Aaron Martin, executive vice president and chief digital officer, Providence St. Joseph Health, suggests the following strategies for hospital leaders to make their organizations more innovative. Martin is also managing general partner of Providence Ventures, a not-for-profit venture capital fund affiliated with the Providence Health & Services that invests in innovative healthcare companies.
Make sure the CEO owns innovation. Even though Martin is charged with leading innovation at Providence St. Joseph Health, he makes the argument that his CEO actually owns innovation at the health system. “If the CEO doesn’t own the innovation agenda, the organization will devour it,” Martin says. “People have other things going on, and innovation is by nature very disruptive. You have to resource it effectively and get those experts from outside of health care inside the organization who know how to do it.”
Use Lean approaches to reduce project risk. Leaders at Providence St. Joseph Health develop minimally viable products (MVPs) to test the merits of an idea in front of customers early. “We focus on building the slimmest product we can as fast as we can to do the job the customer wants done,” Martin says. For example, at the start of a project, the team will write a hypothetical “working backwards” press release to demonstrate what they would say about the product and how it adds value once launched. “If you can’t do that at the beginning of the project, you shouldn’t start,” he says.
Foster cross-functional collaboration. “You have to put the tech experts in the same room with the clinical experts,” Martin says. “They all need to be on the same team when building products.”
Learn from tech companies. “Companies like Amazon have a single-minded focus on the customer, and everything else derives from that,” Martin says. “Health systems need to build their relationship with patients because over time, patients will have more flexibility in deciding where they are treated, and they will care more because they are taking on greater financial burden.” A lot of tech companies also are good collaborators, even with their competitors. Providers can take this approach. “Recognize that in some areas you will be useful to each other, but in other areas you will compete,” he says.
Source: HFMA’s Healthcare 2020, Part 4: Transformative Innovation