Expecting it to happen organically doesn’t always work …you have to devote the right resources to it. And the changing healthcare landscape only makes innovation all the more challenging. A healthcare provider’s world is in a state of constant transition: moving from volume to value. So how can you set up your organization to innovate swiftly while in this transition?
At Cardinal Health, innovation has in many ways been the fuel that has taken us from a regional drug distributor to the Fortune 26 healthcare solutions company we are today. But it’s never been easy. The fact is, we face many of the same innovation challenges that our health system customers face - organizational complexity, multiple priorities and limited time and resources.
In 2014, birthed from our goal to solve healthcare’s toughest challenges, Cardinal Health opened an innovation lab we call Fuse. At Fuse, great ideas are shared among diverse minds, vetted each day and turned into impactful healthcare solutions. Here are five strategies we use at Fuse that can help keep innovation as a constant in your organization, too:
Innovation is meant to solve problems. Until you experience your end user’s world, it’s difficult to identify the problems and pain points that are worth pursuing. For health systems, end users can include any person who plays a part in care delivery – a frontline nurse, a patient intake specialist, an IT analyst, or, most obviously, a patient. But all too often, we can get so wrapped up in our day-to-day tasks that we don’t take the time to really understand health care delivery from the perspective of each of these end-users.
To help counter that challenge, Fuse employees commit to visiting at least two customer sites each year. They should be able to close their eyes and see the workflow – or ‘business in action’ – at the customer’s facility, from the customer’s point of view.
We are equally as committed to inviting customers into our world. We have a target of at least 100 customer visits to Fuse, each year: medical product and drug manufacturers, hospital leaders, physicians, pharmacists, patients, practice managers, caregivers and other innovators. Just a few months ago, we welcomed MedStar Health and team members from their innovation center, MedStar Institute for Innovation (MI2), to Fuse for a strategy-sharing and collaboration session. As a result of that meeting, we are exploring several potential collaboration projects focused on advancing health and wellness.
We also look for ways to meaningfully engage those who visit our facility. For example, this past summer, when several practice managers and owners of oncology clinics were visiting, we hosted a “Shark Tank” like event, where various teams pitched technology concepts. Our guests voted for the concept they liked best. Eight weeks later, we had developed that winning idea into a working prototype for the practice managers to evaluate, and 11 of the 12 said they’d use it on the spot.
It’s this constant exposure to others who share our commitment to improving healthcare, and to other organizations that are committed to innovation, that keeps us focused on our purpose. It’s that exposure that helps us remember the urgency of our work. It keeps us curious, and drives us to learn how to do everything better. And in the end, isn’t that really what innovation is really about?
Want to visit our innovation lab? We’d love to have you. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know you’d like to meet. We look forward to learning from you.