Accidental encounters of the innovative kind.

It was purely by accident that I looked across the street from the tallest building between New York and Chicago in downtown Cleveland and saw the words Global Center for Health Innovation imprinted boldly in front of an imposing building. I was immediately drawn to the words Health and Innovation. This was the first of three accidental encounters that I experienced during this visit. Accidental experiences have been a hallmark of innovation over the years.

Red Hat at HIMSS with Nadhan

The 3M Post It note is a well known example. I saw the Amazon Echo during one of the sessions at the AWS Summit 2016 in Chicago and understood that this voice controlled speaker was based upon a completely different idea and is supposed to have happened by accident as well, according to this article on the Business Insider. Which leads me to wonder if accidents are a good thing overall for successful innovation to happen. While this may be true, it behooves us to create a controlled environment that is conducive for the right type of accidental encounters to happen — just like the Global Center for Health Innovation has done. Join me as I walk you through some of my other accidental encounters.

House of Innovation for Healthcare

Intrigued by the name, I walked up to the lady at the front desk of the Global Center for Health Innovation who immediately scheduled a tour with John Paganini, senior manager, Interoperability Initiatives, HIMSS. Three words best characterize my experience at this center: Open. Interoperability. Innovation.

Open. You walk in and you see this large open atrium with the logos of health care and technology leaders in the industry all around you. It gives you an aura of having the freedom to think, to continuously improve, to innovate without any constraints. The ventilated glass-paned environment gives you the sense of freely exchanging ideas and thoughts with collaborators across firewalls and regional boundaries. It manifests the right mindset for promoting an environment of interoperability — which takes us to the fourth floor.

Interoperability. I get off the elevators on the fourth floor to be received by Paganini, who greets me with a beaming smile and takes me through a tour of the HIMSS Innovation Center. Walking down the aisle, there is a timeline of the history of innovation in health care. Turn around and we enter the Technology Showcase and lo and behold, the first booth that you see on the right bears the name of one of the world’s largest open source software companies, Red Hat – my employer and a company that continuously drives innovation. This was my Accidental Encounter Number Two. The list of companies that you see in this area include technology innovators as well as niche players in healthcare. They are making a statement by being on the HIMSS Innovation Center, whose core mantra is about interoperability to facilitate seamless interaction between the systems and applications that make up the ecosystem of healthcare IT.

Innovation. When we have companies like the ones represented in the Technology Showcase share content and ideas on collaborating to improve the overall customer experience in healthcare, accidental encounters are bound to happen. These could be chance intersections of ideas from different domains and disciplines, best practices applied in other industries by technology vendors or complementary technologies leveraged by the healthcare pure players. However, these encounters — albeit accidental — happen within this fertile environment that symbolizes the House of Innovation for Healthcare.

Paganini explains that this is the only such facility across the globe. As he is talking, in come a group of junior computer science students from the John Carroll University. Paganini and Fred DeGrandis, managing director and chief administrative officer of the Global Center for Health Innovation explain what the center is all about. Paganini gives me the floor and I take the opportunity to talk about working for the best open source company in the world! This was my Accidental Encounter Number Three.

Before I lose count of my own accidental encounters, what really matters is the encounter that you have when you visit the Global Center for Health Innovation and in particular, the HIMSS Innovation Center.

What kind of accidental encounter are you likely to have? Have you experienced such accidental encounters of the innovative kind? Please let me know in the comments section below.

Meanwhile, let the innovative minds prevail at Global Center for Health Innovation in Cleveland, driving encounters that generate solutions for our overall well-being with a healthy dose of accidental innovation.

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