Kaiser Permanente’s Innovation on the Front Lines

by Lew McCreary

CHRIS MCCARTHY SHOWS UP for an early-morning interview wearing raspberry-colored scrubs. Later he’ll head to one of Kaiser Permanente’s Bay Area hospitals to watch nurses at work. McCarthy, a KP innovation specialist, is just beginning a project aimed at optimizing the time nurses spend with their patients. He’s often in clinical settings, observing how health care providers do their jobs; how they interact with one another, with technology, and with patients; and how patients respond.

McCarthy is part of the Innovation Consultancy, a small team within Kaiser Permanente that was born of the company’s involvement with the design firm IDEO. In 2003 KP hired IDEO to help it develop ...

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