Adventist Health Embraces Innovation

The world is becoming innovative. Now more than ever, people and businesses are trying to come up with great ideas never thought of before. It is known Edison didn't invent the light bulb on his first try, and Google's founders didn't launch their search engine in an afternoon. Yet, both innovations have rocked our world and are evolving every day.

Adventist Health wants to rock the health-care world — or at least its patients' worlds. "Innovation Everywhere" has become a call to action for employees across the four-state system.

How does AH define innovation? According to JoAline Olson, vice president for innovations, it is the "introduction of new processes, products, services, systems, organizational structures or business models consistent with our mission."

The Blue Pillowcase

AH hospitals in the Northwest have taken up the call and are becoming innovative in more ways than one. When Adventist Medical Center, in Portland, Ore., wanted to decrease the rate of ventilator-acquired pneumonia cases, staff got innovative.

A respiratory therapist noted when a patient was cleaned and turned, all pillows were removed from the bed and then replaced. But how could staff know the pillow supporting the patient's back or between the legs was not placed later under his or her head? Could germs and bacteria travel to the patient from a contaminated pillow?

The idea was to use blue pillowcases only for the head. Using this method, patients would not be exposed to bacteria from other parts of their bodies. Today, nurses as a rule put blue pillowcases under patients' heads and replace the pillow with a blue pillowcase when changing linen. This innovative idea was implemented along with previously identified best practices and there have been no ventilator-acquired pneumonia cases since.

Plant a Seed

To ignite excitement for hospital innovations and to cultivate new ideas, the Innovations Council, AH's committee to help spread innovation throughout the system, offered seed money for new ideas to be implemented.

Earlier this spring, the council received 25 proposals from six different hospitals, clinics and the corporate office. In June, they awarded a total of $250,000 to six proposals best representing innovative concepts that assist in accomplishing the system's strategic initiatives and which could be duplicated at other locations throughout the system.

AMC-P was awarded $75,000 to help fund the development of a new leading edge health plan product that will encourage active participation by health plan members, to lead to healthier living and more efficient delivery of health and wellness services.

A Reason to Innovate

AH isn't just trying to innovate to increase revenues or become better known. Innovation is an organization-wide culture change, affecting employees and patients. Innovation at AH is about collaboration and diffusing ideas from one care site to another.

"By spreading successful innovations throughout our hospitals, we can develop a deep and enduring capability for innovation in our organization," says Olson. "Our patients will ultimately reap the benefits of this innovative culture shift."

Sidebar: is now ready for your on-the-go needs. Visitors to the mobile site will find:

Adventist Health Description/Facts

Directions and Phone Numbers to AH Hospitals

Career Information

Latest AH News

Link to the Main Site

Use the QR code to view the mobile site on your smart phone. The site can also be viewed on your computer browser, though the appearance will be slightly different from what is shown on your smart phone.

September 01, 2011 / Adventist Health

Brittany Russell Dobbs, Adventist Health GLEANER correspondent