Systemic Innovation

Or, how to outrun the dodo?

Zayna Kayat

Innovation Sherpa in Chief of REshape

Last week, more than 100 colleague healthcare innovation teams and designers from the US, Canada, Great Britain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and Belgium came together in the Radboudumc Nijmegen. From October 17-19th the Radboudumc REshape Center had the honor of hosting, the In-Person meeting of the Innovation Learning Network (ILN).

The ILN is an international innovation network, that includes care organizations such as Kaiser Permanente, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, MassGeneral and the NHS together with design firms such as Artefact and Continuum. The ILN members (40 in total) meet in person two times a year for 3 days of intense training, exchange and friend-ship building around the “pains and joys of doing health innovation” in complex health systems.

The overall theme was “Systemic Innovation”, Or – How to Outrun the Dodo Bird. We drew inspiration from Dutch sailors who were the first to spot the flightless bird near Madagascar in 1598. The idea was that the Dodo failed to adapt to its changing environment and quickly went extinct. Health innovators from complex systems are all struggling to stay relevant and capable of delivering on their missions given the macro changes in society, the changes across their health systems, and the micro changes within their own organizations. These changes are not only large, they are coming on faster than medicine has seen in more than 100 years.

This InPerson session was designed using an “Open Space” format (also known as an “unconference”) what means that the participants together design the content of the program in real time on the first day, based on the topics or themes that they most want to convene around.

For an “Open Space” meeting, four principles apply:

  1. The participants who attend a session are the right people
  1. What happens is the only thing that can happen
  1. The session begins when it begins
  1. When it’s over, it’s over

Peppered in between the Open Space sessions were 3 inspiring keynote talks from “our” Anne-Miek Vroom (IKONE), Helen Bevan (NHS Transformation) and Jeroen Tas (Philips Health – Innovation). We also took advantage of the deep expertise to hold a few “expert sessions” so the participants can learn from leading innovators such as Bas Bloem (Parkinsonnet), Art Lenferink (Buurtzorg), John Mattison (Kaiser Permanente ), Jonathan Campbell (Continuum) and Helen Bevan (NHS Transformation).

“We need to move from individual to collective agency to to enact real, large-scale change – Helen Bevan”

During the Tech Gallery on Tuesday afternoon, participants were also able to engage with ten promising emerging health tech companies from the region such as Dutch startups GoClinic, VisitU, Sleep.ai, Sensiks, Winq, Noscendo, Neurocast, Renaltracker and Bambi Medical; and Norwegian startup Ably Medical.

To get the participants out into the ecosystem, we ran optional site visits to the Philips Innovation Lab in Eindhoven, the NovioTech Campus in Nijmegen, Siza Het Dorp in Arnhem, Thermion primary care centre in Lent, and Tech United in Eindhoven where participants received a demonstration of different kind of (care)robots.

After five months of hard work, on the final day of the ILN, participants of the Health Innovation School, the initiative that we started from Radboudumc REshape together with the Ministry of Health, pitched the final results of their projects to the participants. Nice to see the progress the teams have made together in their effort to ensure that innovative solutions for care will actually be adopted. Even so, how many of them have learned to operate outside of their comfort zone.

The ILN organizers (from California) described the event as being on “an epic European adventure by heading to the small Dutch town of Nijmegen, Netherlands”.  The Dutch participants (more than 100 by Day 3!) certainly charmed our global guests!

Back to the theme of Systemic Innovation — what we soon learned at the in-person meeting was that what killed the Dodo bird ultimately wasn’t just natural selection that evolves linearly and locally (ie, a lack of adaptation to the Dodo’s naturally evolving ecological environment) … rather, it was the Dutch that killed the dodo! They were an outside new entrant that the natural environment had never seen before. So change was swift and fierce, and the Dodo was not designed for dealing with this new, different and fast level of change. This is the same level of disruption that now threatens everything we know about how we organize and deliver health(care) today. Which is why we need a meeting like the ILN to help each other build capabilities for system-wide innovation.

Thankfully, during 3 intense days of content, friendship-forming and joy, we boosted our resilience to these threats, and learned new ways to build systemic innovation into our organizations so we can outrun – and perhaps even creatively destroy – the Dodo.

More pictures on our REshape Facebook page