Transforming Healthcare Through Innovation—What Will It Take?

lradick March 2, 2018
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What will it take to truly transform healthcare? For Stephen K. Klasko, MD, president and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health, transformation is where passion, creativity and strategic thinking converge to drive change. But not just any change. The kind of change Klasko is after is grounded in innovation and disruptive ideas that create truly new models for the future of healthcare.

To successfully steer healthcare organizations into the future, leaders will need to proactively look for, recognize and embrace disruptions within and to the industry. That’s a tall order for an industry experiencing a surge of changes related to legislation and policy updates, population health shifts, mergers, declining profitability, patient safety, technology and more. Many health organizations find themselves reacting to change just to manage the day-to-day operations, more than creating change with an eye to the future.

In an SG2 blog post, Christopher M. Cornue, FACHE, chief strategy officer and chief innovation officer for Navicent Health, says a disruption in healthcare is “any force (positive or negative), regardless of whether it originates within or outside the industry, capable of fundamentally altering the clinical or business models of health care organizations.” So, how does an organization truly embrace change and use what’s ahead in the future to transform and direct the strategies of today? How does an organization pursue innovation to transform their own healthcare practices?

“We started to look at different models from leading health systems that were getting into that space,” states Catherine A. Jacobson, president and CEO of Froedtert Health, in an interview with Kaufman Hall. “We also had an internal leader who was very enthusiastic about the rapid changes in healthcare, so we sent him out to learn more.”

As a result, Inception Health, a wholly owned subsidiary of Froedtert Health, was formed. Their mission? Drive innovation and solve key healthcare problems.

For these three executive innovators, examining disruptive forces is a significant part of the strategic process. As the author of We CAN Fix Healthcare: The Future Is Now, Klasko truly believes this and often finds opportunities for change out of real-life experiences. In a recent article by MedCity News, Klasko shared about having lung surgery in 2017 and how he signed up for Jefferson Health’s Virtual Rounds, a communication portal that allows a patient’s family to virtually participate in rounds. His children were able to hear directly from the surgeon that he was OK. At the same time, he wondered why they weren’t doing that previously with existing technologies like FaceTime, Skype or even years ago by phone. “At Jefferson, we’re challenging ourselves and our patients to look at what other industries have done and to do it here.”

How will a healthcare organization’s culture need to change to proactively drive innovation? For Jacobson, it meant becoming more innovative at all levels, with leadership accepting the need for innovation and finding champions to pilot innovation projects. To help spread a culture of innovation, leaders will need to validate pilot projects by contributing their own sweat equity to launching them.

In a podcast with Relentless Health Value, Cornue suggests the type of healthcare leaders needed today are not the same leaders needed 20 years ago. The leaders that are going to help transform healthcare for the future will have to think about the next leading practices versus focusing on the current ones, he says. They’ll have to “really look out into the future and considering things differently.” In addition, those leading for the future will possess a broader strategic view, focused on the longer term. They will be engaging, capable of bringing the right people together toward a common goal. Most importantly, “they will be comfortable taking on risk in an industry that traditionally has been more risk-averse than other industries.”

Interested in hearing more? Each of these top innovators will be speaking at ACHE’s Congress on Healthcare Leadership, taking place March 26–29 in Chicago. Klasko will be presenting, “On Being an Innovative Healthcare Leader” during one of our Hot Topics Sessions. Jacobson and Cornue will be presenting during our Masters Series Session on healthcare innovation.

Category: Thought Leadership
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    Jeff Krantz, MHA, MEd

    March 14, 2018 Reply
    While I am a champion of the US healthcare system, the pragmatic reality is that innovation is needed in many aspects of care, delivery, and affordability. Disruption leading toward improvement is reasonable.