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CHEF TALKS: Advocate-Aurora Shares Insights on Innovation in First “Learning from Leaders” Webinar

by Allison Scherer, Co-Chair, CHEF Communications Committee, and Director, Corporate Communications, Health Care Service Corporation

In CHEF’s first “Learning from Leaders” webinar, Advocate-Aurora executives advised that innovation requires bravery, practice and ongoing learning. Advocate-Aurora is building a dedicated innovation function to support their 27-hospital, 2-state system under the leadership of Minni Marwaha, Vice President, Core Innovation, who is a 12-year Advocate operational veteran, and Naveed Moosa, Director of Business Ventures, who brings a broad spectrum of innovation expertise from other industries and countries.

Moderated by Georgia Casciato, FACHE, Managing Director-Healthcare, Syntegrity and past CHEF President, the conversation took some unusual turns. “What do Crayola, McDonald’s and Netflix have in common with health care companies?” she asked. Like health care, every industry is being or has been disrupted. Companies are attacked on all sides by competitors who can do it faster, cheaper or differently. The pace of change is accelerating, and companies need to reinvent themselves to stay relevant. Crayola jumped on the trend of adults coping with stress by coloring. McDonald’s continues being challenged by consumer demand for fresh, healthy and convenient food. Netflix disrupted the video industry – unseating Blockbuster Video – and now has expanded beyond content delivery to content creation.

The Advocate team discussed their approach and guiding principles to bring best practices from all industries into healthcare and their role in supporting their system’s ambitious business growth goal to double in size in the next five years.

Some of the key takeaways were:

  • Innovation takes courage. Practice being brave, and create safe spaces for being brave, e.g., 30 min of team meeting, designate a special conference room.
  • Seek innovation at the level of your business model. Ask: Who are my customers? What services do they need? Are we providing this? How do we make money by providing this?
  • Innovative thinking should be practiced across the organization. Think more globally (e.g., across state lines). Don’t tie innovation to geography and physical location. You don’t want to silo innovation in an office offsite. Bring innovation to all areas – not a separate function – spread message across organization. Cultivate champions: take ideas from ideation to implementation but involve everyone in the organization. Infuse innovation into your culture.
  • To improve the patient experience, use design thinking tools and a creative problem-solving approach. Start with the end user and design products or services to meet their needs. What are they trying to achieve (examine what we do and how we do it)? Think about the life they are living and identify their challenges. See the person as whole person and their family as a unit. Think beyond their current interaction with your clinic.
  • When choosing collaborators, partners and vendors, consider whether you want to work together. Does the company have good people with a good story? Is there some personal connection and passion for the solution? Be wary if the company’s story is related to Medicaid beginning to reimburse some new codes.
  • “Return on learning” (ROL) is the most appropriate metric to measure the success of innovation. Ask “what have you learned?” and how can you apply it to your business model? Focusing on return on investment (ROI) will kill innovation. Take a hard look at what you’re working on. Ask whether this will this move us forward in an innovative way.

“Think bigger, broader and in new boxes. Innovation is about discovery and trying new things. Reflect on new ideas using a business model lens,” said Naveed Moosa. “In healthcare, we have highly passionate and compassionate people. Innovation should bottle that passion and purpose and apply it beyond your four walls.”

The next CHEF TALKS “Learning from Leaders” webinar is scheduled for August 13 at Noon. The leadership of Access Community Healthcare, CEO Donna Thompson and COO Ann Lundy, will discuss care transformation with a focus on healthcare for underserved communities. For more information, visit ACHE/CHEF members receive 1 ACHE Qualified Education credit for each webinar they attend.

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