Collaborative Innovation: A Decade in Perspective

At the Healthcare Roundtable last month, I had the pleasure of speaking about work that I facilitated at a West-coast community hospital. The need for the work arose from the hospital’s needing to build a new facility to remain in seismic compliance with CA Senate Bill 1953. Marked uncertainty arose about what services to offer when physicians took business offsite with an Ambulatory Surgical Center, GI service, and Pain Management Unit.

Admitting uncertainty, the hospital invested in a Medical Advisory Panel that, remains in existence today, to use collaborative innovation to assist with strategic planning for an uncertain future. The returns included:

  • Savings of millions of dollars on orthopedic implants due to consolidation of vendors
  • Over 250 patients estimated to be alive despite sepsis due to an innovative slay-sepsis campaign involving the ED, ICU, laboratory, and respiratory therapy
  • An OR that won a national award for improvements in patient flow
  • A group of medical staff leaders who got their start as panelists or presenters to the Medical Advisory Panel
  • Physicians who helped with fund-raising for the new hospital through their contributions and by convincing their patients to contribute
  • Recently, a cut of approximately $3 milllion in physician preference items
  • Co-management agreements with orthopedists and cardiologists

Bottom-Up Collaborative Innovation

A physician champion, who had prided himself on two decades of not serving on a hospital committee and who said for the process to work, the hospital needed to undergo a cultural enema, became sufficiently enamored with the data-driven interactions with his physician colleagues to write:

“We evolved from a self-interested view of what the hospital should do for us as physicians to a more empowered view of how the hospital could employ limited resources to improve care for the community. Through the process of discovery, we began to think and act more as long-term partners and co-owners than short-term customers and renters.” (Cohn et al. “The Challenges and Opportunities of Collaborating with Creatively Abrasive Physicians,” in Cohn KH. 2006. Collaborate for Success! Chicago: Health Administration Press, 14.)

In this era of disruptive innovation, engaged physicians are an essential element of strategic planning and cultural change.

As always, I welcome your input to improve healthcare collaboration where you work.  Please send me your comments and suggestions for improvement.

Kenneth H. Cohn
© 2014, all rights reserved
I have not received any compensation for writing this content.  I have no material connection to the brands, topics and/or products that are mentioned herein.

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