This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
“We need to innovate.”
If you’ve worked in healthcare, you’ve doubtlessly heard this phrase before. Whether tackling resource challenges or considering solutions to staff shortages, leaders across the industry are laser-focused on how to innovate.
But what goes into the process of innovation? And how can healthcare innovate to move the needle in addressing long-standing issues?
In this episode of the Memora Health Care Delivery Podcast, our guest Aman Shah, VP of New Ventures & Strategic Partnerships at VNS Health, discusses how his organization supports patients and members with finding and accessing care, the role of technology in putting patients first, the importance of having an innovation framework, and how the entire healthcare ecosystem can benefit from a tech-forward approach.
Healthcare needs to move upstream to truly put patients first
Today’s healthcare system is notoriously reactive. You visit a doctor when you’re not feeling well, they might prescribe you medication or give you some care advice, and send you on your way. After leaving the clinic, you barely interact with your provider.
From a certain standpoint, the industry has made some progress in this area. Shah says, “We’re starting to have conversations about value-based care. We’re starting to have conversations about putting patients at the center of everything we do.”
But, Shah suggests that to truly understand the experience of patients and put them first, healthcare will need to create innovations that get ahead of care episodes and support stakeholders across the care continuum — inside and outside of the hospital setting.
Shah adds, “The problem that I always see is how do you get a baseline when it comes to value-based care? What happens across the healthcare ecosystem is we start taking care of the patient when they get sick … How do you [get to that] care earlier and really care about the patient? That problem is not a problem we’re talking about at the level I’d like to see yet.”
Intelligent care enablement technologies that empower both patients and their providers before, after, and between doctor visits offer the potential to help connect gaps in care, provide patient insights beyond the bedside, and scale patient-centered care across service lines.
You need a structured plan for healthcare innovation
Understanding the need to innovate is a step in the right direction. But it’s only the beginning of what can be a complicated and uncharted path.
That’s why healthcare organizations need a structured plan for developing and implementing novel solutions to the challenges of our age. And that starts with understanding the problems themselves. Shah explains, “... Create a framework for how you want to innovate. It should always focus on the problem you’re looking to solve, not the solution you’re looking to launch.”
Next is ensuring your team is set up to succeed in collaborating cross-functionally. That means promoting communication across departments and ensuring your staff members aren’t working in vacuums. Shah recommends leaders “create empowered, cross-functional teams. If you have a bigger system, your team is probably siloed … How do you actually create cross-functional teams to talk to one another to innovate?”
After that, it’s all about encouraging innovation throughout each level of the organization — not just with a top-down approach. Shah says, “Then, you need to align incentives … Just because you tell your team to innovate, doesn’t mean they’re going to innovate. How are you going to align incentives at the leadership level to enable them to be innovative?”
The entire healthcare industry needs to innovate to provide better patient and member experience
The truth is that the challenges healthcare faces don’t live in just one area of the industry. When clinical staff face issues in the workplace, patient experience is affected. And when some communities lack access to important care services, we all lose out on a healthier society.
That’s why Shah proposes the entire healthcare ecosystem needs technological innovation to enhance care for all. And a solid starting place is the simple process of finding a doctor. Specifically, health plans could play a key role in closing the loop.
Shah notes, “What is so difficult today and things that pain me as a consumer within healthcare are things like finding a physician … How do I find the best doctor? I don’t know. I work in healthcare 60+ hours a week. And if I want to find a physician, I actually call up people at work or friends and ask, ‘Who’s your PCP?’ It’s not as simple as going to Google … How can payors actually enable you to find a physician better?“
Another outstanding area where innovation can help solve healthcare’s existential challenges is with clinical workflows. Specifically, digital healthcare platforms equipped with AI could change the game when it comes to streamlining burdensome documentation requirements for doctors.
Shah remarks, “We’re estimated to have a gap of 800 million clinical workers by 2030 … Technology is truly going to help in this space … With AI, there’s a lot of good work happening in the clinical documentation space, which will help enable us to do our jobs by the bedside a lot faster and reduce pajama time.”
In one maternity program, over 70% of spontaneous patient messages were accurately addressed by Memora Health’s conversational AI. Read the full case study.
Innovative AI-supported platforms like Memora Health proactively engage patients and answer most routine care-related questions, freeing up clinicians to work at the top of their license while streamlining their workflows.