Leveraging novel ideas to improve health care

October 17, 2011, Indiana University School of Medicine

Integrating some of the best new practices of industry into the strengths of the academic research process, the Regenstrief Institute is launching an initiative to encourage and propel innovation. The Institute has over 40 years of experience as an international leader in improving healthcare delivery.

The program will focus on enhancements in the Institute's working environment and advancements in providing higher quality, lower cost health care, encouraging revolutionary change, not incremental steps. It will encourage research teams to work together to develop high risk, high reward ideas that, if they come to fruition, could disrupt current approaches to perplexing problems.

"Innovation is our core business," said Regenstrief Institute President and CEO, William Tierney, M.D., discussing the new initiative. "Having worked out ideas, proven feasibility, and obtained pilot data will give our investigators a leg up on their peers in competing for increasingly scarce research dollars."

Supported by a $500,000 grant from the Regenstrief Foundation, the innovation program is being led by Institute Investigator Jon Duke, M.D., who has been named the Institute's first Innovation Officer. The program commences this autumn with a call for promising proposals from across the Institute.

"We are encouraging everyone associated with the Institute to come forth with ideas. Traditionally researchers develop ideas and then pursue funding. Learning from successful organizations such as , and Netflix, we are both accelerating and democratizing the idea process. We are encouraging everyone, from established researchers to fellows-in-training to to research assistants to affiliated clinicians to let us know what they think has potential," said Dr. Duke, an internist and informatics specialist.

Highly respected for long-time leadership in the fields of medical informatics, aging and health services research and for the practical application of this research to real world needs, Regenstrief's staff, faculty, fellows and affiliated scientists include representatives of numerous disciplines including medical informatics, geriatrics, general internal medicine, pediatrics, family medicine, public health, emergency medicine, gastroenterology, psychiatry, sociology, economics, medical ethics, global health, business and a variety of engineering disciplines including software and human factors engineering.

The established external academic grant review process typically takes nine to 18 months from time of submission to funding, if approved. Regenstrief's new innovation process solicits creative ideas that might not be proposed or considered for traditional grant funding and allows Regenstrief investigators to prove the feasibility of ideas before submitting more substantial proposals to funding agencies.

With the innovation initiative Regenstrief is bridging the gap between academic discovery and the more applied realm of corporate research and development – or as Dr. Duke said," We are focusing on the application of good ideas. We want to be truly disruptive – both by encouraging expansion of who is bringing ideas to the table and by taking both small steps and big leaps in the delivery of care."

On Nov. 2, the Institute will hold its initial innovation fair during which members of the Regenstrief community – individually or in groups -- will present their most promising ideas. Colleagues will review proposals and select those ideas they believe should advance to evaluation for funding.

Dr. Duke is an assistant professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Dr. Tierney is associate dean for clinical effectiveness research and Chancellor's Professor at the IU School of Medicine. The Regenstrief Institute and the IU School of Medicine are located on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

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