Doctors Lounge – What is the Innovation Lab?

We were delighted to welcome Angela Wignall and Matthew Miller, co-founders of Island Health’s Innovation Lab to our Virtual Doctors’ Lounge in early February.  Here’s a quick summary of what they shared:

What is the Innovation Lab?

As defined on their webpage, the Innovation Lab “exists to explore and extend the boundaries of what is possible at IH by enabling, encouraging, celebrating, and sustaining innovation through intrapreneurship – acting like an entrepreneur inside an organization.”

What was once a virtual concept is now becoming a bit more bricks and mortar:  They have carved out a physical home in the Memorial Pavilion, and are currently kitting it out with desks, 3D printers, Virtual and Augmented Reality Gear, and other technologies to support innovation.  We’re looking forward to seeing what the main coordination space, design thinking workshops, and entrepreneurial residences look like in real life!

How is innovation different from quality improvement?

QI is tinkering with the status quo; innovation finds solutions that don’t currently exist.

QI is often associated with PDSA (Plan Do Study Act); Innovation relies on learning from failure.

Where have I heard of the Innovation Lab before?

Their flagship event, a 24-hour multidisciplinary Code Hack, ran in 2019 and 2020.

Applications from Island Health staff and medical staff, as well as from external partners (students, partners, entrepreneurs, machine learning experts, engineers) were collected.  Approved Hackers shared their problem pitches through an online platform (‘Spark’) and a total of 15 were shared in a rapid pitch session.

Teams were curated to create innovative solutions to these problems over a 24-hour period, supported by mentors, experts, and (delicious) cold pizza.  Awards were shared at the end of the Code Hack, and feedback was overwhelmingly positive:  100% of respondents would participate in another.

What’s ahead for the Innovation lab?

The team is currently seeking innovation funding from external sources, furthering their COVID-spurred partnerships with Camosun Innovates (remember those awesome face shields?!) and UVIC (more awesome face shields!), and working with the Island Health design team to create a purpose-built innovation lab in the new Cowichan District Hospital.

Fingers are also tightly crossed for a third year of Code Hack, where braver solutions will be needed!

 How can I get involved?

For more information or to find out how you might get involved, please contact


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