Why is Innovation Necessary?

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During my early years as a new attending, I got involved in care of an infant delivered at a local community hospital. The infant was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot.

This diagnosis was made possible by the telemedicine echocardiogram program offered by our Heart Institute, which provides subspecialty outreach services to the remote hospitals.

The initial telemedicine echocardiogram for this infant was complemented by me during on-site follow-up consultation at that local hospital. Thus, I was able to meet the parents, discuss the diagnosis with them and coordinate further postnatal follow-up care locally, obviating need for transferring the infant to our main hospital in Washington, DC. This was a great relief for the family.

Telemedicine is an example of technology-enabled service delivery innovation; a model of virtual medicine which fills the gaps in care delivery, increases access to care and complements the traditional center-based care.

Through a strong telemedicine program, our hospital, Children's National Medical Center, offers national and international outreach by providing remote subspecialty consultations and clinical and medical education. We also provide robotic-enabled Tele ICU services to the patient bedside.

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Innovation is an introduction of something new, which solves existing problems, addresses current challenges, avails new opportunity and creates value for the society. Innovation also uses new ideas and technology, resulting in novel business models, process improvement, new products and enhanced service delivery.

Two main types of innovation are sustaining innovation and disruptive innovation. Sustaining innovation adds value by improving what is already present or being done. Disruptive innovation causes disruption of the status quo.

Telemedicine was introduced as a disruptive innovation, which has created a new virtual care delivery market by providing remote care to the patients where and when needed, thus simplifying the care delivery process and improving access to care.

In the current era, telemedicine continues to innovate by integrating with other technologies, including artificial intelligence, mobile and wireless, and robotics, thus increasing value for the end users.

Innovation like telemedicine is necessary for the health care sector as it complements the traditional center-based care delivery model, ultimately transforming the health care delivery and promoting the triple aim.

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The "Why Innovation" section series is a brief write-up from ACC Health Care Innovation Section members to give readers a background of their professional journey, and explain the significance of innovation to their work and in the field.

Authors can include their personal definition of innovation, as well as tips or tricks on how to bring innovative ideas to the table in otherwise traditional settings and spaces.

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This article was authored by Jai Nahar, MD, MBA, associate professor of pediatrics at George Washington School of Medicine and attending in the division of cardiology at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC.