You’ve been hearing a lot about innovation in the Safety Net. Maybe you have even been to a workshop or two. Maybe you’ve tried to make change in your organization. We know, it’s not easy.
We’re glad you found theinnovationhubs.org and hope we can provide you with incredible content that helps you innovate at your own organization.
As part of our 10-week Quick Start Email Course, we wrote down the 5 essential foundations we think everyone should have in place as they begin to work on new solutions for care. You can sign up for the course at the end of this article. (Read, don’t skip ahead!)
We thought sharing these 5 foundations, on the site, would be a great way for more people to get a taste of what’s in the email course. So let’s get started.
When you decide to take on a significant new project, do you just dive right in and start working on it? No, of course not. First of all, you’ve probably been thinking about the project for a while.
Your mental preparation involves a lot of critical thinking about the project. “How could I approach it?” “Where will I get the resources?” “What tools do I need?” “Who should I tell about it?”And you probably thought about what the world would look like if you completed the project. That’s “vision” and good motivation for getting started!
It is no different with pursuing new solutions for care. To be successful, you really need to think about and prepare for the project. And, you need to run the project under the right conditions.
Here are 5 essential foundations you should have in place to begin pursuing new solutions to care.
1. Supportive Leadership
Without exception, people who are piloting new solutions to care emphasize the critical benefit of supportive leadership. The likelihood is low that a renegade innovator can will the organization into productive change.
Your leadership needs to be onboard. What does that really mean?
They explicitly allow the time and resources for you to pursue new solutions. It really doesn’t matter the amount, as you’ll need to work with what you can secure. But the simple fact that some amount of resources are allocated establishes the effort as legitimate.
If you have senior leader buy-in, you are well positioned to proceed. If you don’t, the next item provides an effective place to start.
2. Measurable Objectives Aligned with Organizational Goals
New solutions or innovative care models are not some silver bullet to completely transform your organization’s approach healthcare.
It is much better to think about new solutions as answers to challenges your organization currently faces and is trying to address.
So if your organization is trying to reduce readmissions, engage the community, improve the patient experience, or better use labor across the clinic, then those are the possible projects for your innovation efforts. If you’re not aligned with how the organization is trying to improve, you’re unlikely to garner much support.
Second, establish an impact hypothesis. That is, state what aspect of the care experience you will improve and the metric that measures it. Characterize how you will gather the data to evaluate and demonstrate the idea’s impact.
Aligning with existing goals and showing how your effort will measurably impact it should capture the attention of leadership as well as other people in the organization responsible for those goals.
So align your objective with one or more challenges the organization is already trying to solve and show that you’ll measure one or more specific metrics to prove impact.
3. Human Centered Design Skills
What type of skills are needed to implement new solutions to care? In our experience, one of the most transformative skill sets is the use of design.
You may have heard the terms Design Thinking and Human Centered Design (HCD). These are relatively recent professional skill sets that come out of a combination of creative and analytic disciplines. For example, the human centered part comes from the social sciences and designing for people. There are also historical connections to urban planning, systems thinking, and operational research.
The principles and skills are a very strong addition to traditional management, financial, market research, and technical know how. Why? Because they are concerned with understanding the current situation and creating a better way of doing things. It assumes that the solution to the objective
Human centered design skills emphasize looking at the situation in a new way and in a holistic (systems) way.
It emphasizes understanding the true experience of people in the system. (Patients, providers, staff, family members, etc.)
And it looks to create solutions that are fundamentally different rather than making incremental improvements to the existing situation.
We’ll cover the basics of a Human Centered Design approach in our next course segment.
4. Cross Departmental Collaboration (Relationships!)
Remember the first point of this lesson about preparing? The need to engage a wide range of people in the organization may be the most over-looked aspect.
It’s understandable, however. Our organizations are set up to operate efficiently. Organizational charts and departments are created to define what work is done by whom. It separates people and responsibilities so they can get their work done. This is the benefit of the famed silos.
But silos don’t work well for new solutions to care. Especially one’s that are different than how we operate today. You can feel the gears grinding as I mention it!
So, to successfully pursue a pilot, you need to start building relationships across the organization. Sometimes a simple visit, an introduction, and a few questions can get things started.
Of course, you’ll encounter strange looks! Skepticism may run high. But that’s OK, you’re in this for the long term. Starting to meet others and understand their critical role in the organization will help you anticipate challenges moving forward. You’ll need good working relationships to make things happen.
5. Patience, Optimism, and an Iterative Approach
The final piece of foundation has a lot to do with you. You’ll need to be patient. Pursuing new solutions is a marathon, not a sprint.
But you’ll pair patience with optimism and a little enthusiasm for the goal and journey. This is how you’ll build momentum over the long term.
Piloting a new solution isn’t at all like having an idea and getting it implemented. It’s much more of an iterative journey that will build the solution over time. You will run into unexpected issues or situations on a regular basis. Those need to be embraced! You cannot anticipate or plan everything. Failures and set backs are part of the journey. It is how you learn. It is how value is created.
OK, that is certainly enough for an email lesson! I hope you have made it this far and the ideas have been valuable. Again, let us know what you think.
What suggestions do you have for others preparing to try something new?