit to patient care, and the design is then rigorously tested with proper controls to see if the expected benefit actually occurs. If it does, we have added to the body of knowledge that informs the work of designing healthcare environments. Done well, this is a fairly straightforward, data-driven analysis.

But how do we judge Innovation?

The desire to innovate in seeking new and better solutions is at the very core of creativity. Without innovation, we cannot move forward. But how do we judge whether innovation has been successful? Is it the same as the EBD process? I believe it’s more nuanced. It’s true that at a later point the innovation may in fact be the subject of an EBD process. However, to judge the success of the creative process and resulting innovation, we may want to ask the following questions:

  • Was the quality of the end-user experience improved?
  • Did we learn something? Will this experience lead to the next attempt?
  • Did we solve an existing problem in a new way?
  • Did we address a new problem effectively? How else might it be solved?
  • How big was the impact? Both small and large impacts can still be considered success.
  • Would all agree that the innovation was a success, or just certain groups? For example, was it considered a success by patients but not by providers? Is a partial success still a success?
  • Does it make the healthcare environment a better place? How so?
  • Is it aspirational?

How would you judge innovation?

1 Comment

  1. Mike Platis /Reply

    I believe innovation is what helps all industries evolve, and even if the innovation is not successful, we have still learned what does not work, which many times is just as important. Thank you for posting this article. It helps stoke the creative fires.

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