A chance to turn my idea into a reality

I am full of ideas … some to create businesses, some to develop new types of devices and some to make the world a better place (ambitious, I know).

While I was a journalist, I would always hear and report about students who were robbed on their way back to their homes in the middle of the night. I thought to myself, someone should develop some sort of life alert gadget that attaches to a key chain and includes GPS. The student could then push a button that alerts security when something is happening instead of running to a blue light. I AM BRILLIANT IN MY OWN MIND.

Then I had an idea to open a restaurant that serves soup all year long because I am obsessed with soup. It would be called Denise’s Soup Shack and would also serve ice cream for those who turn their noses up at hot soup in the middle of summer. Okay … so maybe my ideas aren’t the best in the world — but I would honestly never know because I’ve never had the chance to turn them into reality. But FINALLY I’ve been given a chance!

Now a writer at OSF HealthCare, I get to be immersed with a team that supports new ideas all of the time! While I never thought I would get to weigh in on health care issues, OSF Innovation gave me and many others the opportunity to create effective solutions for our Ministry with the kick-off of the Trailblazer Challenge.

Trailblazer Challenge

The Trailblazer Challenge, led by the Office of Innovation Management, is a friendly competition where Mission Partners are invited to submit ideas on challenges the health care system faces. For this inaugural event, my fellow co-workers within OSF Innovation were asked to innovate ways that could enable and support people in their homes and communities.

The initial challenge was limited to those working in the Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center to learn fast and inform future challenges within the Ministry. Other than that, there were no limits to what we could suggest, no department was prohibited from participating and we could propose as many ideas as were floating around in our brains. It was a dream come true.

All ideas were submitted on our Trailblazer website over a four week period. Mission Partners could upload their own ideas, vote on others and make comments on how to improve the concepts on the platform. Those with the most points were given the chance to win various prizes. However, OSF Innovation leaders got the final say on who would move on the next round—an opportunity to refine our ideas over the course of two days.

Four weeks later and the news came. 142 Mission Partners took the time to either submit an idea, vote or comment on the Trailblazer website. Individuals felt empowered to innovate, working with each other to crank out 66 ideas (I offered up four) that included 617 votes and 310 comments. I did not envy those who had to make the difficult choice to whittle these concepts down.

And the winners are…

The week of September 23, the results were in. Five ideas, including one of mine, were selected to participate in an Innovation Sprint where teams would rapidly define their problems, customer segments and market potential. Take a look at the ideas that moved on to the next round of the competition.

  • Prescribed food delivery (Submitted by Cassi Adkins, Clinical Education Specialist for all of OSF HealthCare): Create a healthy grocery delivery system for our most vulnerable patients.
  • Partner with home health agencies to decrease ER visits (Submitted by Ellen Chaney, Innovation Coordinator for the Center for Information Management): Develop a way to keep individuals from being readmitted to the emergency room for conditions a home health agency could assist with.
  • OSF “Uber” (Submitted by Carissa Dodwell, Performance Improvement Specialist): Implement a transportation system to pick up or drop off patients, increasing appointment compliance.
  • Prevention App (Submitted by Denise Molina-Weiger, Writer for OSF Innovation): Develop an app that clinicians could offer to at-risk patients that gave them the tools to transition to a healthy lifestyle with a step-by-step process.
  • NextDoor for health care (Submitted by Tate Ralph, Simulation Engineer for Jump): Create a platform that connects individuals within their local communities to serve those with health care needs (rides to appointment, grocery shopping, prescription retrieval/monitoring).

There were so many great ideas; I was honored to be chosen among those who would participate in the Innovation Sprint—an activity a majority of us had never done before. All we had to do was form multidisciplinary teams of up to five people. We would learn what comes next in just a couple of weeks.

This is part one of the Trailblazer experience. If you want to know how the Innovation Sprint went down and what came after that — be sure to subscribe to the OSF HealthCare blog!

Last Updated: February 9, 2022

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About Author: Denise Molina-Weiger

Denise Molina-Weiger is a Writing Coordinator for OSF HealthCare, where she has worked since March 2015. She initially came to OSF to write about the work taking place at the Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center, one of the world’s largest simulation and innovation centers and went on to become the Media Relations Coordinator for OSF Innovation which was developed to help the hospital system lead the way in transforming care.

Before joining the OSF HealthCare team, Denise was a reporter for Peoria Public Radio for ten years, writing on everything from politics, housing and transportation issues to hospital care in the region. She earned her bachelor’s degree in radio broadcasting from Western Illinois University in 2003 and received her master’s degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield in 2004.

Denise lives in West Peoria with her husband, son and two crazy dogs. In her spare time, she likes to snuggle on the couch with her family and watch cooking shows on Netflix. She loves taking road trips with her family and then complaining about it when they are over.

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Categories: Innovation, Working at OSF