Promoting Innovation in EMS

resources to nurture the right idea and allow it to grow into something that brings value to others. The innovator must capture some of that value for it to be sustainable.

capital. By unleashing the creativity and passion of the workforce, it may be possible to generate new ideas, valuable services or develop ways to improve the patient experience. Constantly Engage New Partners EMS is one part of a greater health care and public safety infrastructure. The patient experience is not limited to the time a patient spends in the back of an ambulance, and thus the innovative EMS leader should look beyond the boundaries of the EMS agency to understand the needs of patients and the community, recognize which needs are not being met, and consider possible solutions. The best solution may or may not be one that EMS is best positioned to offer. The best solutions are often those that require interdisciplinary collaborations. Planning for Sustainability A major challenge of innovation in EMS is that it usually produces value that is difficult to capture, especially in a reimbursement environment that only rewards transportation. Often, an innovative EMS agency launches a pilot program to demonstrate proof of concept, either through a grant or through self-funding. Due to lack of planning for sustainability, many of these pilot programs have to be cut when funding runs out, even if they seemed to or were even proven to provide significant value to the community. If an innovation creates value for patients, communities, health plans, or hospitals, the EMS agency must have a plan from the beginning to measure and capture that value, or it risks providing a valuable service only temporarily. Use Data to Demonstrate Value Having data to support the need for a new good or service is often a critical element of convincing others of the potential value that an innovation might generate. It is often necessary prior to

The idea is only the beginning!

Fostering a Culture of Innovation Steve Jobs was generally considered one of the most successful innovators of his lifetime. His success did not come from great technical knowledge, but rather from an unparalleled ability to know what the customer wanted before the customer did. When his technical expertise was questioned, he famously replied, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backward to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where you’re going to try to sell it.” 10 Both medicine and EMS often fall into the trap of trying to build up a patient care model starting with pathophysiology, technology, and therapeutics. EMS leadership and providers should instead start by asking, “What gaps currently exist in the way our patients are served by the EMS system? By the health care system at large?” A system built around the patient experience will often produce results that improve care, lower costs, increase access, and be sustainable.

Empower Your Workforce to be Entrepreneurs Innovation does not always originate from

leadership. It is often those who work with patients every day who are most acutely aware of gaps in patient care and difficulties in providing services. Inspiring leaders are those who seek to promote a culture where all members of the team are welcome or even encouraged to pursue knowledge, gain insight, and question existing structures. The best resource of any organization is its human

10 Carson, Biz. “Steve Jobs’ reaction to this insult shows why he was such a great CEO.” Business Insider. October 22, 2015. Accessed September 21, 2016.




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