Category Archives: Disruptive innovations

Jul 3 2014

Reengineering Medical Product Innovation

Arthur Kellermann, MD, MPH, an alumnus of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Clinical Scholars and Health Policy Fellows programs, is professor and dean of the F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD. He is co-author of the new RAND report, “Redirecting Innovation in U.S. Health Care: Options to Decrease Spending and Increase Value.” Here, he shares recommendations for a brave new world of medical technology.


Americans take justifiable pride in our capacity for innovation. From putting the first men on the moon to developing the Internet, we lead the world in developing innovative technologies. Health care is no exception. The United States holds more Nobel prizes in medicine than any other nation.

Novel drugs, biologics, diagnostics, and medical devices have transformed American health care, but not always for the better.

Some innovations have made a big difference. Combination antiretroviral therapy changed HIV infection from a death sentence to a treatable, chronic disease. Before an effective vaccine was developed, Hemophilus Influenze type b, a bacterial disease, was a major cause of death and mental disability in young children. Today, it is virtually eradicated here and in Western Europe.

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Oct 21 2013

RWJF Scholars & Fellows Speak: What’s a Culture of Health? What Does It Take to Get There?

Linda Wright Moore, MS, is a senior communications officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

Linda Wright-Moore

Developing a vision for a national “culture of health” has been central to internal discussions at the Foundation, as we’ve engaged in a deliberative process of strategic planning for the future.

For the past year since marking our 40th anniversary, we’ve been asking ourselves where we should set our sights and focus our energies in a rapidly changing world, in order to advance our mission to improve health and health care for all.  Consider: the population is aging, becoming more diverse. Technological advances are transforming how we communicate, how we provide health care, and more. “Big data” is making once tedious and time-consuming calculations and analysis routine. Out of our deliberations—a new vision of the way forward has emerged, presented in the 2013 President’s Message from Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA: "We, as a nation, will strive together to create a culture of health enabling all in our diverse society to lead healthy lives, now and for generations to come."

To begin to informally road test that vision, we posed a question to RWJF grantees and alumni at an RWJF-sponsored reception at the AcademyHealth meeting in Baltimore last summer. In impromptu interviews, we asked, “What is a culture of health? What does it take to get there?

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Sep 23 2013

Primary Care on the Front Lines of Innovation

Maryjoan Ladden, PhD, RN, FAAN, is a senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Maryjoan Ladden / RWJF

During a recent visit to my adopted home state of Massachusetts, I took a fresh look at a primary care practice I had previously known only from afar. I was part of the team visiting Cambridge Health Alliance–Union Square Family Health, which is one of 30 primary care practices recognized as exemplar models for workforce innovation by The Primary Care Team: Learning From Effective Ambulatory Practices (LEAP) project. This project, a new initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the MacColl Center at Group Health Research Institute, is studying these 30 practice sites to identify new strategies in workforce development and interprofessional collaboration. The overarching goal of LEAP is to better understand the innovative models that make primary care more efficient, effective, and satisfying to both patients and providers, and ultimately lead to improved patient outcomes.

This site visit took me back to my time as a nurse practitioner at Boston Medical Center, Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, and Boston’s school-based health centers. This is where my passion for primary care began. As we prepare for millions more Americans to enter the health care system in the coming year, we must identify ways to expand access to primary care, improve the quality of care, and control costs. One important way is by exploring how to optimize the varied and expansive skill sets of all members of the primary care team. This idea has been examined in medical and popular media, but there has been little study of the workforce innovations employed by primary care practices to meet the increasing demands for health care.

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May 6 2013

Happy National Nurses Week!

Susan B. Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, is senior adviser for nursing at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and director of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action.


National Nurses Week begins today, May 6, and runs through Sunday, May 12, which is Florence Nightingale’s birthday. The theme for the week this year is: delivering quality and innovation in patient care.


It’s a wonderful theme, because nurses do even more than deliver high-quality patient care. Nurses conduct groundbreaking science and discovery, develop innovations that improve the quality of care, provide primary care, help patients and their families avoid and manage illness, teach at community colleges and universities, shape public policies, serve in the military, help when there are disasters, run large health organizations, and much more.

Since it opened its doors 40 years ago, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has recognized that, which is why it has invested more than $580 million in nursing over the last four decades. That investment continues today, with support to our programs that prepare the next generation of nurse faculty, support nurse research, promote nursing leaders, and more.

The Institute of Medicine, too, recognized nurses’ many contributions to improving health care in this country in its groundbreaking 2010 report. That is why the report called for a more highly educated nursing workforce, more support for nurse-led research, and more nurses in leadership roles of all kinds, from the front lines to the board room. The Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action is working to implement those and other recommendations from that report.

This week on this blog, you will be able to learn more about it and read about some of the innovative work that nurses around the country are doing. This is one of my favorite weeks of the year, because it provides us an opportunity to really showcase nurses’ work. Enjoy!