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Powerhouse Organization Launches for Chief Innovation Officers

By Mandy Roth  
   October 30, 2018

With members from high-profile health systems, HIPS has the potential to become a collective industry force to accelerate healthcare innovation.  

As innovation becomes an increasingly important function at many health systems, an exclusive professional organization has formed to provide a supportive community for the chief innovation officers who lead the charge of innovation at not-for-profit organizations.

Healthcare Innovators Professional Society (HIPS), composed of innovation leaders from 36 of the nation's most prominent health systems, including UPMC, Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Intermountain Healthcare, and other high-profile systems, recently convened for the first time in Houston.

With members representing one of every five U.S. hospitals, HIPS is a powerhouse that has the potential to become a collective force in the industry—a forum where ideas will be shared and collaborative deals will begin—a nexus that could accelerate the process of innovation throughout the healthcare system.

Membership is by invitation only and the group may only add another five members in the coming year, according to founder Toby Hamilton, MD. As an innovator himself, Hamilton saw a void in the professional landscape for a group that addresses the needs of chief innovation and transformation officers. HIPS, he says, is the first and only professional, nonpartisan, non-profit community for innovation leaders, offering advocacy, recognition, and a supportive community.

Mutual Challenges to Innovation

In addition to exchanging ideas, leaders attending the Houston meeting discovered they shared the following mutual challenges, according to Hamilton, who serves as executive director of HIPS:

  • The perception that innovation is supplemental and non-profit hospitals can only fund it in the best of economic times
  • A definition of innovation in many healthcare settings that narrowly focuses on opportunistic new technologies instead of strategic, long-term approaches
  • A wide variation in innovation roles from one healthcare system to another, often with a lack of understanding of the role, which limits the innovator's ability to create change across the system

Hamilton shared with HealthLeaders why he formed the organization, what HIPS hopes to accomplish, and the benefits of a limited group.

How HIPS Can Move Healthcare Forward

HealthLeaders: What inspired you to establish this organization?

Toby Hamilton, MD: In building a healthcare business, I had the opportunity to interact with chief innovation officers from a lot of major healthcare systems. The role is still new and evolving, and often varies [between] healthcare systems. In working with these executives, I noticed that they often encountered similar challenges in their respective organizations but didn’t have an organization of their own where they could talk to others in similar positions who could provide insight. I believed that the pace of innovation could go faster if these executives had access to a non-competitive network of peers with whom they could informally share thoughts and ideas, and work collectively to create solutions.

HL: How did you decide who to invite?

Hamilton: There are many worthy candidates in the industry and we are pleased with the group that responded so enthusiastically to the opportunity. By design, we wanted a group that was large enough to create change yet small enough to work together effectively. In addition, we wanted representation from large healthcare systems across the country, to ensure the healthcare landscape was broadly represented and the impact was significant. We were also sensitive to competitive considerations among members to ensure they would feel comfortable sharing and participating with their peers. There were a lot of considerations in forming the membership, and we are so pleased with the distinguished roster of councilors who make up HIPS. 

HL: How will HIPS accelerate the process of innovation at health systems? 

Hamilton: There were new relationships formed at the recent HIPS conference and, generally, a lot of alignment around the importance of a peer-to-peer network for leading healthcare innovators to exchange ideas and information, and work together, where possible, to move forward the pace of innovation. During the conference, we saw the beginnings of this during several small group discussions among councilors looking at shared challenges and discussing trends and innovations on their radar screen. We’re confident these relationships will continue and, while HIPS is still in its early stages, we know the councilors see a lot of value. Because these executive positions are so new to the healthcare landscape, the work they are doing is often done in a silo. HIPS allows them to step out of their silos and begin to work towards shared solutions. 

HL: Is HIPS membership now closed or will you consider adding additional members?

Hamilton: We feel that the size and membership of the HIPS Council works well at present. There were important relationships formed as a result of the very rich discussions at the conference. We may add a few members (less than five) for the coming year, but at present, we first want to work with the network and platform we have created with the existing membership, which represents one of every four hospital beds in the U.S. Members are nominated and selected by the leadership, and if we add a few members, they will go through the same process. We always welcome input from outside parties who feel someone in their organization should be a member.

Exclusive Membership

Council members include chief innovation officers and chief transformation officers from the following organizations:

  1. Atrium Health
  2. Baptist Memorial Health Care
  3. Baylor Scott & White Health
  4. BJC Healthcare/Washington University School of Medicine
  5. CHI Franciscan
  6. Children's Hospital Los Angeles
  7. Children's National Health System
  8. Cleveland Clinic
  9. Dignity Health
  10. Geisinger
  11. Houston Methodist
  12. INTEGRIS Health
  13. Intermountain Healthcare
  14. Kaiser Permanente
  15. Kindred Healthcare
  16. Legacy Health
  17. Mayo Clinic
  18. MD Anderson Cancer Center
  19. MedStar Health
  20. Memorial Hermann Health System
  21. Mount Sinai
  22. NewYork-Presbyterian
  23. NYU Langone Health
  24. Ochsner Health System
  25. Partners HealthCare
  26. PeaceHealth
  27. Penn Medicine
  28. ProMedica
  29. Texas Medical Center Innovation Institute
  30. UC San Diego Health
  31. UCHealth
  32. UnityPoint Health
  33. University of Alabama at Birmingham Health System
  34. University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
  35. UPMC
  36. Wake Forest Baptist Health

Mandy Roth is the innovations editor at HealthLeaders.

Photo credit: iStock Photo


Exclusive, invitation-only group includes representatives from leading non-profit health systems.

Members represent one of every five U.S. hospitals and one in every four hospital beds.

Pace of healthcare innovation could accelerate through this network.

HIPS offers a forum and supportive community for professionals in the emerging leadership role of chief innovation or chief transformation officer.

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