Dr. Laurie Carrier
Chief medical officer,
Heartland Health Centers
The Chicago-based federally qualified health center serves mainly students, immigrants, refugees and people with chronic conditions. Carrier led efforts to integrated behavioral health with primary care for these underserved populations, including at seven school-based clinics. In 2019, Heartland expanded its integrative medicine approach, incorporating other aspects of treating the whole person—cooking classes, nutrition, wellness, acupuncture, etc. Results included 47% of obese patients lost weight, 58% of people improved cholesterol management and 62% improved everyday functions. During the pandemic, the center pushed telehealth to its patients with 4,013 visits in March and April.
How do you identify opportunities for innovation?
I am fortunate that I work with very innovative colleagues who push us as an organization to do better and think deeper. I feel like my role is to be receptive to their great ideas and to support my colleagues in thinking big and forward while helping to advocate for those innovations.
What advice do you have for people who know how to get an idea in front of managers but may be afraid of failing?
I find the more one talks about great ideas and potential innovations, the more our leadership can’t imagine living without them. One might think reminding leadership about all of the problems that need to be solved will get people to listen, but if you come in with the solution that needs to be achieved you might get more buy-in as well as some new teammates who want to be part of the process.
How do you stay focused on innovation during a crisis?
Now more than ever we need innovative thinkers. All of us working in healthcare have been challenged like never before to continuously adapt to an ever-changing situation. While this has tested our strength and resilience, it has also brought out creative teamwork like I have never seen before. Our organization has felt the priority to stay focused on innovation as it gives hope to those feeling burned out from the pressures of the pandemic and we continue to prioritize care team transformation and workflow redesign.