Safety & quality
Dr. Hal Yee
Chief deputy director, clinical affairs,
Los Angeles County Department of Health Services
Recognizing that access to specialty care was a big problem for disadvantaged populations in L.A., Yee initiated work on an e-consullt program that allowed specialists to quickly respond to primary-care doctors, eliminating the need for the patient having to see the specialist in person. The system has grown to about 20,000 e-consults per month. The median time to review an e-consult was one day; 25% of them were resolved without the need for an in-person visit. For those needing to see a specialist, wait times dropped 17% without increasing staffing and no-show rates.
How do you identify opportunities for innovation?
Rather than trying to identify opportunities for innovation, my approach has been to understand fundamental barriers to great healthcare delivery and develop pragmatic and sometimes disruptive solutions that overcome those barriers. Since most clinicians experience these barriers at work every day, it’s not very hard to find opportunities for innovation. The challenge is in developing and implementing the solutions.
What advice do you have for people who know how to get an idea in front of managers but may be afraid of failing?
Good managers and senior leaders are always looking for practical solutions to real problems, so my advice would be to focus on feasible interventions that solve bona fide problems the organization needs to fix. On the other hand, most managers and leaders will not be very enthusiastic to hear solutions that can’t be operationalized or that don’t address a genuine problem. One shouldn't be afraid of failing; rather they should be afraid of not trying.
How do you stay focused on innovation during a crisis?
This is the wrong question. The right question is how can an organization not focus on and encourage innovation while the pandemic continues to consume tremendous resources? At the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services we have been pushing our teams to drive toward a better normal, because we believe that this crisis motivates us to innovate and disrupt in ways that will result in our coming out of the pandemic even better than we were before.