Healthcare leaders like to say that their industry is different, suggesting that it’s difficult for anyone not immersed in its inner workings to understand how the sausage is made. Yet a cross section of executives speaking at the Transformation Summit stressed the benefit an outside perspective can bring, especially with the increased focus on data, consumerism and cost control.
Collaboration is the key, however, said Arturo Polizzi, CEO of the Christ Hospital Health Network in Cincinnati, adding, “Having an outsider come in and tell a group of physicians or other providers how they should be doing things doesn’t work.”
To ensure industry outsiders innovate hand-in-hand with organizations providing care on a daily basis, Dr. Richard Zane, chief innovation officer at UCHealth, said the Aurora, Colo.-based health system’s CEO tasked him with a critical directive: “Cut out the crap.” That meant getting processes related to contracting, institutional review boards and more down to just days, instead of months.
Zane also stressed the importance of co-developing new tools with companies, rather than purchasing off-the-shelf solutions. To ensure outside companies understand the idiosyncrasies of healthcare, UCHealth brings in engineers to actually sit down with physicians at the bedside.
“Come to us early,” Zane said of UCHealth’s strategy when working with outsiders. “Don’t think you have the solution. … This is not the gaming industry, where you put (a program) in a box and sell it.”
At the same time, providers need to be open to thinking about problems in a different way. That was the case at Texas Medical Center in Houston when patient complaints about parking spurred leaders to decide to build a new garage. But when technology vendor NarrativeDX applied its artificial intelligence to patient surveys, the reality was complaints largely centered around a lack of wheelchairs. The medical center saved millions by purchasing wheelchairs and placing them strategically throughout the existing garage.
Hospitals sit on mountains of data and need to think about different ways of interpreting it, said Kyle Robertson, CEO of NarrativeDX.
For many health systems working to innovate, drawing a line between clinical care and everything else that goes on in the business has proved helpful. “We’re very clear that we’re not trying to change the relationship between the provider and the patient,” said Aaron Martin, chief digital officer at Renton, Wash.-based Providence St. Joseph Health and managing general partner at Providence Ventures. “The patient and the provider is not a customer service relationship. That is something totally different. But everything that surrounds that—the consumer walking into that clinic office … the provider walking into the clinic office, is customer service.”