Key Takeaways: Evolution of Healthcare Systems

Key Takeaways: Evolution of Healthcare Systems

Picture this: you have a hospital campus with numerous buildings. Some have been built recently, while others have been around since the hospital opened a century ago. The newer buildings are likely filled with the most necessary components of the hospital: the emergency department, operating rooms, and higher tech machinery like MRI scanners. The older the building, the lower priority the functions in it are. They’re not necessary any longer, but they remain.  

Hospital buildings are like an organization’s systems and software. Newer systems are used regularly, feel more efficient and do more with fewer resources. Older systems, however, may remain only because we’re hesitant to part with them; we believe we might still use them. The evolution of healthcare, for both buildings and systems, is a slow process.

This was the idea of our latest LinkedIn Live with Joe Clemons and Ryan Sousa. If you were unable to attend the live session, we’ve compiled the key points to ensure your organization can remain ahead of the curve. Here are the six key takeaways to evolving your organization’s systems through a seamless transition.

Be comfortable with and embrace change

Before anything else can be accomplished, it’s necessary that the entire organization has a growth mindset; that means accepting change even when it seems easier to remain with tried-and-true methods or systems. Joe Clemons said, “I think one of the things that makes updating systems and processes so challenging is that many times there are reasons or co-dependencies for why or how things are set up. And over time, these can add up to lots of workarounds.” In short, explaining away the need for systems that have always been used can increase inefficiencies within your organization.  

Healthcare organizations also face the question of whether switching to or adding a new system will provide the same quality of care to patients. Ryan explains that through the increased collection and use of data, that question becomes easier to answer for any new system. If available data shows that a patient’s average wait time is longer than normal, for example, that data could then be translated into a system or process that aids in reducing that time.

Make data available to the entire organization

To get those answers, however, data needs to be made available to the entire organization. In doing so, everyone is on the same page, and more insights might be made. If data is siloed within your organization, fewer evolutions can be made to increase quality of care, and at a slower pace. Ryan Sousa explained that the digitization of data within the medical field has provided opportunities for organizations to solve problems as they arise—simply by looking at the data. “When data becomes digitized, there’s all these things that we can begin to do with it,” he explained. “We’re gaining the benefit now of being able to learn from the things that we do to continue improving how we deliver care.” 

Trust artificial intelligence and machine learning

To use data collected from a system, however, you first need to trust that any artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning (ML) being used is correct. It’s like a self-driving car; The technology is available, but you may not feel comfortable trusting yet. Joe explained, “That’s what comes to mind when I think about the efforts we’re making in terms of artificial intelligence and machine learning: the nostalgia of a person making the decision versus trusting the algorithms that have been put into place to be able to do that. That’s part of this evolution of healthcare—getting to that point where we trust technology.” 

Always have a “why”

The foundation underpinning the entire process of evolution is this: the concept of “why?” To improve as an organization, each project needs an established goal before the process has begun. As Joe explains, having a “why” in mind prior to beginning the process encourages the entire organization to buy into the project. It also creates a roadmap, as well as the timeline to completion. “If you think about it,” Joe explained, “we talk about the evolution of healthcare [over the course of a century or more]. It takes time. So, some of these roadmaps may be three to five years, but when you compare that to what it took to get us to where we are, it’s minuscule in comparison to that.” 

Focus is key

The biggest hurdle to overcoming a challenging evolution, Ryan explained, is focus. When clients want to change many things at once, the focus can become skewed, and nothing is accomplished. To successfully evolve, your organization should choose one area or system to upgrade at a time. As Ryan explains, “We come in and focus only on that one project that we want to get started. And sometimes that can be the genesis of getting us to where we want to go, and it turns into a snowball effect.”

Fail. Fail a lot

In healthcare, failure typically isn’t an option. In the OR, for example, a surgeon should ideally be following best practices that have been refined and approved while performing an open-heart surgery. To evolve as an organization, however, failure is necessary.  

After a project has been decided upon, your team should consider a few different approaches that could work—with the acceptance that failure is probable. As Ryan explains, “Don’t invest any more than you need to get started. Do something that is focused on solving a real pain point within the organization, and then deliver something as quickly as you can and then basically iterate on it.” If the approach fails, discontinue that work, and switch to a new action. In allowing your team to fail, you’re encouraging the better solution to come to light.  

“Failure is the best thing that you can have because it gets you to the right answer faster,” Joe said. “It’s important to not be afraid of failure. That’s going to steer us in the right direction.” 

On the Evolution of Healthcare

If you remember only one thing from this discussion, it should be that the key to any evolution within the healthcare field ultimately comes down to making the process better—for patients and providers. Ryan explained, “Right now, we’re good at intervention. We can also shift to prevention, which is really a powerful concept.” Joe agreed, stating, “In healthcare, we’re very reactive right now. The goal is to be proactive.”  

If your organization is ready to transition from being reactive to proactive, we’re ready to help you. Contact our team today to get started.