How to be Innovative – On the Cheap!

Craig Joseph, MD
By: Craig Joseph, MD
Date: August 30, 2018

Innovation is all the rage. Everybody’s doing it. You better do it too . . . if you want to be cool! Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge fan of innovation. Who isn’t? Wait; don’t answer that. I think I already know the answer. If your job no longer exists due to innovation, you may not be a big fan. Got it.

I recently tweeted the sagacious (look it up!) words of an EHR vendor executive to me when we were discussing innovation. He said, “You want to innovate? Try executing. That would be pretty innovative.”

I see where he’s coming from. Sometimes, the most innovative thing to do is simply to follow tried-and-true rules that others have formulated to get to a successful outcome. I think a lot of people and organizations often forget to just execute on the basics. Point taken.

Innovation for the Budget Conscious

It’s a lot of fun to innovate by spending money on software and gadgets. Just ask any Chief Innovation Officer. If your organization has a group of people who focus on innovating and thinking outside of the box, you’re lucky. Clearly, your leadership sees the value in spending time, money, and resources on cutting-edge ideas. If that’s the case, I applaud them and you. It’s not easy for many CEOs and CFOs to fund innovative causes because they must embrace risk. It’s one thing to say you’d be ok with wasting a bunch of hard-earned dollars, but a completely different thing to do it, and then justify it to your board.

While forming an office for innovation and employing folks like Chief Innovation Officers are good things to do, if you’re not in a place to do them, fear not. There are plenty of innovative things your healthcare organization might be able to do in lieu of creating formal infrastructure or giving a startup access to your people or data (not that there’s anything wrong with that!).

Some innovations for your electronic health record (EHR) might include:

  • Release your patients’ lab and imaging results via your patient portal as soon as they are finalized, even if the ordering doctor hasn’t seen them yet. Will you run into potential problems from time to time? Yes! Definitely! Guaranteed! But that doesn’t mean the risk isn’t worth the reward. Many patients are of the opinion that their data belongs to them. Hello, e-Patient Dave!
  • Release your patients’ progress notes via your patient portal. The Open Notes movement is not only a good idea for bunch of reasons, but there are data to support the concept of sharing notes quickly and easily with patients.
  • Incorporate pictures of your patients into their EHR charts. Mistakes in ordering or documenting on the wrong chart are sometimes corrected when the physician is presented with a picture of the patient.
  • Incorporate pictures of your staff into software that your patients see. It’s one thing to see the names of your care team on a patient’s mobile app, but it’s another thing to see the friendly face behind the name.

Have you done innovative things that don’t involve three start-ups and $100M? Leave a comment!

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