Last week, Beckers’ Hospital Review posted a collection of quotes from 9 healthcare leaders about the role of innovation in healthcare. What’s striking about the list of quotes is how widely these leaders recognize the importance of delivering care at a distance now and in the future.

For the past 25 years, telehealth converts had been peddling the merits of telehealth. And all the hard work and preparation paid off when the Covid-19 health crisis required a rapid response to ensure continued, safe access to care, telehealth was ready. The technologies were ready (connectivity, high quality video compression, high-definition webcams), the payment structures were in place, and many people had heard a thing or two about the best practices for getting telehealth right.

While periodically in my weekly articles you hear me weave in my predictions on the innovations in healthcare, in this week’s article, I’d like to share with you the thoughts and visions of seven other healthcare leaders.

Innovation to Strengthen Engagement

Telehealth, when leveraged correctly, is about so much more than delivering care. It’s also about shaping the patient care experience, giving care teams and patients a new set of tools to really move the needle when it comes to engaging patients and caregivers in the care.

Kristin Myers, Executive Vice President and CIO at Mount Sinai Health System, focuses in on using telehealth not as an end to itself, but as a enabler of higher goals:

“Delivering the patient experience so that patients and families strengthen their relationship with the health system is our best opportunity. Technology can be an enabler when there is a holistic experience. From scheduling all the way through to discharge and remote monitoring at home will be an important part of our strategy. The key to all of this is providing a seamless patient experience; one that is easy, clear and from the tech perspective, not fragmented. “

Adding to this sentiment is also Lisa Stump, Senior Vice President and CIO of Yale New Haven Health, expanding the desired goals to efficiency and safety:

“[W]e will need to bring technology and digital tools that enable efficiency, patient engagement and safety, and we will need to do so quickly, creatively and cost-effectively to support the recovery and build upon the digital advances we’ve seen in our response.”

Both Ms. Stump and Ms. Myers also recognize the challenge ahead, but that the investment of time, energy and resources is needed to satisfy the expectations of the Modern Healthcare Consumer and making it work with the limited resources available.

Ms. Stump: “This means reprioritizing and focusing on what is critical, leveraging the depth and breadth across all segments of the IT team in flexible and agile teams.”

Ms. Myers: “Pulling all that together is a challenge, but patients will become more empowered in the future and they will expect the kind of consumer experience that they get in retail and other sectors.”

The Future of Virtual Care through the Eyes of Mayo Clinic

My foray into telehealth started in 2003 with the creation of a 425-page compendium of requirements for a continuous cardiac rhythm monitoring band aid at my career alma mater, the Mayo Clinic. I left in 2012 to launch Ingenium and work with leaders who wanted to move at a faster pace than Mayo could at the time. It’s thus refreshing to hear the perspectives of these two Mayo Clinic leaders that are now leading different aspects of innovation at one of the finest institutions in healthcare.

What strikes me about both quotes is the curiosity and willingness to look way beyond the obvious opportunities that the need and demand for virtual care has brought, which is what it will take for leaders to stay in the lead.

Says Cris Ross, CIO of Mayo Clinic:

“As the pandemic lingers, people’s expectations will rise, and we quickly need the next generation of virtual collaboration tools. Virtual care has been a success, and we’ve learned a lot, but patients and clinicians want next-generation tools for virtual care.”

Likewise, John Halamka, MD, President of Mayo Clinic Platform is not only recognizing the implicit expectations, but also very bullish on the pace at which this can be made available:

“We’re going to have more demand for telemedicine, telehealth, hospital-level care in the home, wearables and the ability to apply machine learning and artificial intelligence to new data sources for cure plans. That’s going to be here very soon because we have changed so much, so fast with COVID-19.”

Beyond Telehealth for Physical Distancing

One of the themes that emerged in the set of quotes is how leaders are seeing the use of telehealth technology far beyond today’s use cases that keep patients, staff and providers safe from Covid-19 by enabling physical distancing.

So is Deanna Wise, Senior Vice President and CIO of Banner Health seeing opportunities for synergy when combining telehealth with other non-traditional care delivery models:

“Supplementing telehealth with skilled home health nursing, and expanding services to include care for mental health and continuous bedside monitoring, is going to transform this care delivery model.”

Accelerating Innovation Adoption

Healthcare Innovation

Let me leave you with two quotes that address the critical mindset that today’s current and aspiring leaders in healthcare need to adopt to accelerate innovation adoption.

It’s not about the innovation, it’s making it simple and easy to use…

Oftentimes, innovation and technology are used synonymously. But it’s not really about the tool, it’s about how it is being used. And the most value organizations can derive from innovations is to make sure that the solutions are easy to use.

As Daniel Barchi, Group Senior Vice President and CIO of NewYork-Presbyterian, put it:

“[T]he best tech is the simplest tech […] that can be readily used by nurses and doctors in their practices”.

For virtual care , this means simple, easy to use solutions that fit the existing in-person paradigm of care delivery. Like the Telemedicine Happy Day Scenario of a single click to enter your virtual exam room and another click to invite the patient from the waiting room.

…and it’s about the people

In many of my presentations I talk about how telehealth is only 10% about the technology, 40% about the workflow and 50% about supporting people to embrace the change. Peter Fleischut, MD, Chief Transformation Officer at NewYork-Presbyterian’s Hauser Institute for Health Innovation puts it best:

“We don’t want to implement technology for technology’s sake. At the end of the day, it’s really about the people, process and technology, with people making up 80 percent of it, the process taking 15 percent and tech making up the remainder.”

This is truly what we need to keep in mind, when we are pursuing the use of technology to enable the delivery of extraordinary care.

I partner with innovative healthcare organizations to paint a realistic vision of their digital health future, lay out a pragmatic roadmap to get the organization there and manage the quick wins that will get the needed buy in from the people. Do you know how to accelerate innovation adoption?

To discuss, set up a complimentary call.

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Christian Milaster optimizes Telehealth Services for health systems and physician practices as Interim Telehealth Program Director. Christian is the Founder and President of Ingenium Digital Health Advisors where he and his expert consortium partner with healthcare leaders to enable the delivery of extraordinary care.

Contact Christian by phone or text at 657-464-3648, via email, or video chat.

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