NewYork-Presbyterian's recipe for innovation: 80% people, 15% process, 5% technology

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As senior vice president and chief transformation officer, Peter Fleischut, MD, leads NewYork-Presbyterian's innovation efforts by prioritizing the people and the process at the forefront, rather than on the underlying technology.

In these efforts, no initiative or idea is out of reach: Dr. Fleischut told Becker's Hospital Review there is no lack of resources or support from the New York City-based health system's leadership when it comes to developing and deploying innovative solutions to the challenges of healthcare delivery.

Here, Dr. Fleischut discusses the four distinct areas of NewYork-Presbyterian's innovation strategy and explains why technology alone isn't the miracle problem-solver it's often believed to be.

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: What does innovation look like at NewYork-Presbyterian?

Dr. Peter Fleischut: It really comes down to four major things that we focus on as an organization. First is standardization: We're very fortunate to be working with the physicians from Weill Cornell, Columbia and NewYork-Presbyterian on standardization throughout the organization. The second is regionalization: We've expanded a lot in providing care across Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and Westchester. We're also focusing on virtualization, which is the utilization of digital technologies to enhance end-to-end patient care. And the fourth is engagement of our employees.

Q: What's an innovation initiative that you're especially excited about?

PF: We started our telehealth initiative about three years ago, and since then, we've built about 50 telehealth programs. These programs cover everything from urgent to primary, specialty and remote patient monitoring care.

In our first year, our teams facilitated about 1,000 telehealth visits; in the second year, we performed roughly 10,000; and in the third year, we documented about 100,000 telehealth visits. As of halfway through this year, we had already completed an aggregated 500,000 visits, so we'll probably end the year somewhere around 1 million visits.

Q: Can you describe the process of developing and deploying that telehealth initiative?

PF: It really comes down to the people, the process and the technology: Engaging the people is 80 percent, focusing on the processes needed to enable telemedicine is another 15 percent, and then technology makes up the last 5 percent. It really is all about our physicians at NewYork-Presbyterian, Weill Cornell and Columbia, who are the differentiators in the care.

Q: What are some challenges to healthcare innovation? How do you overcome those obstacles?

PF: There are many. For example, with telemedicine, there's a lot of licensure, regulatory, reimbursement and workflow challenges that you need to embrace with any new innovation or transformation. Handling those challenges with robust communication and by working as a collaborative team is what helps us get to where we are today.

Another opportunity that can also pose a challenge is that as we embrace new technologies in healthcare, we need to use technology to level health disparities, not worsen them. With anything we roll out, we need to make sure it's available to all patient populations, including the underserved. We're fortunate enough to take care of one-third each of commercial, Medicare and Medicaid patients, and we need to make sure we use technology, innovation and transformation to really level health disparities. It's also critical that we're engaging our frontlines and training people for the future.

Q: What's a big mistake players in the industry are making when it comes to healthcare innovation?

PF: Probably the biggest mistake I see is the belief that technology can solve all healthcare problems. In actuality, technology only makes up 5 percent of innovation, so if you don't focus on the people and the process, you're going to make a mistake.

What that focus looks like is working with various teams, communicating with those teams, discussing operational readiness and change management, and really defining the processes and workflows for the future, as opposed to focusing solely on the technology. The technology's always going to work; it will not be a rate limiter in what needs to be done. Instead, the focus should be on rethinking the workflows, the change management and the operational readiness.

Q: What advice do you have for other healthcare innovators?

PF: Technology is not value-neutral. It's our job as leaders to ensure healthcare innovation is implemented in such a way that it ultimately improves the quality of care for patients, enhances the patient experience and results in adequate cost of and access to healthcare for everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status.

More articles on innovation:
UC Santa Cruz gifted $8.5M for genomics research
Strategies and innovations for consumerization and digital experience in 2020
Viewpoint: Longstanding management processes are holding back innovation

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