How Nurse Innovation Can Improve Patient Care and Reduce Costs

Advice on innovation from a clinical expert

By Medline Newsroom Staff | November 26, 2019

Challenges in healthcare require novel solutions, particularly for major issues like surgical site infections, which exact a heavy toll on patients and hospitals alike. Being at the forefront of healthcare, clinicians have a unique opportunity to create and drive innovation solutions. Perioperative nurse Kim Haines, director of perioperative clinical services at Medline, is one example.

Haines, who’s spent over 10 years in the OR as a perioperative nurse, is the brains behind Ready. Set. Close, a color-coded surgical closure kit that helps surgical teams follow proper aseptic techniques. Her innovation empowers operating room staff to integrate best practices each and every day. The Medline Newsroom sat with Haines to learn her tips for clinicians looking to develop and share innovative ideas that can raise the quality of patient care and reduce healthcare costs.

What advice do you want to give clinicians who are interested in developing innovations?

My first tip would be to observe common work-a-rounds. Anytime that you’re not doing your job in a way that is easy and fluid, when you’re having to circumvent a product, a process – that is your first clue that there’s potentially some innovative opportunity to consider.

After you’ve identified something that could be changed or could be better, what’s the next step to developing an idea further?

Bring any type of work-around or challenge you’ve encountered into a team meeting. This can be a great way to obtain additional feedback because your challenge might be another peer’s challenge. Socialize the concept with your fellow team members to see if they are struggling with it, and how they’re working around it, or how they’re solving the problem. If what they’re doing is really not solving the problem, it’s your second clue that there could be a good innovative opportunity.

How should clinicians tackle roadblocks to developing their innovations?

Just keep any obstacles on your radar and in the focus of your conversations with your colleagues. Have frequent dialogue around what’s working and what’s not working, and consider bringing in a fresh set of eyes to help you think about the obstacle in a different way. When you bring in people who aren’t in the thick of it every single day, you get to hear different perspectives that could help you to figure out how to overcome the hurdle.

If it is a product-type innovation, think about who in the market could be a good partner that would be willing to sit down, look at, and understand what the challenges are, and see what additional value they could bring to solving the problem. Reach out to your vendors, reach out to your healthcare partners.

How does innovation benefit clinicians and facilities?

There are two things that innovation typically helps with – safety and savings. So if you’re working around a product design or if you’re working around a process failure, then you’re technically putting patients at risk because you’re assuming people are going to do it correctly every single time. It leaves room for error. That’s why safety is always my number one priority when dealing with new thinking and innovations.

Second would be saving time and money. We know clinicians are intuitive and some of the best problem solvers out there. But when more time is being spent on work-a-rounds, that’s a great indicator that there could be a better way than what’s currently in practice.

It’s also good to remember that innovation doesn’t have to be an enormous undertaking. It starts with deliberately taking a step back to really see how often and when these moments of problem solving happen. This observation along can trigger the driving force behind your facility’s next great breakthrough that improves care and outcomes.

Learn more about how to partner with Medline to bring innovation to your facility.

Categories: Caregiver Readiness, Perioperative

Medline Newsroom Staff

Medline Newsroom Staff

Medline's newsroom staff researches and reports on the latest news and trends in healthcare.

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