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Fostering Innovation in Medicine and Health Care: What Must Academic Health Centers Do?

Dzau, Victor J. MD; Yoediono, Ziggy MD, MBA; ElLaissi, William F. MBA, MHA; Cho, Alex H. MD, MBA

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3182a32fc2

There is a real need for innovation in health care delivery, as well as in medicine, to address related challenges of access, quality, and affordability through new and creative approaches. Health care environments must foster innovation, not just allowing it but actively encouraging it to happen anywhere and at every level in health care and medicine—from the laboratory, to the operating room, bedside, and clinics. This paper reviews the essential elements and environmental factors important for health-related innovation to flourish in academic health systems.

The authors maintain that innovation must be actively cultivated by teaching it, creating “space” for and supporting it, and providing opportunities for its implementation. The authors seek to show the importance of these three fundamental principles and how they can be implemented, highlighting examples from across the country and their own institution.

Health innovation cannot be relegated to a second-class status by the urgency of day-to-day operations, patient care, and the requirements of traditional research. Innovation needs to be elevated to a committed endeavor and become a part of an organization’s culture, particularly in academic health centers.

Dr. Dzau is chancellor for health affairs and James B. Duke Professor of Medicine, Duke University, and president and CEO, Duke University Health System, Durham, North Carolina.

Dr. Yoediono is a writer and former special assistant to the chancellor for health affairs, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.

Mr. ElLaissi is special assistant to the chancellor for health affairs, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.

Dr. Cho is assistant professor of medicine, Duke University, and director, Innovation Development, Evaluation, and Applications (IDEAs) Group, Duke University Health System, Durham, North Carolina.

Funding/Support: This work is made possible through the generous support of Karl von der Heyden and the continuing support of the Duke Endowment.

Other disclosures: None.

Ethical approval: Not applicable.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Dzau, Office of the Chancellor, DUMC Box 3701, Durham, NC 27710; telephone: (919) 684-2255; fax: (919) 681-7020; e-mail:

© 2013 by the Association of American Medical Colleges