Practical tips on how to implement digital health solutions and be more innovative in healthcare.
How can you create a culture of innovation in a medical company which supports the implementation of new digital health solutions? Here are several practical tips on how to overcome IT-related challenges.
The ABC of innovation culture
An IT system’s main purpose is to support administrative processes, seeing as they are the dominant type of processes in every facility and only serve to disrupt strictly medical activities – contact with patients, medical care, treatment, rehabilitation, etc. According to various estimates, 20% of all processes in health care are purely medical, while 80% is just administration. The latter take up so much time that they frustrate both doctors, who want to deal with patients, not stacks of documents, and the patients themselves, who need attention and empathy. While these proportions cannot really be changed, it is possible for the 80% to be automated or done quicker thanks to the use of appropriate IT solutions. However, it is important to remember that IT on its own will not suffice. If real change is what you are looking for, you have to look at the bigger picture and foster a culture of innovation. Reshaping old work rules, habits and patterns is not easy, and it is natural to encounter resistance. It also does not happen overnight – it requires hard work from everyone, good communication with all employees and transparency.
Whether a company is innovative or not is determined by numerous factors: from the attitude of the executives to its organisational culture. Below are several practical tips on how to be more innovative:
- Aim high. Set bold goals to serve as motivation. Instead of saying that implementing an IT system should decrease service time by 10%, be ambitious and try to aim for 90% instead. If you set the bar this high, it will motivate you to generate ideas. A goal like this is sure to convince your staff.
- Fail fast. Keep tabs on every project and respond quickly as a manager. If the old IT system causes issues, generates exorbitant costs and is of little benefit, be quick to take steps to remedy that.
- Change your perspective. Working on an IT project? Make sure all employees and even patients are involved, not only your IT personnel, who, while they may know the technical requirements, rarely understand your internal medical and patient care procedures.
- Take smart risks. If a project involves risk which you cannot control, move away from it. Before you choose a system, make sure that you will be able to justify your decision to your employees if things do not go according to plan.
- Control the change process. Periodically review your computerisation goals to make corrections in your IT project.
- Don’t forget your priorities. Some elements must always come first. Medical data security is an example of this.
- Forbidden words. Do you discuss IT system implementation with your employees? In the first few meetings, make it forbidden to use words and phrases which hinder creative thinking. These include: GDPR, no money, legal reasons, it’s not feasible, etc. When your project becomes reality, you will find a way to overcome any financial and legal challenges.
- A coalition of good intentions. There will always be people who are opposed to your IT project. Balance them out by finding people who want to implement new IT solutions and have a passion for technology.
- Don’t count on chance. Plot your project out in detail so that you can just progress through the steps.
An example of design thinking in optimising patient experience at the Oslo University Hospital. Every stage of a patient’s hospital visit is presented using simple sketches. Patients, doctors, nurses and administrative personnel were all involved in their creation. This allowed for potential bottlenecks to be detected, and the entire process was then redesigned accordingly. The project was executed with Designit (photo credit: Designit)
From the author: This article I wrote after reading an inspirational book by Lucien Engelen “Augmented Health(Care). The end of the beginning.”