Pullman Regional Hospital’s Center for Innovation & Learning
Becky Highfill – Center for Innovation & Learning (CLI)
Small businesses are not the only place where entrepreneurship thrives. Entrepreneurs, in fact, can be found throughout organizations big and small, from just-launched businesses with a brilliant idea to the halls of the biggest corporation.
They can also be found in the halls of local hospitals, where their ideas can help improve protocols, treat patients, and invent innovative ways to approach illness, injuries and treatment. After all, entrepreneurship and innovation go hand-in-hand.
That’s why Pullman Regional Hospital’s Center for Innovation & Learning, or CLI, has partnered with the Palouse Knowledge Corridor’s™ Be the Entrepreneur Bootcamp™ from the beginning, first sending its own employees to the camp on scholarships and now functioning as a supporter of the five-day camp.
Innovation In Action
“Innovation is a broad concept, and you don’t have to look far, especially at Pullman Regional Hospital, to see innovation in action,” said Becky Highfill, the director of the CLI. “Innovation in health care is vital in this day and age, with the ever-changing environment of health care. There’s something different every year, from federal funding changes and how that impacts rural healthcare to changes in care delivery, we have to be innovative so that we are taking a proactive role and ensuring the best care for our patients.”
The CLI was established in 2013 to explore alternative models of care delivery and prevention of illness, according to the hospital’s website. The Center specifically focuses five priority areas: The Patient Experience, Population Health, Clinical Scholars, Personal Enrichment, and Leadership Development. The mission is to provide more cost-effective methods to maintain health, thus decreasing the cost of healthcare in the region. All of those efforts are, by definition, innovative, in that they are solving old problems in new ways.
In the CLI’s early days, a few employees brought forth ideas, potentially marketing products to patients and consumers. Partnering with the BTE Bootcamp™ provided an avenue to do just that.
“It’s been great for employees to have the opportunity to bring those ideas forward in this organization, and to help facilitate a ‘next step’ for them,” Highfill said of employee engagement in the camp. “Providing institutional support is a testament of Pullman Regional Hospital’s culture of supporting the staff.”
Entrepreneurship And Pullman Regional Hospital (PRH)
Although entrepreneurship is important inside PRH’s walls and in medicine, its value extends into the communities where its providers live and play. After all, a thriving local economy helps attract and retain high-quality employees, who might not otherwise land in a rural region like the Palouse.
“Entrepreneurship and a healthy business community makes our area more robust and attractive,” Highfill said. “This supports recruitment and retention efforts of both physicians and care providers, which helps the hospital better serve patients.”
Other regional partnerships will help in that effort too, Highfill predicts. Washington State University’s new Elson S. Floyd School of Medicine, which will accept its first class this fall in Spokane, may bring young doctors-in-training to the hospital.
“We see our hospital and health care community as a great teaching ground for medical students,” Highfill said. Although PRH is not currently a teaching hospital, it offers internships and practicums to nursing students from multiple schools in the region, and its doctors and nurses are eager to be part of training the next generation of providers.
On-Site Research Data
As a rural health care provider in a highly educated community, PRH’s employees are also poised to contribute to other research and innovation inside and outside of the hospital. PRH has developed a fellowship program for WSU faculty to conduct research on-site at PRH.
“We can provide researchers real-life situations and access to data that validates their research,” Highfill said. “We’re really hoping to expand collaboration with other entities in our community and promote the growth of innovation. The BTE Bootcamp™ experience adds great value to the process of bringing an idea to reality. Our role is to provide resources for entrepreneurs and researchers.”
Those resources aren’t just funding, she said — it’s also staff time, qualitative and quantitative data, and other potential information sources and activities.
“At the end of the day, the goal of the Center for Learning and Innovation is to help hospital employees and the community be healthier through new approaches,” said Highfill.