Why Definitions Matter


True story - My parents hired a friend to paint their house last summer.  When my mom was picking out paint samples at the local hardware store, she sought out the advice of the man dressed in a painter uniform next to her in the aisle.  Leaning over, my mom presented him with her colors and asked, “So, what do you think?  This color for the house and this color for the trim?” The man looked up and asked, “with an accent?” To which my mother replied in her best southern accent “so… what do you think?  This color for the house and this color for the trim?” 

Often in our collective work, we participate in conversations using words that have become customary to the topic of innovation without thinking about their true meaning. After our countless conversations and events, we may find ourselves interpreting the information shared in slightly different ways, sometimes with slightly different “accents,” which can have downstream impacts to our overall goals of advancing innovation. 

I have two rules for my team at Cambia Grove: Have fun and question everything.

In our pursuit to question everything, we have spent hours questioning the definitions we use in our work. I hope the following descriptions of common words will help better explain our intentions as we work to advance innovation in health care. 


An innovator can be anyone, anywhere. Innovators often work as entrepreneurs, but they can also work within the health care system.  As innovation is defined as “something new or different”, this is someone who works to advance change.


As stated in the dictionary, an entrepreneur is someone working to start a business.   

Health Care System

The health care system is defined by our 5 Points of Health Care™.  It is a system by which there are five segments that work to help individuals and families live healthier lives.


An industry is a group of like-minded organizations that are producing tools for a sector. (Examples: technology, life sciences, advanced manufacturing).


A sector is a group of like-minded organizations that are producing outcomes for people or consumers. (Examples: agriculture, aerospace, health care, retail, etc.)

Digital Health

A digital health solution is a technology-based solution whose user is caring for or providing care for themselves (think of a personal app) or another individual (such as a doctor using a tool to help their patient.) 

Health IT

Health IT refers to the “pipes” or “infrastructure” that technological systems are built upon and that digital health solutions may use to provide information or other necessities. Ex. Electronic medical records (EMRs).

Life Sciences

Life science solutions are those solutions that are delivered as a drug or device that typically require federal approval.

Innovative Services

Innovative services include new processes or procedures (think concierge services) in the health care system that do not fall into the other health care innovation categories.  

There are many other words that we use interchangeably, but the ones above seem to be those that we most often come across at Cambia Grove.  Accent or no accent, feel free to poke holes in our use and definitions and PLEASE let us know if there are other words that you feel need to be further defined to help us get on the same page to transform the health care system.  

Thank you for your work. I look forward to hearing from you at the Cambia Grove or over email or Twitter.



About Maura Little

Maura joined the Cambia Grove team in April 2017. She brings with her a diverse set of allies looking to transform health care. Her previous government roles built her network to include a range of stakeholders from life sciences, global health, energy, ICT and natural resources.

Maura passionately believes our region can be a shining example of what is possible in health care through collaboration. Her current role as Executive Director builds on her previous leadership roles in advancing the conversation towards constructive change. 

As Governor Inslee’s Life Science and Global Health Sector Lead, Maura led strategic initiatives to put our region back on the map—from recruiting the 17th Annual NIH SBIR/STTR Conference to Washington for the first time in conference history, to working with startups to connect them to vital resources that will help them grow and thrive in the Northwest. 

Maura began her journey in the health care sector in 2009 where she played a key role in communicating the federal Affordable Care Act to local stakeholders as a staff member for then Congressman Jay Inslee. As the Washington State Director of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, her perspective was greatly influenced by her work in patient advocacy.

When Maura is not working toward health care transformation, you can usually find her working to transform her house. She spends most of her time at home boating or working in the yard and enjoying the island life with her husband and two young boys.   


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