One of the most exciting parts about working in the healthcare industry is innovation. Because in our industry, innovation doesn’t just mean better efficiencies and a stronger bottom line—it means lives saved and a higher quality of life for our patients. And thanks to the exponential growth of innovation, we’re now entering a new chapter of progress. Across the spectrum, we’re seeing things like predictive analytics, data-driven clinical decision-making solutions, and complex artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms changing the way we provide care.
As healthcare leaders, this brings up an important question. How do we ensure that we and our teams are properly prepared to stay up with or ahead of the curve of healthcare innovation?
Getting Out of the Features and Functionality Game
We live in a society that loves lengthy lists of features. As consumers, we’re conditioned to want the latest and the greatest and the most functionality on the market. And businesses and advertisers go above and beyond to deliver. And while this might sound fine on the surface, it may help to perpetuate a thought pattern that could be counterproductive to innovation, especially in the healthcare analytics space.
When we look to create or implement new systems, the question shouldn’t be, “Does it do this?” Instead, the question needs to go deeper and ask, “Can this solution deliver on the goal that I need it to?” While these might sound nearly identical, they’re not.
For example, if you’re implementing a new EHR system, you could ask whether or not the system has the functionality to collect a certain data set. While this is a good start, the real question should be, “Does this EHR have the ability to save us time when collecting data?” or “Does this EHR provide better documentation that can help us track meaningful trends?”
The idea is that we should be looking to get away from the ‘check the box’ mindset when assessing the validity of new innovations. Focus more on the problem you’re looking to solve and what sort of lasting impact the solution can have on the things that really matter
How Good is Good Enough? More than Metrics
How do we measure whether or not a new predictive analytics or data-driven clinical decision-making solution is making that lasting impact? Metrics. As healthcare professionals, we’re extremely familiar with the idea of metrics. But sometimes there’s a tendency to talk metrics and forget about targets.
For example, the metric might be readmission rates, but the target is what level of readmission rate is good enough. This can be a bit challenging with new technology because you don’t want to set targets that are too optimistic but you also don’t want to undersell the potential of a system to do things you never imagined.
Great examples of targets attached to metrics include looking at things like accuracy, efficiency, throughput, costs, reductions, and increases. When implementing new systems, it’s a must to set targets for measured metrics. This helps to push the envelope and protect your team from sliding back into incremental change and missing out on the bigger gains.
Preparing to Fail
Talk to any successful professional athlete and they’ll tell you that you have to have a winner’s mindset to get across the finish line. And while we believe they’re right, the simplicity of that statement may be a bit misleading. If you were to dig a little deeper, you’d hear that the mindset is referring to the end state, and that in between now and the finish line they expect setbacks, challenges, and hurdles.
With healthcare innovation, the same is true. While you shouldn’t plan to fail, you should expect to have setbacks. At Johns Hopkins, many of their key leaders have a mantra that you’re going to have to build twice anyways.1 What they mean by this is that the first time you attack the problem, you probably aren’t going to find the solution—but you are going to fully understand what the problem is.
Is that really a failure? Not at all. The more intimately you can understand the problem, the higher your chance of real success with future attempts. Additionally, this protects you from building a solution that is feature rich but doesn’t solve any real problems. Shiny widgets may look cool, but if you have no need for something shiny, you haven’t really accomplished anything.
1Net Health Webinar, Modern Healthcare Innovation Leaders, 2021
Modern Healthcare Innovation Leaders
How Top Health Systems Plan and Execute Innovation