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Calling for Problems: What Did We Hear? What’s Next?

Jan 24, 2013, 11:30 AM, Posted by Brian C. Quinn

Brian Quinn, assistant vice president, Research and Evaluation Brian Quinn, assistant vice president, Research and Evaluation

In December, we asked our readers to tell us about the health care problems they felt were most in need of innovation—the tough problems, the crucial ones, maybe even those they’d seen firsthand. The number of comments we received was encouraging. It has also challenged our thinking, and generated a great deal of discussion on our team.

One thing is certain: The conversation that ensued from that post confirmed that our team needs to do more listening—listening to patients, caregivers, health care professionals, innovators, thought leaders—the list goes on and on.

We saw some common themes in the problems you shared. A few of them are reflected in areas in which the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is already working. Clearly there are problems that, despite the intensive efforts of many really smart people, resist conventional solutions. Other themes showed us how important it is to always be examining what we’re doing from perspectives other than our own. 

So where do we go from here?  

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Calling for Problems

Dec 14, 2012, 9:15 AM, Posted by Brian C. Quinn

Brian Quinn Brian Quinn

In the Pioneer Portfolio, we’re all about ideas—big ones and little ones—the ones that will help solve some of the toughest problems in health and health care. We have clearly articulated our strategy for investing in innovations and innovators who have the potential to transform areas such as the health care delivery system, the patient-provider relationship, and the education of health care professionals. That strategy has yielded some significant breakthroughs, and the hope for much more to come. 

But we’re still missing a big piece of the puzzle. Why? Because right now, we only hear from the folks who have solutions to offer. That approach, by its very nature, limits the number of problems we know about. Those of us who work on the Pioneer team only see health care from the proverbial 30,000-foot vantage point. We are not on the front lines, so we don’t see firsthand the issues health care providers, patients, and families struggle with every single day.

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What is a Pioneering Idea?

Sep 17, 2012, 3:09 PM, Posted by Pioneer Blog Team

As we re-launch the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s website and the Pioneering Ideas blog, it is a good time to pause and take stock of Pioneer’s role--and, a question we get asked often: What is a pioneering idea?

Most of what the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation does is sharply focused on four targeted issues—childhood obesity, the quality and equality of health care, public health, and access to health care insurance—and two critical population groups—vulnerable populations and human capital.

The Pioneer Portfolio has a unique, but complementary, mandate. We seek to identify and explore new ideas and approaches that help shape the future of health and health care. We are dedicated to finding the next new idea – whether it is a game-changer that accelerates a breakthrough or an initial exploration into a new area. So what makes the cut? Why do we fund the ideas we do, and where do we go to find them?

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Pioneer Grantees Present Game-Changing Ideas at 12gurus: Health Conference

Apr 12, 2012, 2:02 AM, Posted by Pioneer Blog Team

Last month’s 12gurus: Health conference brought “resources and innovation to the forefront” by convening the world’s most accomplished leaders in health care and medicine to share new ideas that can improve the health care system. The conference focused on how to enable innovation through research, data-sharing, and mobile technology to pave the way for future breakthroughs in health care.

Three former and current Pioneer grantees attended the invitation-only conference in New York City and gave 18-minute-or-less “TED.com-style” talks:

  • Scott Johnson, president and founder of the Myelin Repair Foundation, presented the session, “Breaking from the Past to Breakthrough to Cures-Accelerated Collaboration Model.” Learn more about Scott’s recent honor as the recipient of the prestigious Gordon and Llura Gund Leadership Award from Research!America.

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Pioneer Grantees Named to HealthLeaders Media's 20 People Who Make Health Care Better

Dec 27, 2011, 8:28 AM, Posted by Pioneer Blog Team

HealthLeaders Media identified 20 individuals to tell their stories of how they are changing health care for the better in its annual HealthLeaders 20 issue. Two grantees of the Pioneer Portfolio are included in this prestigious honor.

Clayton Christensen is often referred to as the father of disruptive innovation, the concept that new technologies have the potential to turn an industry upside down—but they may be difficult for established organizations to adopt. In 2011, Christensen and his team at Innosight Institute published a Pioneer-funded case study series on disruptive innovations within integrated health systems. In the summary report, researchers investigated how the seven integrated health systems think, act and innovate differently.

Nicholas A. Christakis is a well-established name in the science of human connectivity and social networks. In 2011, Christakis’ innovative Pioneer-funded research looked into how humans interact and coordinate in response to the behavior of one’s social partners in an article published in Science and in this profile.

We’re proud to call these innovating movers and shakers part of the Pioneer family. They, like all of us, are working to make a difference in health care. We encourage you to congratulate Christensen and Christakis (through his book Connected) on Twitter.