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Kaiser Permanente’s Innovation Consultancy Wins Design Value Award

The Catalyst Program champions innovation at hospital and clinics

January 26, 2016



Four people lined up and smiling, wearing fancy clothes and one holds a framed awards certificate Receiving the 2015 Design Award.

The Catalyst Program, Kaiser Permanente Innovation Consultancy’s multi-year partnership with the Center for Care Innovations and gravitytank, has received the Design Management Institute’s 2015 Design Value Award for spurring innovation in America’s rapidly changing health care environment and creating more resilient health care systems.

The program aligns with Kaiser Permanente’s belief that ongoing innovation and implementation of new ideas and evidence-based practices lead to an important outcome: innovative, high-quality care that is affordable and improves health for all.

“We are thrilled to be recognized with our Innovation Learning Network partners in creating this robust design thinking program,” said Chris McCarthy, director of Kaiser Permanente’s Innovation Consultancy and the ILN.

A woman gesturing while talking with a poster behind her showing computers and phone featuring a program app.

Demonstrating how the online apps can help support Catalyst Program participants.

The Innovation Consultancy and its partners developed a customized design thinking curriculum and collaborative learning network aimed at transforming health care professionals into “catalysts” — champions of human-centered design and on-the-ground innovators within their hospital systems and clinics. Catalysts help apply innovation and designs skills to discover new ways to advance their work.

One such catalyst, Kathleen Khoo at Kaiser Permanente’s Los Angeles Medical Center, had been looking at ways to improve the success of their Prevention & Wellness program, particularly around walking. Applying techniques she and fellow innovators learned through the Catalyst program, she discovered that fun and accountability to a community were key in driving positive behavior change.

“We piloted the use of ‘gamified’ pedometers, or pedometers with games that allowed employees to compete against or work together with fellow walkers,” explained Khoo.

Staff at one of their medical offices were able to stay fit, achieving 10,000 steps a day for a month. They also used the monitors with their pulmonary rehabilitation patients, tracking their progress and offering feedback and encouragement. They recently received a four-year research grant to test using these monitors more robustly.

”It’s been pretty exciting helping people connect to their creativity and have it add value to their workplace challenges,” said Michael Lin, specialist in the IC and co-creator of the Catalyst Program.

Three people at a wall placing sticky notes on it while coming up with ideas

Catalyst Program participants collaborate while brainstorming.

The overall program results? The 2013 participants showed a statistically significant improvement in their innovation skills, such as generating ideas, taking calculated risks, being entrepreneurial, developing workplace relationship effectiveness, and turning ideas into products, processes and services. Specific systemic changes reported include:

  • Cultural change around innovation
  • Application of innovation techniques to other issues
  • Introduction of new technology and programs
  • Improved processes

Currently, more than 80 trained catalysts in California and New Jersey are leading 160 innovation projects across health care systems, public health institutions and safety net organizations. The Catalyst Program continues to have a cultural and social impact across care teams and the patients in the communities they serve.