Executive vice president and chief operating officer, Sinai Health System
Steed has been driving a financial turnaround at the safety-net health system, targeting $75 million margin improvements. The system achieved hit nearly half of that goal about a year into the process. “We are exceeding our financial turnaround targets even in the midst of navigating the negative impacts of the COVID pandemic,” she said. Getting there included consolidating and rationalizing operations across ambulatory, acute and post-acute service lines. She also led an effort in behavioral health that reduced length of stay as well as patient walkouts of the ED.
How do you identify opportunities for innovation?
Most opportunities for innovation are prompted by the critical needs of the organization and the burning impetus for radical change disruption, improvement and transformation that are caused by both external and internal forces, including declining reimbursement; increased competition in the market and erosion of market share; failed patient retention; and quality/safety outcomes to name a few. Another mechanism to generate ideas for innovation comes from fostering a culture of engagement in the workforce and encouraging innovation on the front lines. Additionally, it is important that we create a learning environment where people feel safe to take risks and where ideas are encouraged.
What advice do you have for people who know how to get an idea in front of managers but may be afraid of failing?
Leaders are ultimately responsible for success or failure, so they must find ways to encourage innovation and reduce the fear of failure, which could suppress innovation, creativity and idea generation. It is important to encourage risk taking and to view all failures as healthy learning opportunities. Leaders need to be fluid and flexible when it comes to innovation and learn to balance the need of driving continuous improvement with incremental innovation while simultaneously encouraging discovery, adoption and implementation of radical innovations without fear of failure. Lastly, I always encourage not letting perfection get in the way of progress and therefore not all failures are true failures, so don’t be discouraged by slower progress.
How do you stay focused on innovation during a crisis?
It is critical that we keep our guard up and our eye on the ball when driving radical innovation. This COVID pandemic alone has forced organizations to be quicker on our toes. There was no playbook on this, so we have been forced to be creative and are literally building the plane and flying it at the same time on navigating this COVID pandemic. The key to success is maintaining the spirit of engagement and fully leveraging the frontline staff in the process.