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Hmmm, a Healthcare Innovation Exchange by the Feds?

by John Moore | September 16, 2008

While at the AHRQ conference last week I sat in on a Town Meeting style discussion wherein the AHRQ was looking for feedback and suggestions on their newly released Healthcare Innovations Exchange.  A novel idea, this Exchange is intended to bring visibility to numerous “innovations” that have been put into practice so that others may learn and even emulate.

The big problem I have is trying to get my mind of putting the words innovation and government agency together – seems more like an oxymoron to me. But hey, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Beware, this is not an innovations exchange where you will read reports about one cool technology innovation after another.  No, this is a bit more pedestrian than that with innovations that are focused on “processes” (in fact, it looks like they all are) with such titles as:

Coping Skills Training Helps Adolescents Improve Quality of Life and Ability to Manage Their Diabetes,

Comprehensive Program Virtually Eliminates Preventable Birth Trauma

or my favorite…

Hair Stylists Who Serve as Lay Health Educators Encourage Clients to Adopt Healthy Behaviors that Reduce Health Risks

While I applaud this effort  by AHRQ to “get the word out” on innovative practices, I am not a big fan of its execution for a couple of reasons.

First, a vetting process by which Innovations are chosen is not readily apparent.  A cursory look at the innovations listed does not inspire confidence to dig that deep.  Most innovations seem simplistic and I mean really, a process to get employees to wash their hands to prevent spread of MRSA is an innovation? Please, it is hardly that but rather simply, a good business practice.

Secondly, for a new site with a name like exchange, not all that impressed with the ability to exchange ideas and comments with others regarding the various innovations listed.  Would strongly encourage AHRQ to plagiarize Amazon.com’s rating and comment feature (unless of course Amazon has slapped a patent on it – there’s innovation for you, or at least innovation perversion) and allow individuals an opportunity to rate innovations and provide comments.  This would create a far more dynamic site – truly an Exchange.

Hopefully, this is but V1.0 of the Innovations Exchange and V2.0 will be a marked improvement.

Side Note: Can someone please explain to me why the majority of federal government websites are just so difficult to navigate?  Just went back to check for the Innovations Exchange link on the home page of AHRQ, oh boy – you try to find it.  Ah, Google, you are God sent.

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