COACHING MINUTE: 2 Tips to Drive Organizational Innovation

By Debbie Landers

As a veteran healthcare executive who has led innovation for a large health system and for Studer Group, I find it challenging, and sometimes frustrating, to align people’s expectations for “innovation” with the realities we face in the healthcare industry. 

I regularly find myself explaining that innovation and disruption go hand in hand. Consider the constant change in healthcare today that is driven by technology, government mandates, better clinical pathways, process improvements, etc.

However, there is certainly no shortage of executive conversations about the need for more innovation. When you think about it, we are surrounded by innovations! I have two tips for leaders who are struggling to drive innovation in their organizations.

  1. Start by clearly defining in what area you are looking to innovate. Once you narrow your focus, you can move quickly to find solutions to your high-priority problems. Those of us in healthcare fully understand the expectation and need for change, but we must be laser-focused on the outcomes we hope to achieve to drive the innovation we need.

    Do you want:

    • Safer healthcare?
    • More affordable healthcare?
    • Better access to healthcare?
    • Improved efficiencies?
    • Continuity of care?
    • More transparent communication?
    • Cultural alignment across a health system?
  2. Then, clearly communicate the “why” to your team. I was talking to a health system team recently that was going through a merger, and the leaders were struggling to get their employees to understand why they were switching to a new electronic medical record (EMR) to integrate with the new parent organization. However, when the leaders stepped back and clearly communicated the “why” -- to provide safer care driven by clinical protocols and best practices throughout their entire network, eliminate unnecessary paperwork, save time and improve access – the employees and providers got on board.

For an organization to truly transform, innovation must be a priority for everyone from the frontline staff to the senior leadership team. By making a couple of small tweaks in the way we think about innovation, we can continue to drive improvement, manage change and make healthcare better.

With nearly 30 years of healthcare experience, Debbie is passionate about helping hospitals and health systems align stakeholder engagement efforts to improve quality outcomes, experience, hospital operational success and brand loyalty from the same body of work. She thrives at helping organizations think smarter, not harder, about what initiatives will have the greatest positive impact on their organizations.

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