Healthcare Innovation and Pharmacy

By Jeffrey Little posted 05-16-2016 17:29


If you pay very close attention to trends in healthcare, you have likely noticed the term “innovation” becoming ever more popular. Many hospitals and health systems have created their own innovation centers or departments. Here are just a few examples:



These are not necessarily new. For instance, Cleveland Clinic Innovations will be hosting its 14th annual Medical Innovation Summit in October 2016. However, the rapid amount of change in healthcare recently has led to a concerted effort across healthcare to look for innovative ways to do things. Factors such as changing payment models, decreasing reimbursement, and increasing regulatory pressures have forced health systems to try new things.


This can be seen clearly in the Futurescan report. The Futurescan is a joint publication between the Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development of the American Hospital Association and the American College of Healthcare Executives. The 2016-2021 report includes a whole chapter on the growth of innovation programs and accelerators1. The chapter on innovation lists four principal goals for health systems considering innovation opportunities:


  • Financial returns
  • Operations improvement
  • Brand enhancement
  • Foster innovation


Though healthcare practitioners may think of innovation as finding creative ways to improve patient care, the Futurescan report highlights how healthcare executives really look at innovation beyond the frame of patient care efficiency to look for market disruptions. The chapter discusses how health systems in the future will partner with vendors, third party accelerators, and even invest their funds into firms to try and gain new revenue from innovative ideas which can be sold outside of the health system.


Recognizing the importance of innovation for successful healthcare organizations, the ASHP Section of Pharmacy Practice Managers recently created a new Section Advisory Group on Innovation Management whose charge is to advise pharmacy leaders on how to start new strategic initiatives, building and exploiting many transient advantages at once. The group is working to develop resources for creating and advancing innovative pharmacy practice models, for contemporary topics including the ASHP Foundation’s Pharmacy Forecast reports, and for evolving reimbursement and payment systems. The group has been working to identify and highlight examples of innovative pharmacy practices.

One resource is a recent C.E. webinar the Advisory Group organized which is now available from ASHP for recorded C.E. titled “Innovation in Pharmacy Practice: Engaging Successfully in Health System Innovation Efforts”: 


Please comment below if you have examples of innovative pharmacy practices. In particular, it would be very interesting to hear of examples where a pharmacy department worked with a health system to create an innovation which led to change external to the health system.


The current healthcare climate is well suited to the entrepreneurial spirit which traditionally has been more associated with our independent community pharmacy colleagues. It is a very exciting time for the profession – hopefully we can seize the opportunity!



Jeff Little, Pharm.D., MPH, BCPS

Director of Pharmacy

Saint Luke's Hospital

Kansas City, MO