The biggest problem most health systems face is not a lack of good ideas, but a lack of opportunity for employees to express those ideas. Every year, Northwell Health puts forth an open call to our employees to submit innovative ideas they think can significantly improve patient care or our day-to-day efficiency.
Our efforts to tap into the creativity that exists within all health care organizations date back more than a decade ago, when we launched an initiative called the "Idea Forum" to solicit suggestions from our employees about how to improve efficiency and save money.
We were flooded with a plethora of good ideas that came from employees at all levels of the organization, from the laundry crew and maintenance teams to departmental heads.
Recognizing the gold mine of innovation that rests within the minds of our employees, we created a "President's Award for Innovation" in 2007 to honor individuals and teams for their pioneering ideas at our health system's Annual Meeting. Beginning in 2017, we pushed our culture of innovation a step further by holding what we call a Made for Big Ideas showcase, where we hold an "Innovation Challenge" modeled after the Shark Tank TV show.
Each year, we put out a request to all employees for innovative ideas that could potentially be spun off into a commercial venture or standalone business. A committee of Northwell leaders involved in both our clinical operations and our venture capital fund reviews and selects what they consider the top ideas, which are then presented to a panel of external judges. Similar to the TV show, the panel receives a written proposal about each idea and the employees have five minutes to give their best sales pitch and answer questions about how their ideas could impact the health system or be transitioned into legitimate businesses. These presentations are filmed and broadcast throughout our health system. The judges select one winner and a first runner-up, each of whom receive a $500,000 investment, while the next two runners-up each receive $100,000 to further advance their ideas.
The showcase has undoubtedly fostered a culture of innovation across our organization, providing us with ideas we would not have otherwise received, but it also enhances employee morale. This kind of engagement makes employees feel like their talents and knowledge are recognized and appreciated, and encourages them to look at their daily responsibilities through a creative lens. The most influential and out-of-the-box ideas often come from people who are involved in the day-in and day-out delivery of patient care.