Let’s Innovate Innovation

Innovation, what every health care organization strives to encourage. But it is so difficult, the entrenched systems, procedures, people and culture make it almost impossible to implement significant change or even small incremental changes for that matter.

I recently had experience at one of the nation’s leading hospitals obtaining a simple imaging test. I was amazed at all of the steps and people involved before I had the 30-minute examination. The tech could not have been nicer, the test performed more accurately, the physician read, responsive and the cost to me, out of pocket not too bad.

As I went through the process however, there were probably at least 10 people involved from the scheduler (who had the test down inaccurately… another note on this later) to the person who called me in advance to obtain payment, to the multiple receptionists that I talked with on the way to the registration desk. No telling how many are involved in the billing process with the insurance company.

If airlines ran like hospitals…lines would snake out the door from people lining up at counters to buy tickets, change flights or check luggage, not to mention the multitude of different waiting rooms before boarding a flight…that seldom left on time.

Airlines, due to economic stress, had to re-invent themselves. Eliminate scores of agents, make customers become their own travel agents and even reconfigure planes so that two pilots are needed instead of three. Did airlines over the past decade use “innovation” to reshape themselves…no! when they tried, they failed miserably, remember “Ted” from United or “Song” from Delta? If you do you remember what a disaster they were,

Today, innovation gets “killed’ by IT with the simple statement of…Epic is going to do this…or Cerner is planning on this…or it is not in our current priority list. Frustrating for certain.

Bottom up change works…when people see a problem and try and fix it…when as in the airline example management was forced to relook at operations and take major corrective action. Think in the airline example, about the airline app that you use today versus the first generation of apps 10 years ago. You can sit on the plane before take-off and see if your bag made it on the flight. Most hospitals cannot even tell where a patient or a staff member is in real time. Patients are a little more important than that your clothes (maybe not).

So what to do…we need to re-think the process that we are using to make both incremental change as well as major structural change. I am very pessimistic about major structural change given the deep and strongly entrenched interests in maintaining the status quo.

What if we did patient self service registration via an app? What if your on-line appointment app greeted you when you drove to the hospital and directed you where to park and where to go…an let the staff know that you had arrived? Novel, no just what is expected in today’s world.

But what would we do with the registration staff? Could we ever accept that the patient would self-register accurately or sign all of the required paper work?

Tell the administrative side of the organization that they are going to lose 10% of their staff every year for the next five years and you will see how quickly things will change…and guess what, customer service will improve!! Service levels go up and costs go down! What a deal!

There is innovation and new processes occurring in your organization everyday, from the bottom up. There are best practices on one unit that is never known about in another area of the organization, especially in multi-site organizations. Sharing best practices are a real start in the improvement journey.

So here is the question for you, we at Repp are looking for organizations that want to come together to share leading practices on how they are making changes in their operating processes, both administrative and clinical. Organizations that want to create best practice sharing within their organization and share potentially those practices outside of their organization.

This is a passion of ours, as it is time that health care become really focused on improving the delivery of care. We are not going to be able to tackle the big things until we start doing the little things better. We want to be part of this process.

e-mail me at Michael@repphealth.io to let me know if you have interest in being part of this movement

Michael A. Sachs

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