Nurses regularly tackle clinical and operational challenges in innovative ways as they go about ensuring the best care for their patients. But, often the impact of their innovations are limited to the patients they care for directly. Not including nurses in enterprisewide innovation initiatives is a missed opportunity for hospitals and health systems, finds a new report from the BDO Center for Healthcare Excellence & Innovation and Penn Nursing, conducted by HealthLeaders Media.
“When many people think about nurses, they think about the caregiver role, but they don’t think very much about us as innovators, when in fact, we are master innovators. We are problem solvers [and] solution builders,” says Antonia M. Villarruel, PhD, R.N., dean, Penn Nursing.
Nurses are well suited to lead innovation efforts around some of the areas most ripe for innovation, including care coordination, management of chronic disease and population health. Further, nurses are critical to the successful uptake and adoption of new interventions and technologies. “No matter how promising a new health technology, regulatory update or organizational process might seem, if the nurses within a health organization or business do not find it practical or valuable in the day-to-day patient setting, it will die on the vine,” says David Friend, M.D., chief transformation officer of BDO’s Center for Healthcare Excellence & Innovation.
The report shares four ways health care organizations can integrate nurses more fully into innovation activities:
- Remove barriers that discourage nurses from practicing to their full scope.
- Teach and support rigorous approaches to nursing innovation, including human-centered design and entrepreneurship skills. Doing so will help nurses see themselves as innovators.
- Create organizational structures and incentives for interdisciplinary innovation teams.>/li>
- Elevate at least one nursing leader to the C-suite of every clinical and broader health business.