Harvard Is Hosting a ‘Health Acceleration Challenge’

Standard innovation techniques take too long, so Harvard wants to speed up the process.

According to Dr. Toby Cosgrove, chief executive officer of the Cleveland Clinic, it takes an average of 13 years for a proven medical therapy to become a standard practice. In fact, it usually takes decades for health care innovations to become mainstream. That’s why Harvard Business School and Harvard Medical School are teaming to make this process quicker by collaborating on a new event called the “Health Acceleration Challenge.”

“We can’t afford to develop improvements exclusively for one site when they could be applicable to a much larger number of patients,” says Dr. Barbara McNeil, professor at Harvard Medical School.

The Forum on Health Care Innovation, a collaboration between Harvard Business School and Harvard Medical School, whose purpose is to “unite leading executives, policymakers, and academics in a cross-disciplinary exploration of innovative actions to improve quality, reduce costs, and, ultimately, increase value in the health care industry,” is launching the Health Acceleration Challenge to identify and promote demonstrated health care innovations that are ready to scale.

“We’re looking for proven ideas that have the potential to do great things for the U.S. health care delivery system,” McNeil says. “It is widely known that health care innovations are much slower to disseminate than comparable solutions in other industries. We want to help speed up the process.”

According to a report from Harvard, the innovations must have “credible, demonstrated evidence of their value proposition—such as cost savings, outcomes improvement, and patient satisfaction—a compelling dissemination plan, and be at the cusp of scaling.”

Finalists will share $150,000 in prize money, meet senior health care leaders at the HBS-HMS Forum on Health Care Innovation Conference in April 2015, and have an HBS case written about them. So if you have a new, genius idea, now’s the time to implement it.

Applications are open to everyone, not just Harvard students, and are due September 29. To find out more, visit HealthAccelerationChallenge.com. There will be an informational webinar September 17 at 12 p.m.