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Health system problems are not only complex, they are “wicked” problems. Traditional thinking doesn’t solve wicked problems. Wicked problems have innumerable causes, are tough to describe and do not have a right answer(s).

What is needed is a new way of thinking about health system service delivery. This starts with a blank sheet of paper and a team of creative and curious individuals from diverse backgrounds and with deep expertise in various disciplines. Their job will be to make the best decisions possible in order for healthcare services to be better, faster and cheaper.

One methodology that has proven effective with wicked problems is decision support modelling with general morphological analysis or GMA. The key proponent of this approach is Dr Tom Ritchey of Ritchey Consulting in Sweden. See his excellent book “Wicked Problems- Social Messes” published by Springer 2011.

There is an urgent call to action to be innovative. A continuous stream of innovations are needed from many sources.

Lean engineering, design thinking, customer development, agile development and the use of applied economics must form the basis for these innovations. With lean engineering, value is defined as providing benefit to the customer. This focus provides the opportunity to enhance efficiency and productivity.

Some innovations are already surfacing: patient focused hospital funding in British Columbia, the growth of ambulatory surgery centers in British Columbia, the North tele-health network in Ontario and the virtual ward at St Mikes hospital in Toronto.

That is why we are introducing the Dr Bill Waters’ Virtual Awards for innovations in health system service delivery.  Dr Waters is a very accomplished individual.  During his career, he was very successful in both the academic and real world of business. Dr Waters is a highly intelligent and charming individual who taught my MBA class micro-economics. That is why we have named these important awards for him.

The jury for these awards includes: Jonathan Guss, former CEO of the OMA, Harvey Botting, former publications manager at Rogers Publications, Dick Clark CA  and Andrew Shaw CEO of the Toronto Symphony.

We are seeking nominations for the Dr Bill Waters’ awards from recipients of our e-newsletters and from others.

Once the gold, silver and bronze finalists are selected, we will send out an e-announcement and press release.We will also be interviewing the winners and producing a video describing these innovations. The video will be on our web site and on You Tube.

So here’s to improvements in health services this coming year. Please email us with your nominations including an explanation of why the innovations should win the Dr Bill Waters’ award.

Stay tuned for the announcement of the finalists and for the video highlighting their innovations.