Becker's Health IT + Clinical Leadership + Pharmacy: 3 Questions with Rebecca Kaul, Chief Innovation Officer for The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Rebecca Kaul, MBA, serves as Chief Innovation Officer for The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

On May 3rd, Rebecca will give a keynote presentation on "Leveraging Innovation to Optimize Experience" at Becker's Health IT + Clinical Leadership + Pharmacy conference. As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the conference, which will take place May 2-4, 2019 in Chicago.

To learn more about the conference and Rebecca's session, click here.

Question: What do innovators/entrepreneurs from outside healthcare need to better understand about hospital and health system leaders?

Rebecca Kaul: Innovators/entrepreneurs from outside of healthcare need to understand that what healthcare desperately needs is not innovative technology alone, but first and foremost it is an experience (for both patients and providers) that can elevate that care and compassion that is provided to patients. Technology designed with these principles top of mind, that can seamlessly integrate in the complex, generally dated systems typically used in healthcare is essential as these older or less optimally designed systems will not be retired immediately. To achieve this, partnering with providers on product development can significantly increase the probability of success. In addition, true innovation will not occur with technology alone, the operational models will need to be changed to properly leverage the technology and deliver an enhanced experience. The change management and cultural implications will require more creativity and drive than the development itself.

Q: What one strategic initiative will demand the most of your time and energy in 2019?

RK: We are committed to driving the best experience for our patients while enabling as many people to access the innovative treatments and care that we have to offer. We are actively designing a new strategy to reach more patients and stay connected to them at all times so that care is not limited by our brick and mortar presence, but is embedded in all aspects of the patients life to make their journey as comfortable and informed as possible. This new experience encompasses innovative technology, new business models, creative facilities design and fresh engagement methods.

Q: Healthcare takes a lot of heat for not innovating quickly. What's your take on this?

RK: This statement resonates with me because when you are working in an environment where lives are at stake, there is a higher burden of evidence to cross for true, scalable adoption. In addition, healthcare at its core is centered on healing patients and saving lives, which tends to lead to a culture that is generally more risk adverse and thoughtful. Finally, healthcare is fraught with a high regulatory burden that has to be managed through the innovative process.

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