Mama knows! A week of innovation thinking at AHRQ and GravityTank (Innovation Learning Network)

Mama Knows! Click to Enlarge

The title of this post comes from the image to the left (click to enlarge) that was created as part of a storyboarding exercise at the Innovation Learning Network in person meeting at GravityTank in Chicago. It describes a novel method for airport security – “hug detection,” to add warmth to a process designed to protect people.

The idea and the following quote (paraphrase)

“by definition you’re here because you believe in the improbable.”

came from Adrienne Smith, who helps coordinate the network, along with Tim Rawson, from Kaiser Permanente (who tweets at @ILNhealthcare).

And despite the fact that the two environments (AHRQ Innovations Exchange Expert Panel and ILN) are very different, the same is true for both.

AHRQ’s Innovations Exchange Expert Panel happened in Rockville, MD, at AHRQ headquarters. Somewhat naively, I expected the setup to be like other innovation-type meetings I have gone to, but I walked into….standard government setup 1.0., you know, the horshoe table with standing mics, projector in the middle. And you know, that’s okay, because this is the government. The world of contracts and projects that mentors like @anitasamarth are teaching me about take some navigation and do get things done within this context.

This panel is truly expert across the discipline of innovation, especially in thinking about fostering the innovation environment and promoting spread of innovation. I happen to at times say that the word “spread’ is a weapon used to stifle innovation (usage: “but how will you spread that”). Little did I know how the context would be different in Chicago….


click to enlarge

The theme at the ILN10 in person meeting was storytelling, and as the story is told, there is a hero, a villian, and a weapon, and the weapon, unlike the kind mentioned above, is a good thing, it’s the thing the hero uses to get to the ending.

As you can tell from the photographs below, this was not a government 101 room setup. I’d call it Healthcare 4.0, if we only had spaces like this to think and work in. As I am a huge fan of learning about how health care can be better from the ways people improve other industries, the setup and ownership of this experience by the team at Gravitytank was nicely mind expanding.

The patient story – when to include?

One point of discussion we had was around the role of the patient story and the story in general – when are people ready for the story, when are they ready for the patient story? While there were valid perspectives presented from the diversity of top notch innovative organizations represented, I really believe that we are at an inflection point in health care. We’re going from being paternalistic to partnering/participatory. With that in mind, I’m coming away believing strongly that even though it may seem that it’s “not a good time” for a patient story, it’s always a good time for a patient story, so the focus of the story should be patients for me, and for you, too.

Attached are some images of the experience, including the official “leopard robe”-ing of Lyle “Dr.Lyle” Berkowitz @drlyle1 . Click to enlarge and enjoy.


Ted Eytan, MD