In our medical university center in there is an ‘avant la lettre’ IPU for a specific chronic medical condition. A multiprofessional group (of medical specialists and allied health professionals) have set up a multidisciplinary focused clinic for patients with this specific chronic medical condition already more then a two decades ago. Around a decade ago they started with initiating local primary care networks around the country and supporting them with guidelines, training and quality measures. This cumulated in a national coverage of local primary care networks and the coordination center broadened their support with a digital platform for patients and health care professionals. Currently, more and more health care organization as well as national health services adopt the network concept and the coordination center has broadened their services with consultation on implementing the network concept. This multiprofessional group has been able to develop the network concept due to the fact that they could develop it outside the medical university center (with more freedom and less organizational obligations). In other words, they had the advantage that they were allowed to be a (fast moving) speedboat not being part of the bigger (slow moving) tanker called the medical university center.
The multiprofessional group would like to continu being a speedboat for their future development. However, there a several reasons for changing this approach: 1) as complex external demands increase (like JCI accreditation, new stricter privacy legislation) a closer link to the medical university center seems necessary so that the IPU does not have to handle these challenges on their own, 2) the network approach could be applied to more chronic medical condition within the medical university center, and being closer linked to the medical university center could speed up the knowledge transfer to other IPU’s, and 3) the big risk of creating IPU’s outside the medical university center is that it stimulates solidarity within the IPU but little with the medical university center leading to a fragmented, loosely coupled system of IPU’s who do not help each other when needed.
In summary, creating innovation space outside the medical university center has clear advantages for rapid innovation (as they can move as a speedboat in stead of being part of a bigger, slow moving tanker), but also has clear disadvantages in dealing with complex external demands as well as hindering knowledge transfer between the outside IPU and other IPU’s within the medical university center. My main question is: Should we develop IPU’s within or outside the medical university center?