Many healthcare systems aspire to improve patient, family, physician, and staff experience as part of their innovation efforts. Our innovation study revealed there’s more than one approach to reaching this goal.
In the push to find innovative ways to improve quality, lower costs, and withstand changing payment models in healthcare, the human connection of care can be lost.
At the University of Chicago Medicine (UCM), a diverse team makes sure that it is not.
“The first step in evaluating an innovation is to assess the readiness of the culture,” explained Sue Murphy, Chief Experience & Innovation Officer, in describing UCM’s approach. “Second, include the front line staff for their excitement and feedback. Third, tie it to empathy to select for something that makes patients feel engaged in their care, along with the caregiver.”
UCM operates under a decentralized model. Instead of having an innovation department or office, Sue works with a team that includes the chief medical officer and vice president for clinical effectiveness, the chief engagement and experience officer, and the senior vice president of patient care services. They share ownership for experience, innovation, and engagement across nursing, medicine, operations, and informatics.
For example, when UCM identified nurse leader rounding as a key strategy for driving quality, safety, and efficiency, the team worked to make sure the practice was limited to about 10 questions that included a way to track staff recognition for their hard work. The rounding questions were housed on an iPad. Within four months, this approach yielded over 2,800 positive staff recognitions – and the desired increases in patient satisfaction.
“We don’t implement new technology without remembering the importance of caring. The tool cannot be the driver. The caring questions need to come from the heart,” Sue said.
UCM’s approach to rounding offers a great example of an innovation that improves the human experience of care. The organization altered a technology-based intervention to make sure it helped establish a more holistic and trusted relationship between providers, patients, and their families. The Experience Innovation Network, part of Vocera, wanted to know more about how healthcare organizations do exactly that.
The Innovation Study
Over the summer of 2016, the Experience Innovation Network launched a study to examine how organizations keep the human experience front and center in their approaches to innovation. We found that many healthcare systems aspire to improve experience as part of their innovation efforts and that the path toward this outcome is varied and evolving.
Following are a few highlights from the study, which involved a survey of healthcare experience and innovation leaders, at the director-level and above, in the United States and Canada. We received more than 60 responses and had nine in-depth interviews:
- 46% reported that experience improvement was included as a goal of their innovation project portfolio, or that the project teams for innovation and for experience improvement met regularly. Another 4% were just starting to build approaches to coordinating these areas.
- 7% said their organization’s innovation vision statement mentioned experience improvement.
- 81% said that human-centered design was necessary to innovation in healthcare, but only 27% reported having design expertise or job roles brought into innovation management at their organization.
- 76% involved patients and families in innovation projects; for example, by involving them in simulation labs or co-designing solutions.
A Shared Goal with Multiple Approaches
Organizations that were effectively addressing both innovation and experience didn’t have one ‘right’ approach, but were taking multiple paths to sourcing, developing, testing, and rolling out new and valuable solutions. Here are a few of the critical attributes that leading organizations shared:
- Having C-level support for both innovation and experience improvement
- Selecting experience-related metrics to prioritize innovation projects and define success
- Highlighting improvements to physician and staff experience as a means of recruiting pilot sites and speeding the diffusion of successful innovation
At UCM, one key lesson learned was the power of even minor ‘humanization’ of change. For example, like many hospitals, UCM uses Lean Daily Management as a source of process-improvement ideas. A focus on efficiency could be something that dehumanizes the experience of delivering care. But UCM’s prioritization of experience improvement led to posting the question, “How will you make a difference for a patient today?” next to every board that shows data around Lean. As simple as this question is, it has enabled UCM to tie something as mechanized as process improvement back to the human connection of care. We predict this is what will make healthcare innovation successful.
For more insights into innovation the human experience, please download our full report.