I was recently talking with the Chief Innovation Officer at a major hospital system. In our discussion we talked about how he’d grown his organization from 130 to 270 employees over the last year. At most hospitals, you probably want to keep your head count down, but when you’re working on innovation, it’s a great thing if you can justify growing your head count. This is particularly true in this innovation officers situation since they do a lot to commercialize the innovations they create.
As we were talking another colleague that was with us talked about how she’d wished that she’d become a medical doctor, but that she’d missed her chance. She did say that she was planning to start her PhD in Radiology Informatics soon with her goal of becoming the CMIO at a hospital. I’m sure she’s going to achieve her goal. However, the Chief Innovation Officer’s comment was really interesting.
You have to know that the colleague that wanted to do her PhD was not a doctor and didn’t really have a medical background. However, the Chief Innovation Officer immediately said something like, “We need more people like you in health care. We absolutely don’t have to only work with doctors. I love when smart people that have no health care experience come to work in healthcare.” Then, he capped it off, “You don’t have to have an MD to make an impact on health care.”
The statement was quite interesting for me coming from someone who hires a lot of people in health care and it turns out he’s also an MD.
I was glad to see this perspective from someone who I’ve seen doing really amazing things in health care. Unfortunately, I think this chief innovation officer might be the exception. I don’t think this view is strongly shared by many of his peers. I think there’s still a bit of an aversion to working with people that don’t have health care experience. I think it’s unfortunate since fresh eyes can often do wonders when it comes to improving an organization.