Why Kaiser Is Betting Big on a Fake Hospital

Fake Hospital, Real Innovation

Source Corbis

Why you should care

Because in just a few years, you may not have to visit the doctor to see the doctor. 

When you arrive at Kaiser Permanente’s Garfield Innovation Center, you’re not expecting much. From the outside, the 37,000 square foot warehouse seems like any other big, boring office (seriously, if the building could talk it would scream, “Nothing interesting to see here!”) But once you walk in, through the bullpen of cubicles and past the main conference room equipped with the obligatory white board, you suddenly, unexpectedly, find yourself in a hospital. Look left, there’s a nurses station. Look right, there’s a hallway lined with patient rooms. It all feels very real. But it’s totally fake.

So why did Kaiser build what looks like a set for Grey’s Anatomy? Because they wanted a place to try out new gadgets before using them on real patients. And they wanted a real-looking hospital where doctors and nurses could run drills and see how to make care more efficient and mistakes less frequent. OZY visited the Garfield Innovation Center to see some of the experiments that have changed how Kaiser sets up operating rooms, ruled out new equipment that sounded great on paper but failed in practice, and tested new gadgets that could usher in the future of healthcare.  

Needless to say, it’s all futuresque. But we were left wondering whether you really need an expensive fake hospital to truly innovate. Their head of innovation weighed in with some lessons learned from institutionalizing creativity in a company as big as Kaiser. 



Numbers and factoids — fodder for your next cocktail party.