Tampa General CEO: Calling all innovators

Often, healthcare leaders write columns to share best practices, innovative ideas or organizational success. And while I have been fortunate to present that type of work here, today I am writing to solicit feedback, find collaboration opportunities and receive ideas on how to meet a critical challenge.

What has become clear to me over the last several years is that innovation — and by that, I mean finding new ways to operate and deliver care — is critical to the long-term success of our industry. 

The U.S. healthcare system continues to be challenged by unrelenting rising costs and stagnant quality. Unless we, inside the industry on the provider side, find ways to break healthcare's Gordian Knot — providing high-quality and accessible care that is affordable for providers, payors, employers, and patients — it will be done for us, and that will not benefit our industry or the consumers we serve.

But I recognize that this is much, much easier said than done. The truth is igniting and driving innovation is the most challenging undertaking of my 30-year-plus career. Sometimes it's as if I am trying to push new ideas through quicksand. 

Innovation, specifically innovation with a goal of eliciting significant change, requires being open to new ideas and approaches — reframing what we know to be true, taking risks and seeing new possibilities to accomplish big things. It also requires a fair amount of trust — trust that your team members and your partners' ideas are strong and that you all have the same end goal in mind. As human beings, welcoming change and trusting others doesn't always come easy. This challenge or resistance to the unknown is compounded by the fact that we are in an industry with the biggest stakes imaginable — human life.

As I look to make the real, substantive change critically needed in our industry, I find myself challenging one side of the table — those who are extremely cautious, skeptical and suspicious of change and have been in this industry and operating at status quo for years — to think differently, understand that we must change to thrive and to take calculated and well-thought-out risks. At the same time, I am holding back the other side of the table — those who want to do too much too soon. Often, this results in the grinding of gears and not much movement.

And so, today I am looking away from the table at which I have a seat and looking outward for answers and novel approaches to tackling this challenge and others we face as an industry. I want to make space for collaboration as not one person has all the answers. I know I can learn from others and believe that through a sharing of ideas along with smart innovation we can propel this industry forward. 

Do you want to join me? Are you interested in sharing ideas? How are you finding success — small wins or big changes? Do you have challenges on which you could use a fresh perspective? If so, I am eager to hear from you and engage and listen. Please reach out to me at jcouris@tgh.org and share your thoughts and experiences. I look forward to hearing from you and learning more.

John Couris is president and CEO of Florida Health Sciences Center. You can follow him and hear more on LinkedIn.

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