“Millennials want to create change that lasts and build innovation that matters —
and many choose to do so within existing systems and organizations.”
These were the wise words of Mark Smith, MD, MedStar Health’s chief innovation officer, director of the MedStar Institute for Innovation (MI2) and HFA’s executive sponsor, when asked why millennials are so interested in “intrapreneurship” in a past Forbes interview.
As HFA starts our second full fellowship year operating within MI2, we’re adapting our program model to fuel this passion to create meaningful change by focusing on some “internal startups” that can benefit tremendously.
Our two 2017-18 HFA fellows started this week and will spend 50 percent of their time respectively working within “internal startups” at MI2, and 50 percent completing the HFA curriculum to explore, ideate, and implement new ideas within those assigned areas.
What prompted the pivot?
In short, we have our eyes on both sustainability and incorporating our lessons learned.
HFA transitioned from a standalone nonprofit to a program within MI2 in January 2016. Since that time, we’ve navigated many unknowns, ranging from “will this work well within MedStar?” to “how will we sustain what the fellows create—as well as the program overall?”
In hindsight, where we landed with these challenges doesn’t sound surprising. We believe the best way to keep this quick-turn program going and thriving is to more deeply align it with the priorities and operational realities of MI2. Rather than picking one of the many pressing chronic diseases our system addresses as the focus each year and finding clinical mentors, we’re embedding the fellows within some of MI2’s own emerging priority areas and teams.
We believe this will be a win-win: these lean yet scaling teams can benefit enormously from the contributions of exceptional early career professionals being challenged to think and work differently. Plus, the fellows will be even more integrated within our system while retaining the freedom to co-design a new idea that the team has the potential to carry forward as the business grows. They’ll spend three days a week at MedStar Health collaborating with these internal startup teams, and two days at 1776 working through program deliverables, curriculum learning, mentorship sessions, and more. Additionally, as another sign of this deeper integration, you’ll likely notice that our overall web presence has a new home within MI2’s website, and that our social media content will be shared via broader MedStar (vs. standalone) channels.
Smaller—but just as mighty
While our own HFA team is now smaller in supporting two versus four fellows, we believe it’s the right size for MI2 and this HFA model as they stand today—and, we hope, for years to come.
As is the MI2 way, we’ll iterate on the new structure based on feedback from our fellows and collaborators. But what we hope these shifts underscore is that MedStar has benefitted in countless ways from the contributions of HFA fellows to date—and vice versa—and we’re ready to keep innovating, learning, and adapting together.
Announcing our new fellows and focus areas
With that, we’re pleased to announce the 2017-18 HFA fellows and mentors who will help make this new model a reality: Renee Kakareka (left), a designer and entrepreneur focused on health care and accessible living, and Sharon Rodriguez (right), a data-centered health policy advocate from the University of Kentucky. They were chosen from about 370 applicants to work with us from Sept. 5, 2017 to July 31, 2018.
Renee Kakareka will support the MedStar Health Center for Integrative Medicine, working under the lead physician mentorship of Emily Ratner, MD, founding medical director of the MedStar Health Center for Integrative Medicine in Olney, Maryland and director of Integrative Medicine Initiatives at MI2, and lead executive mentorship of Paul Plsek, innovator-in-residence at MI2. Renee graduated with honors from Philadelphia University with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design and a concentration in Global Portfolio, an academic experience helping students pursue global opportunities in their profession. Renee’s thesis project in assistive technology fueled her interest in health care. She leveraged her background in sign language to develop a device that locates sound and captions voices to improve accessible communication, ultimately inspiring her to build a startup and license the technology.
Sharon Rodriguez will support the MedStar Telehealth Innovation Center, working under the lead physician mentorship of Ethan Booker, MD, director of Operations Improvement in the Department of Emergency Medicine at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, and lead executive mentorship of Bill Sheahan, a corporate vice president for MedStar Health, director of the MedStar Simulation, Training and Education Laboratory (SiTEL), and co-director of the MedStar Telehealth Innovation Center. Sharon earned a Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management from The Ohio State University. Meanwhile she interned in a variety of healthcare settings and community organizations, including the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Bluegrass, UK Healthcare, Sutter Health, and OSU Wexner Medical Center. Sharon also earned a master’s degree in Health Administration at the University of Kentucky, focusing her public health research on understanding the socio-ecological factors contributing to Kentucky’s high rates of cancer.
Please join us in congratulating and welcoming Renee and Sharon, and stay tuned to the blog to follow their experiences and other HFA developments.