6 healthcare leaders share their most innovative ideas

Healthcare organizations continually strive to implement fresh and creative ideas to help them achieve success.

Becker's Hospital Review asked healthcare leaders to share the most innovative idea they've implemented. Below are their responses.

Note: Responses have been edited lightly for length and clarity.

Erin Asprec
Executive Vice President of Acute Care Services and Chief Transformation Officer at Memorial Hermann Health System (Houston)

As the healthcare industry changes around us, Memorial Hermann is actively working to evolve as well to keep pace with growing demands for care that is affordable and convenient. We need to do business differently, and who better to lead that transformation than our own employees?

I believe the people at the bedside working on the front lines of patient care often have the best ideas for change. That's why we launched an initiative called iGenerate, a virtual suggestion box where employees are encouraged to submit their best ideas for improving processes, streamlining operations, enhancing revenue and reducing costs, among other improvements.

This platform has quickly become an invaluable portal for brainstorming fresh ideas and implementing changes across our system. Our employees jumped at the opportunity to share their opinions, flooding the portal with hundreds of suggestions. This underscores that our employees are engaged and empowered, eager to share their out-of-the-box solutions and creative new ways for delivering care. Each idea that gets submitted is reviewed by our leadership team, and those concepts that can be implemented are put into place as soon as possible.

Other organizations that have used similar virtual suggestion boxes have reportedly generated substantial savings and revenue, and we are certainly noticing the same trend with our program already. We have implemented several of the ideas and we are seeing success in creating a better patient care experience that delivers more value to our consumers.

Marc Belcastro, DO
Vice President and CMO of Premier Health Miami Valley Hospital (Dayton, Ohio)

One of the things I'm passionate about is an area in healthcare that is often referred to as either patient satisfaction or the patient experience, which is measured by the government. But beyond the measurement and the scores — taking it to a deeper level — is the question of can you teach or institute empathy or compassion into your culture or is it something some people have, and some people don't. I believe the former. I believe you can. And one of the recent quotes that has inspired me to do something about this is by Coretta Scott King that says, "The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members." I thought about our culture at Premier Health and that if we could teach empathy and compassion, we wouldn't have to worry about the scores. They would be a natural outpouring of our culture.

One of the thoughts I had is a topic called implicit or unconscious bias, which is a bias that everybody has to something or a number of things. In a way it's a guilt-free bias because it's not a bias we are aware of. It's at an unconscious level, but it manifests itself in … things that we say or ways that we act based on images and upbringing.  In October, we did a PowerPoint presentation on implicit bias at three of our Premier campuses — Miami Valley main campus, Miami Valley Hospital South in Centerville, Ohio, and Miami Valley Hospital North in Englewood, Ohio — and it was an interactive presentation, with a link to an implicit assessment test that we encourage staff to go take and then cascade the PowerPoint presentation and test down to their staff meetings. You can take that quick test, and it gives you a measurement on yourself. We also gave them links of where you can go to talk about what types of mental and sort of introspective exercises you can do to become more aware and mitigate implicit biases once you discover where your biases exist. We did focus this presentation on race and skin color. The other place we are doing that right now is in our women's and infant services.

Brett Norell
President and CEO of Holy Family Memorial (Manitowoc Wis.)

Holy Family Memorial, like many small community hospitals, continues to be challenged by declining reimbursement as well as competition from larger systems. In recent months, we are getting back to basics by focusing on patient experience, quality, our Catholic-focused culture and reducing our prices. While some may not consider this "innovative," we feel these are necessary to growing our patient volumes and thus allowing us to continue advance our mission in the community we serve. It is critical in today's world of healthcare consumerism where patients shop for both experience and price that we get this right. For example, we are beginning to redesign and lower our pricing particularly for those services that often end up being paid out of pocket. This shows our commitment to the community we have been a part of for nearly 120 years.

Andrew Racine, MD
CMO of Montefiore Health System (Bronx,N.Y.)

Almost 70 percent of adults in this country who have depression or anxiety, also have other medical conditions. This is one reason we began offering behavioral health services in our primary care sites. We found that when primary care providers work together with care managers, social workers and psychiatrists — patients are more likely to get and stay in care. It is a model we have been refining to make it as sustainable and effective as possible so that other primary care practices around the country — even ones with little resources — can implement it. This is done on an unusually large scale amidst a complex population. We do this for over 300,000 patients in the Montefiore Medical Group.

On the pediatric side, we have implemented a program called Healthy Steps to screen children from birth for behavioral health issues. This national program helps providers identify when parents need extra support in developing a relationship with their child. If appropriate, the caregiver and child are able to see a psychologist during a child's well-visit. Starting early and in a primary care setting allows for prevention — something healthcare historically has not invested in — but we believe leads to healthier communities.

We are proud of being at the forefront of delivering high-quality behavioral healthcare in the primary care setting. Our focus is on removing obstacles to care and taking a holistic approach so we can improve the overall health of our patients.

Scott Rogers 
System Director of Performance Integration and Innovation at CoxHealth (Springfield, Mo.)

At CoxHealth, we're always looking towards our people for great ideas of ways to innovate and enhance our patients' experiences. One way we've recently done that is through Imprivata PatientSecure, a system we implemented that ties each patient's palm vein pattern to his or her medical record. In healthcare, we have many patients with the same first and last names; in fact, as we know, the nation’s number one patient safety goal is correct identification. This system helps CoxHealth fill that need by ensuring that — via a palm scan — the correct patient is always connected with the appropriate medical record. We are the first health system in Missouri to implement that cutting-edge technology, and it's been a great success since its roll-out a few months ago.

Sara Vaezy
Chief Digital Strategy Officer of Providence St. Joseph Health (Seattle)

At Providence St. Joseph Health's digital innovation group, we support the PSJH vision of health for a better world by building technology that makes health and healthcare more accessible, convenient, and personalized. We're continuously innovating to solve the biggest challenges in our industry. That said, as a new mother, the Circle by Wildflower app is close to my heart. The app was created in collaboration with our clinicians who wanted to ensure our patients regularly receive curated, relevant, provider-approved family and children's health resources through a single integrated platform. The app serves as a personalized source of information for parents, providing resources on everything from breastfeeding to teenager interactions. Circle provides content, tools and trackers, and is integrated into our electronic medical record. It's one of the ways we're interacting with our patients in a more personalized way in order to build enduring relationships and engage with our patients on an ongoing basis.



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