10 big ideas in healthcare innovation

From their thoughts on artificial intelligence's potential to optimize clinical workflows to their insight about how the pandemic is changing patient demands, here are 10 key quotes about the role of innovation in healthcare that executives from hospitals and health systems across the country shared with Becker's Hospital Review in September:

Aaron Martin, executive vice president and chief digital officer at Providence (Renton, Wash.): Health systems and integrated delivery networks are going to have to become very consumer-friendly in their digital footprint. They're going to have some very aggressive competitors move into the space, and COVID-19 has accelerated that. If you talked to me about a year and a half ago, I was going door to door to these health systems and saying, "We don't have a whole lot of time to get our act together from a digital consumer standpoint because big tech companies and great, smaller tech companies are coming in and they're going to be offering really compelling digital experiences for your commercial patient population, which is what funds your entire business. So if you don't do a great job, somebody else will."

Tom Andriola, vice chancellor of IT and data at UC Irvine (Calif.): We're a long way off for AI to be able to pick up subtleties of nonverbal cues and exhibit empathy — both mastering the technology and accepting it as an equivalent to the standard interaction. The key for me is in analog being supported by technology, what I refer to as "augmented intelligence" for AI.

Peter Kung, vice president and chief innovation officer at SCL Health (Broomfield, Colo.): Digital is having a spotlight, and it should, because like other industries it needs to go under that transformation but, again, it can't devolve into just the technology. That's not the service. It empowers everything else. We have trust with our patients. I think different health systems need to leverage that. They experienced the speed at which they could change during the pandemic and now it's a time to double down and establish that trust so it provides what we ultimately want: lower cost, better experience, better outcomes.

Ben Patel, chief information officer at Cone Health (Greensboro, N.C.): Drawing on consumer data insights provides capabilities for health systems to better recognize the needs of their communities and deploy resources to address patients' social determinants of health requirements.

Muthu Krishnan, PhD, chief digital transformation officer at IKS Health (Burr Ridge, Ill.): Innovation is about finding solutions for tasks that we repeatedly do, that make them faster, better and cheaper. Innovation can be "jugaad," or very mathematical/scientific, incremental or radical, and transformative or disruptive. Every successful company that is also a learning organization, like IKS, is using one of the tools under the umbrella of innovation to solve their industry's problems. IKS has a two-pronged approach to innovation: innovate our processes and innovate our products/services. All innovation is predicated on prior knowledge. So a strong team of subject matter, operating, technology and process innovation specialists are key to a successful innovation program.

Kathy Azeez-Narain, chief digital officer at Hoag Hospital (Newport Beach, Calif.): The patient or consumer is at the center of who we are building for, and we believe that true innovation within healthcare will matter if what we build or create improves the quality of care that we are able to provide. Whether it's a digital health solution or an advancement of treatment in our care facilities, technology paired with a defined problem, centered around the patient or consumer is key to our process and innovation strategy.

Adrienne Boissy, MD, chief experience officer at Cleveland Clinic: You know, technology applied en masse, doesn't work for the populations we most need to reach right now. Taking the time to invest in understanding both the patients that you serve, who are they? Who are their personas? Why don't they use virtual? What would they rather use? Do they need a phone call? Understanding their preferences around access and trust and what empathy feels like for them is a space I really don't know that we've spent enough time in.

Omer Awan, chief data and digital officer at Atrium Health (Charlotte, N.C.): There is tremendous necessity and opportunity associated with the role of AI in healthcare. It can automate image diagnosis, preliminary diagnosis, help reduce dosage errors, detect fraud, and provide great value with robot-assisted surgeries and virtual nursing assistants. This frees up time for the caregivers so they can practice at the top of their licenses.

Julie Bonello, senior vice president and chief information officer at Presbyterian Healthcare Services (Albuquerque, N.M.): With patients participating in their care, interoperability will allow providers to integrate health data over time with the tech that patients use in their home. … More and more you're going to find that clinical information will be shared to not only allow healthcare providers to better care for patients but to also allow patients to be actively engaged and really govern their care.

Jerry Fox, senior vice president and chief information officer at BJC HealthCare (St. Louis): Everyday consumer transactions have molded expectations for healthcare experiences; they expect you to know things about them. We are thinking about how technology can personalize the patient experience and we will continue to grow in that area.

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