Steelcase hosts health care innovation event

May 5, 2009
Print
Text Size:
A A

A small conference of health care innovators is convening this week at Steelcase Inc.’s headquarters to think about new approaches to patient care.

The Innovation Learning Network is a California-based coalition of 15 leading health care organizations in the U.S., including Ascension Health, which owns Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo. Representatives meet twice a year to brainstorm new ways to deliver care, from developing a standard process to reduce medication errors to imagining a world without hospitals in 2029, said ILN Director Chris McCarthy, who also is an innovation specialist for Kaiser Permanente.

McCarthy said each ILN member brings “bits and pieces” of innovative ideas to the table, and the conferences are a chance to pull those together.

“Last year, several of our organizations started thinking more critically about what are these bits and pieces telling us?” McCarthy said. “What all this really means … is that both patients and caregivers are looking to have care anywhere.”

That led to ILN’s Care Anywhere concept, one of about nine innovation threads percolating among the members.

“Different organizations in the health care industry are putting in telemedicine and retail health care clinics — different bits and pieces of innovative health care. Last summer, they came to the conclusion that what all this really means — all this telemedicine, all these retail clinics, all these alternative models of care are pointing out to the health care industry that both the patients and the caregivers are looking to be able to have care anywhere.

“Whether you are on vacation in Madrid or biking in the mountains, or you’re in a hospital or at home or at a family member’s place, can you receive your care, by your care team, ubiquitously? That may mean through the Internet, through cell phones, through different types of devices, but some way to stay intimately connected to the people who really care for you, as opposed to showing up at a clinic and nobody knowing who you are.”

It didn’t take long for Phyllis Goetz, vice president of sales for health care line Nurture by Steelcase, to figure out the impact this discussion could have on her company.

“We tend to look at it from a spatial perspective,” Goetz said. “At first, you might think it wouldn’t have anything to do with us. But it does. You have to think about, what do the caregivers sit in and work at and use, and then what do the patients sit at, work at and use during those interactions. What are those key behaviors that the group as well as Nurture might be able to solve for?

“For Nurture, this was a marriage made in heaven. Nurture is based on using user-centered research and evidence-based design in creating the product.”

Goetz said Nurture intends to introduce two new products to the group: Sync, a new approach to nursing stations, and Sonata, for use at medicine infusion facilities.

Among ideas generated by last fall’s ILN conference:

  • Use everyday implements, such as toilets, as health monitoring devices.

  • Use robots in home health care.

  • Tailor physical treatments to patients’ emotional needs.

  • Track a patient’s network of care with social networking.

McCarthy said this week’s event is intended to bring ILN’s thought process back to 2009 and think about some practical ways innovations could be introduced within today’s parameters.

The conference is drawing participants from as nearby as Priority Health, the local health plans and Chicago, and as far away as the East and West coasts.

Recent Articles by Elizabeth Slowik

Editor's Picks

Comments powered by Disqus