8 big ideas in healthcare innovation

From their thoughts on how the digital health field will change in 2021 to how hospitals can roll out technologies to improve patient engagement, here are eight 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 the past 30 days:

John Couris, CEO, Tampa General Hospital: There is a tendency in our industry to think that building our way out of a problem is the only way out of the problem. We are wired to think that if we have a length-of-stay problem, we should build more beds to increase capacity and improve throughput. But then the health system builds more beds, and the length of stay stays the same. We believe we have to build when there's a new need to build, but we also have to do a better job with what we currently have and become more efficient and effective driving quality in a sustainable way.

Chris Coburn, chief innovation officer, Mass General Brigham (Boston): COVID-19 management and learnings will dominate healthcare in 2021 as they did in 2020. Among them will be restructuring and optimizing supply chains. There will be increased intelligence and AI in nearly every supply chain category.

Chris Stenzel, vice president of national business development and innovation, Kaiser Permanente (Oakland, Calif.): I see opportunities to partner with organizations like Best Buy and others to bring their massive footprint, whether it be digital or in person, as well as their consumer orientation and technology expertise to improve quality, the consumer experience and lower costs.

Rick Shumway, president and CEO, Stanford Health Care — ValleyCare (Livermore, Calif.): People need to feel like they can step out on a ledge and step out on a limb in thinking differently about how we do things or have done things. If people are afraid of what might happen if they try something and it doesn't work, they'll stop trying, and they'll stop talking, and then the reality is, your innovation program, as well-structured and well-meaning as it might be, really stalls and doesn't work in the way that it needs to.

Mohan Nair, senior vice president and chief innovation officer, Cambia Health Solutions (Portland, Ore.): The COVID-19 pandemic and mental health crisis will collide and demand attention. This will enable and force us to face our isolation but recognize our interconnected humanity, our compassion, and our empathy for others. Digital technologies, like telehealth, digital therapeutics and artificial intelligence/machine learning, are all candidates to catalyze a new world with a common cause.

Susan Turney, MD, CEO, Marshfield (Wis.) Clinic Health System: [Innovation] really happens from the people who are doing the work on the ground and coming up with great ideas, so that really needs to be baked into an organization's culture. I write a weekly communication to all of our staff, and one of our messages consistently is, "Ask questions, make suggestions, tell us how to improve," and it doesn't matter what you do in the organization to bring ideas forward, it matters that you take the time to share, because good ideas have come from across our enterprise from some of the least likely places.

Omkar Kulkarni, chief innovation officer at Children's Hospital Los Angeles: 2021 will be a year of realignment in digital health. As provider systems adjust to the next normal, they will find that consumer preferences for convenience, experience and cost are even stronger than before the pandemic. This will drive health systems to lean on digital tools to bridge gaps in their care delivery models. Health systems will look to virtual care offerings as differentiators in their competitive markets, especially when coupled with remote monitoring and digital therapeutic offerings that can provide wraparound virtual services. Finally, digital connectivity will be recognized as a social determinant of health, and health systems will begin to partner with internet service providers to bridge the digital divide for their most vulnerable populations.

Tony Ambrozie, senior vice president and chief digital officer, Baptist Health South Florida (Miami): Technology must work for our customers, not the other way around. Start with the customer — needs, services, experiences and interactions — and walk back to what the technology needs to be and how it would work and work well. Customer engagement really requires being where the customer is and wants to be.

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