The COVID-19 pandemic has led to many technology innovations in health care. The most noticeable transformation is the rise of telehealth with claims skyrocketing from less than 0.01% of total visits to 80% of behavioral health visits during the first quarter of the pandemic (see How’s That Strategic Plan Going?). We predict consumers and payers alike will continue to expect virtual service delivery as part of everyday service long after the pandemic has ended. How can organizations can continue innovating after the pandemic has passed?
There are two big trends to focus on—the first is virtualization and the second is digital transformation. At Qualifacts + Credible, the focus continues to be on helping behavioral health and human services agencies improve clinical outcomes, enhance operations, and activate their full potential through the use of an EHR.
Not only will consumers continue to engage virtually with their providers post-pandemic, but consumers will continue to expect some level of integrated telehealth functionality. Not all provider visits lend themselves well to telehealth and not all consumers will want to meet virtually, but everyone will expect to see some telehealth options for routine care. And provider organizations will find a way to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to streamline routine tasks like notetaking.
Organizations have to be strong operationally at their core business in order to be effective and successful. At the same time, they have to have a somewhat less structured environment for managing innovation. To set your provider organization up for success and continue to innovate you should:
- Empower employees to innovate. Managers sometimes fear that encouraging innovation among their staff will distract them from their everyday jobs. If you want your teams to innovate, make sure you include those expectations on job descriptions. There are too many organizational constraints available that deter innovation—and the best way to overcome them is for the C-suite has to sponsor the innovation.
- Incentivize innovative thinking/ideas. Empowering employees usually isn’t enough—think about ways to incentivize them through bonuses, contests, and/or unstructured time off. The reward doesn’t have to be an all-expenses-paid trip to the Caribbean, just something to show employees you value their ideas, such as gift cards to restaurants or retailers.
- Designate an innovation leader. Not every staff member is a born innovator so rather than ask everyone to dedicate 5% of their time to it, consider making it a job responsibility for the staff member in charge of innovation for the organization. An empowered, dedicated leader can make a big difference.
- Be open to failure. Make sure you cultivate a culture that is willing to accept that not all ideas can be homeruns and failures will happen. Innovation requires being brave enough to be willing to experiment and tolerate failures.
- Foster collaboration. Many employers have had to scramble this past year figuring out telework solutions on the fly to keep businesses running. This has disrupted how we previously brainstormed. With the expectation that clinicians and staff will continue to work remotely, businesses must find ways to foster collaboration and relationships when there is no shared water cooler for gathering and sharing ideas.
- Hire with an eye toward innovation. One question to ask is if the organization has the competencies necessary to innovate or needs supplemental competencies. When hiring for a position, think about which candidate would bring new ideas and challenge current thinking. Consider adding innovation case studies or scenarios to the hiring process to see what ideas candidates come up with. Even if the candidate does not ultimately take the job, you may still find some good ideas.
- Talk to your customers. No one knows more about your business than your current customers. Make it a regular part of the job to check in with your clients to see what’s happening for them and ways your organization can help. Due to the pandemic, we haven’t had the luxury of attending business networking events so use these customer check-ins to find out what’s happening in the market.
- Innovate, innovate, innovate. Just because you have well-liked product offerings now, doesn’t mean it will always be that way. There will always be someone else coming along that is better, faster, and/or cheaper. To stay at the top of the game, you need to constantly be looking to innovate.
To hear more about the innovations happening in health and human services technology, listen to Joe Naughton-Travers, Senior Associate at OPEN MINDS and Eric Arnson, Chief Product Officer at Qualifacts + Credible discuss how performance and outcomes play a critical role in your future success in a recording of the session, “Why Measuring Performance & Tracking Outcomes Are Your Roadmap to Success: A Discussion With Eric Arnson, Chief Product Officer, Qualifacts + Credible.”