Innovation or Disruption?

By | October 20, 2018

Sue Schade, Principal, StarBridge Advisors (Former CIO, Univ. Michigan Hospitals & Health Centers)

“You only call it a disruption because you didn’t create it – stop being disrupted, innovate.” That was one of the messages in the opening keynote from Terry Jones at the fifth annual Thought Leaders on Access Symposium (ATLAS) in Boston this week. His talk was titled “Turning Disruption OFF and Turning Innovation ON.”

An entrepreneur with an impressive history, Terry Jones knows what he’s talking about. He is best known for founding Travelocity.com and serving as founding Chairman of Kayak.com. As consumers, we’ve experienced the disruptive innovations in the travel industry. As healthcare leaders, we were challenged by Terry to consider the innovations and disruptions yet to come in our industry.

ATLAS is a patient access conference for hospital and health system leaders sponsored by Kyruus, a software firm that offers provider search, scheduling, and data management solutions to help health systems match patients with the right providers and enhance patient access enterprise-wide. This year’s theme — “Systemness. Ignited.” — featured excellent speakers on innovation and digital transformation in healthcare. The focus of the conference was on patient and consumer engagement. Health systems such as Banner Health and Piedmont Healthcare, leaders in transforming the patient experience, shared their stories.

It was inspiring to see so many healthcare leaders passionate about improving the patient experience. I’ve been in health IT management for decades and I was humbled to hear leaders from marketing, patient access, and innovation teams talk about getting things done in spite of roadblocks often faced in IT.

I served as a panelist for the session, “Getting Buy-In for Digital Innovation at Your Health System,” along with Matt Roman, Chief Digital Strategy Officer at Duke University Health System; Don Stanziano, Chief Marketing Officer at Geisinger; and James Terwilliger, VP of Clinical Services at Montefiore. Judy Murphy, Chief Nursing Officer for IBM Global Healthcare, moderated.

We had a lively discussion on the structural approach to innovation and where it lives in an organization, how to scale innovation, and how to work with IT. I am a big proponent of IT leaders partnering with the health system’s leaders responsible for innovation if it’s not within the IT department. To be successful, innovation needs to happen from the bottom up. You need a culture that supports and encourages it. Innovation can’t be one person or team’s responsibility. Having said that, support and funding must come from the top of the organization.

Edmondo Robinson, Chief Transformation Officer at Christiana Care Health System, did a presentation on “How to Drive Transformation in Healthcare Delivery.” He emphasized that it’s about people, process and culture first, and lastly technology as an enabler.

Having served as CIO in four different healthcare organizations during the past several years, I’ve seen different models and approaches to innovation. There is no one-size-fits-all model. But I think we all can agree that innovation means change and disruption. And as Terry Jones said, “If you don’t like change, you are going to like irrelevance even less.”

[This piece was originally published on Sue Schade’s blog, Health IT Connect. Follow her on Twitter at @sgschade.]

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