Today’s rant brought to you by the excessive misuse of the word “innovation”

June 19, 2012 — Leave a comment

Black & white photo of a young kid sticking his tongue out at the camera.

Innovative: being or producing something like nothing done or experienced or created before

Improved: made more desirable or profitable or valuable; superior to another (of same class or set or kind)

“We launched an innovative outreach campaign that increased enrollment by 20%.” Umm, sending staff to man the booth at health fairs is far from novel. I’m looking at you ACME Health Plan (name changed to protect the guilty). Sure your stats went up, but getting staff off the phones, out of the cubes and out into the community does not innovative make.

“Our platform offers a wide variety of innovative solutions for claims payment.” Really? Then how come the bullets that follow are features that have been industry standard, in some cases, for the last decade? Aaaargh! When I see this opening line, I expect to see patents or other validation of a game-changer in our midst. And I was disappointed. Utterly. For there were no proof points in sight.

“We are known for our innovative problem solving.”  Such as? Don’t tease us. If you really have perfected a way to hi-jack your consulting staff’s neurological pathways and supersized their cognitive abilities; then by all means back this up with details. Perhaps linking to the New England Journal of Medicine’s citation heralding your breakthrough would help bolster your claim?

In all seriousness, it’s getting out of hand. When faced with the temptation to use innovation in any form, try improvement on for size first. It’s probably more accurate. And I would argue that improvement in healthcare these days is just as sexy as innovation.

And more truthful.


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