Creating Value for Patients at Akron Children’s Hospital

Posted on by CATALYSIS

We’ve so often heard the phrase, “innovation can mean different things to different people, different organizations.” No matter how one defines it, the truth of the matter is, innovation is needed in order to grow and evolve the business. It’s no wonder that in most organizations innovation spins off of improvement work or the improvement departments within many organizations. Afterall, they are the ones who help to muscle along that thought process within an organization. On a recent afternoon, Peter Mariahazy, Chief Administrative Office for Catalysis’ and the host of our podcast, The Lens, had the opportunity to sit down with Akron Children’s Hospital’s Chief Innovation Officer, Stefan Agamanolis, and also their Innovation Manager, Mike Antochow to discuss the innovation process at Akron Children’s Hospital and how it truly connects and demonstrates the lean principle of Creating Value for the Customer. Below are excerpts from their discussion:

Peter Mariahazy: “So, innovation can mean so many different things, help us understand, what does innovation mean at Akron Children's and why do you do it?”

Stefan Agamanolis: “…we’re trying to put out messaging as often as possible within the hospital that innovation at Akron Children's is about ideas plus action for the benefit of children and families…helping people understand that it's about more than just having an idea. It's about bringing that idea to life in some way to benefit the party.

Peter Mariahazy: So how are improvement work and innovation work, the same or different?

Mike Antochow: So, just like any operational excellence improvement work that many of the members engage in, there's a lot that's similar with innovation. So, within innovation, we’ll go through three different stages: discovery, development, and commercialization.

Within discovery, it's a lot like when you're starting up an operational excellence project. You're going out to the gemba, you're getting voice of the customer, you're getting an understanding of what the issue might be.

Within development, we are creating prototypes, making iterations on those prototypes. It's a lot like PDSA you're going through various different cycles, to understand a little bit more about the process or the product that you have. And then, finally, commercialization. When we're trying to get something out the door there's a number of different things that you need to engage in to get that product out there to the public, and very similarly with improvement projects, there's a lot of work that you have to do to get a new process launched within the organization. So, there's a lot of similarities there, maybe one of the key differences is that there's a lot of networking that you do within your own organization, with regards to operational excellence, but when it comes to innovation there's going to be a lot of external networking that you need to do to make a product commercialized.

Peter Mariahazy: Sounds like a very iterative process there's a lot of cycles there. Mike, you presented to network Members about new innovative products and, specifically, the air quick emergency trach supply caddy…tell us about it, so it's a real case study. It's a real-world example of how. Tell us a little bit about how this product came to be.

Mike Antochow: Yeah, the air quick supply has quite an interesting story. So, a volunteer, her name is Joanna Bird. She had a very impactful interaction with a patient family who talked about how for their child, they have a trach, and, in order to be able to do an emergency trach swap, the family would have to search for supplies for their child. And, of course, you know, in the lean world that's a lot of wasted motion and inventory movement that they'd have to go through. So, the idea was, “well what if she created a caddy that would house just the supplies that one would need?”  So doing a little bit of 5S on the supplies that the family was carrying around and came up with this caddy that gets you to the supplies that you need quickly and then that would provide the needed air that the patient needs. So, it's a really cool thing that she created. We decided we wanted to then try to produce this for the rest of the world. In working with a manufacturer, we went through some iterations of the product itself and then created a small batch that we then made available via our website. We came up with packaging for it, also through a larger distributor site. So, yeah, there's a lot of great work that ended up happening just to make the product viable and then ultimately ready for commercialization.

Stefan Agamanolis: And so, I would say, part of our function in the innovation Center here, and probably in other institutions, is just to kind of keep the momentum moving, keep folks involved and keep something moving forward, even in those parts where it feels like it's you know, light years away from being done.

Mike Antochow: And that is a lot of fun to see somebody’s dreams coming to life… to see that idea that somebody had long ago now is available to hopefully add value to a patient or families’ lives, that's really a gift that I can't even begin to calculate.

Stefan Agamanolis: I think I would just add to what Mike said, you know that this work is really fulfilling for us. I think, because we see the fulfillment in others, that we can help to propel. We've got such a creative workforce at our hospital and we certainly see it as a major part of our function to unlock that creative potential and unlock the entrepreneurial tendencies of anyone that's out there. And. you know, if we can support them in delivering great patient care, changing the world and other ways through innovation through bringing new products to market that that allows us to expand our impact on patient care and then the health of children far beyond our immediate region.

To hear their full discussion and more details of the innovation being done work at Akron Children’s Hospital, subscribe to our podcast and check out their episode which will include more in-depth discussion and details


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