Connect. Design. Enable.

Building an In-House Innovation Accelerator

Connect. Design. Enable.


Guest Post Written By Nolan Meyer.


In medicine, dynamic environments demand innovative solutions. With today’s ever-changing patient base, innovation is a requirement to remain in the forefront of healthcare. Health solutions are the results of efforts to change medicine for the better. Innovative medical solutions enable pioneering institutions like the Mayo Clinic to provide efficient care to a growing group of patients. As usual, the Mayo Clinic has taken the initiative in setting this trend of innovation.

The Center for Innovation’s CoDE program incubates and accelerates ideas from teams of Mayo Clinic employees with innovative ideas. CoDE is short for Connect-Design-Enable. It is an innovation accelerator for Mayo Clinic employees. Every year, the Mayo Clinic accepts applications from teams of its employees who want to see their innovative ideas become reality. Teams who are accepted are absorbed into the Center for Innovation for a year, and their ideas are “incubated.” According to Jim, incubation involves training, coaching, and supporting the team—helping it to develop its idea. Key players and investors are brought in to facilitate the process. Ultimately, the team members are sent back to their respective departments with knowledge on how to put forth a viable product that can be used by patients. In short, the CoDE program turns an idea into a prototype. Speaking of the merits of CoDE, Jim Pringnitz says,

Working with CoDE teams has been great because the teams we have worked with are so enthusiastic about it. It’s a match to their own strengths and passions. As we go back and hear stories from past CoDE projects, we have found that a lot of project teams have had spinoff projects where they incorporate their understanding of the process of innovation.

Innovation and the future of Health Care.

According to Jim, the CoDE program isn’t necessarily centered upon enjoying returns from investments as it is about enhancing patient care at the Mayo Clinic. Much of the basis for CoDE lies in altruism and a mission-driven philosophy. Removing teams from their respective departments and absorbing them within the CFI for a year is not a small expenditure of resources, but its ultimate rewards allow the Mayo Clinic to continue to shine brightly as a world-class healthcare institution. The CoDE program is an example of how the Mayo Clinic produces innovation from within. Jim contends,

 "Real innovation takes time, and that’s the beauty of the CoDE program. It’s not as much about return on investment—the payoff comes from better patient care. To do that, we want to tap into that human passion of somebody having an idea that they really believe needs to exist above anything else."

Innovative solutions will be a central theme in the ongoing evolution of healthcare. Rest assured that the Mayo Clinic is already heavily involved in innovating medicine through its Center for Innovation. The CFI’s involvement in the incubation and acceleration of projects through the CoDE program is an example of how the Mayo Clinic is leading the field in healthcare innovation. According to Jim Pringnitz, the ultimate goal of these projects is what has kept the Mayo Clinic shining so brightly through the years: the continual improvement of patient care.



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