February 20, 2020/Nursing/Innovations

Encouraging Innovation: 3 Tips for Nurse Leaders

Recommendations from ACNO Dr. Nancy Albert


As recently shared by Executive Chief Nursing Officer (ECNO) Kelly Hancock, DNP, RN, NE-BC, Cleveland Clinic’s 2019 Nursing Leadership Summit focused on preparing nurse leaders for the future of healthcare and the changing role of the nurse.


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During the Summit, one of the key topics presented was “Driving Innovation” by Nancy Albert, PhD, CCNS, CCFN, CCRN, NE-BC, Associate Chief Nursing Officer (ACNO) for the Office of Nursing Research and Innovation.

Dr. Albert opened her remarks by highlighting the incredible journey nurses are on to drive new roles and rules in healthcare delivery and population health. She spoke of coordination becoming ‘the care’ and the importance of keeping patients connected across the continuum. She talked about payers and providers collaborating to deliver care more affordably. She posed questions about alternate care approaches to patient education, undermanaged conditions, and more. And she noted that – through innovation – nurses can make a difference in improving the health of everyone, from young to old.

To that end, Dr. Albert also challenged the more than 500 nurse leaders in attendance to inspire innovation among their teams and encourage nursing caregivers to think differently about the way healthcare is delivered and the nontraditional ways care could be delivered.


“As nurse leaders, we need to champion information sharing by providing the right information at the right time to our teams – and then allow our teams to imagine what can be,” Dr. Albert said. “Our clinical nurses are capable of filling in the gaps, solving problems and pushing ideas forward toward new roles and rules.”

To encourage innovation during this transformative time in healthcare’s history, Dr. Albert offers three key tips for nurse leaders:

  • Inspire caregivers.
    Consider how you can inspire caregivers to seek solutions when they are committed to making a change. Think about how you can help push ideas forward and overcome obstacles to make innovation happen. Additionally, when you know a caregiver is committed to making a change, stand behind their ambition to innovate. Innovation can be uncomfortable; however, leaders need to get past their own discomfort surrounding new ideas and allow change to emerge. It’s important to embrace change and welcome the uncertainty that goes with it.
  • Support ideation.
    Nurses need to be free to ideate – engage caregivers to innovate and develop new solutions. Supporting ideation is the first step in bringing new solutions forward. Provide nursing caregivers with the help and resources they need to ideate by connecting them with members of your organization’s innovation department or team. Those with experience and expertise are vital to helping make new solutions possible.
  • Allow innovators to show impact.
    Impact is important for several reasons, but especially in determining if ideas have value. Nurse leaders are pivotal in facilitating solution refinement, implementation of innovations and introducing successful ideas to others. Leaders can create links and be a catalyst that connects nurse innovators with biomechanical engineering, information technology experts and others. Ask yourself, “Am I willing to say yes to novelty even if I truly don’t understand the value of what is being brought forward?” Additionally, Dr. Albert says it’s important to celebrate innovators and their achievements – especially when innovations decrease cost or save time.

Lead for the present and the future – more tips coming soon


Check back soon for more leadership insight from Cleveland Clinic’s 11th Annual Nursing Leadership Summit. Now is the time to prepare for the changing future!

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