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Five Questions: Assess Your Readiness to Embrace Healthcare Engagement Innovation


New ideas in healthcare consumer engagement can offer health plans and health systems exciting ways to improve quality of care, increase member and patient satisfaction, and help control costs. From closing gaps in care and gathering health risk assessment (HRA) information to implementing remote patient monitoring and improving Stars ratings, no one will argue that finding better ways to engage consumers is one of the keys to a more sustainable healthcare system.

But is your organization ready to move beyond the tried-and-true strategies and tactics and truly innovate when it comes to engagement?

A Forbes article about companies’ readiness for innovation points out that leaders need to first put in place the right internal structures, processes and environment. In our work with 250+ of the nation’s premier health plans and health systems, we’ve learned this is indeed critical, especially when it comes to the kind of rapid testing and optimization that we help our clients implement—optimization that leads to innovation.

If you think it’s time to go from status quo to status go, we recommend working through the below checklist before you kick off your efforts, including insights from Carenet Health team members who work closely with healthcare organizations of all sizes to improve consumer engagement.

Reviewing the elements of organizational readiness 

#1   Do you have an engagement innovation business case? It’s important to create a blueprint that makes it easy for senior leadership to understand and communicate the long-term vision for engagement and how it integrates into and supports the objectives of the health plan. Detailed budget requirements and expected outcomes for engagement innovation are also essential.

“Readiness for innovation really begins with building the business case for change, allocating a budget and having corporate senior leadership support.” — David Dreggors, Senior Vice President, Business Development 

 #2   Do you have defined success metrics and credible data? In conjunction with the business case, leaders should develop clearly defined metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure progress on the path to innovation. That includes ensuring that the data you tap into for measurement and insight is clean, error-free and from trusted sources, so results are valid and believable.

“A true willingness to change and try new things is needed. In doing so, I encourage leaders to think measurement of success versus effort.” — Mick Mazour, President 

#3   Have you established buy-in across teams? Nothing kills great ideas and organizational creativity faster than objections from team leaders who were left out of the decision-making process. Moving forward effectively with engagement innovation strategies requires proactive buy-in across the organization. Plus, the buy-in process can uncover important concerns or issues that need to be addressed before jumping into engagement initiatives. Ask what roadblocks leaders can foresee. For instance, are unidentified infrastructure upgrades or additional engagement resources required? Can we handle testing internally or do we need a healthcare consumer engagement partner?

“Alignment across organizational leaders is critical. Decision makers need to agree on the same goal and then be supportive of it. For example, so many of our health plan clients want to text members and ‘go mobile,’ but legal/compliance often stands in their way.” — Vikie Spulak, Chief Client Officer 

#4   Are there one or more change champions? You’ll need at least one executive team member who can be the internal champion for innovation initiatives and explain the value of change and innovation. Ensure that champions provide consistent, periodic updates as ideas are tested and implemented. Another important point: Innovation in healthcare engagement is different than many other areas of innovation. Your champions and your teams must be committed to the fundamental reason for new ideas—the health plan member, the patient … the healthcare consumer.

“In my experience, organizations need to be able to foresee the actual financial impact of changing how engagement is approached. Leaders must be able to speak to that impact within the organization. And they absolutely need to have a foundational desire to challenge the status quo. Perhaps most importantly, they must want to build and maintain a culture around truly engaging with healthcare consumers.” — John Erwin, CEO 

 #5   Are you prepared to fail? Of course, not every new engagement idea will deliver on its promise. The organization must be ready to manage through that and learn from the failure. Leadership needs a plan for when there are small or large setbacks—how to accept them and communicate them. With a solid business case and defined success metrics, those change management tasks should be easier. You’ll also have the data you need to justify decisions, especially if an exit plan from a pilot program is needed.

“For any innovation to happen, an organization must have executive team sponsorship with a belief in trial and error. Not all investments in technology, alternative channels and strategies hit a home run. Organizations must be ready and prepared to fail, but also ready to evolve the solutions to hit the bull’s eye in improved clinical and financial outcomes. Organizations also need to keep the consumer first in mind—what motivates, resonates and drives behavioral change.”        — Ken Klade, Senior Vice President, Hospitals and Health Systems


How can we help? Please reach out if you’d like to discuss ways to improve your patient engagement efforts. If you’d like more information on innovation in healthcare engagement, you may want to read our white paper, Fueling Innovation in Healthcare Engagement: Harnessing the Not-so-Secret Power of Optimization.