Are we innovative in allied health?

Innovation generally refers to creating or changing processes, ideas or products so they are more effective. It does not necessarily have to mean you are an inventor.

I feel at times there is a gap between the amazing projects people are doing at their place of work and identification with the word innovation. People are not confident that what they are doing is actually innovative. Over the years, I have met so many wonderful therapists, and I can tell you, there are so many creative, driven, amazing, innovative therapists within our industry. You definitely do not have to invent things to be innovative in allied health.

In our industry, the implementation of new ideas, and creating dynamic service delivery for improving existing services, improve the ability and likelihood of a service or practice succeeding. Whether you are in private practice or a publicly funded service, innovation can help grow and develop allied health nationally by improving the way clinics are run, improving the way we achieve outcomes for clients, improving the way we staff our centres and develop positive workplace culture. Innovation can lead to greater education and knowledge for all therapists, regardless of location and access to supervisors.

In 2014 we saw the Royal Children’s Hospital OT Department in Melbourne showcase their award-winning innovative program which delivered online education modules nationwide for therapists needing to update their skills in the treatment of paediatric hand conditions and injuries. Innovation in allied health can also mean changing your model of how you deliver care to clients or adapting to changes that happen in the environment around you to deliver a better product or service. When it comes down to the nuts and bolts of innovation, the underlying driver of innovation is creative problem-solving. Fostering this creativity in your workplace can have a direct positive impact on productivity and performance. Sharing, then, of these creative ideas further enhances the development of allied health roles and services nationally, which is something I am very excited about. We are innovative in allied health, and I think we should celebrate this more and tell people all about it!

Last year, I launched the Amy Geach Hand Therapy Innovation Award as part of the annual Australian Hand Therapy Association National Conference. I wanted to bridge that disconnection between therapist’s perceptions of innovation (or lack of!) and their actual ideas and programs that were rolling out in hand therapy practice around the country.

This year, we are into our second year of the award. Entries are now open. Why not nominate a therapist you think has shown innovation in practice, or nominate yourself! Entry is open until 30th June 2015 via this link:


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