Strategic Planning

Accelerating Innovation Out of the Spotlight

Accelerating innovation for healthcare


On this episode of the Accelerate Health podcast, Rob Havasy, senior director of connected health with HIMSS, speaks with Troy Keyser, director of Carilion Innovation for Carilion Health about adapting and accelerating innovation on a smaller but just as important scale.

In the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, hospitals across the world were struggling to adapt to the ever-changing protocol, personal protective equipment shortages and fear of an unknown virus and its implications on their resources, staff and personally, their families. At Carilion Health, a smaller health system than the larger ones talked about on the nightly news, Troy had to find new ways of accelerating innovation to solve the same challenges that faced those health giants but with fewer resources than them.

Havasy opens the discussion with a stroll down memory lane for Keyser and what led him to Carilion Health and creating their innovation program. While they had focused on commercializable inventions up until the pandemic, once COVID-19 reached their doors, they had to pivot considerably the trajectory and types of innovations they were working on. It greatly accelerated the innovation roadmap Keyser had planned for several years down the line to just a matter of months.

Keyser gives an example of N95 mask shortages across their hospitals, but without the means to acquire more, they looked to unusual places on the internet for inspiration and in the community around them to find a way to make the masks they did have reusable but still safe.

Although large scale resources were lacking, Keyser speaks to the importance of the local community and utilizing the partners they did have in the right ways. Virginia Tech was only a few miles away with eager and willing students and a state-of-the-art lab with industrial 3D printers. The health system’s human factors team also played an instrumental part in testing the prototypes with actual staff and making sure the acclimation process was at the forefront of design. Havasy leads this example into a discussion on the status of American manufacturing and is it really dead or just dormant?

The conversation ends with a deeper look into the importance of involving lawyers from the start of an innovation project and the big difference between coming up with an idea and bringing it over the finish line vs. one that inspires confidence in its users, and makes people happy to accept it.

The views and opinions expressed in this content or by commenters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HIMSS or its affiliates.

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