Thursday, June 9, 2016

Inside CoxHealth's first Innovation Accelerator

CoxHealth held our first Innovation Accelerator in March -- here's a behind-the-scenes look at the process from CoxHealth Connection magazine:

The innovative ideas flow quickly from the stage: kiosk check-in for clinic visits, an interactive health care app, a 24-hour urgent care, a mobile clinic for rural areas. One by one, CoxHealth staff members take the stage and give their best pitch for a new way to serve patients, solve problems, expand care and change the way we do business.

Participants have one minute each to convince an audience that their idea is a winner. The best proposals are chosen by popular vote and participants then break into teams to develop the best seven concepts. Those top ideas will be presented to a panel of CoxHealth executives and leaders in a fashion similar to the entrepreneurial reality TV show “Shark Tank.”

It’s all part of the inaugural edition of the CoxHealth Innovation Accelerator, an intensive 25-hour event hosted by The eFactory. The goal is simple: gather 50 engaged employees to brainstorm creative approaches and identify new projects that can transform health care in our region.

“This is about innovation from the inside,” says Scott Rogers, system director, performance integration and innovation. “This event will help us drive our culture toward even more openness to new ideas and pursuing change.”

Accelerator participants spent Feb. 29 and March 1 at The eFactory, with teams spread throughout the space, developing ideas with help from coaches and local business leaders. It was a chance to think creatively and collaborate across departments.

“It was an intense experience and it was really fun getting to work with so many people from different areas of the system to create a final pitch,” says Tyson Reed, department supervisor, Heart Center. “By the end, everyone felt a great sense of accomplishment because of how much we achieved in a short amount of time.”

That feeling is a common response. Participants were excited to think about what we could do and how we can produce big-picture improvements. 

“CQI (continuous quality improvement) and other processes give people the ability to impact their daily work, but this effects larger scale changes,” Rogers says. “In a very successful organization, you have to do both. A lot of organizations struggle with getting front-line employees’ voices heard to make large changes. This is a way to do that.”

At The eFactory, the two days of building on the best ideas eventually yielded three winning concepts. They are still under discussion and many of the details remain under wraps, but the winning projects were:

1st place: Expanded Convenient Care Pharmacy services

2nd place: New ideas for expanding laboratory services

3rd place: New approaches for chronic care management

These three projects will undergo serious consideration and a full business review in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, leaders will be examining all of the ideas pitched at the opening session. Any of those ideas that are deemed to be feasible and in line with CoxHealth’s strategic goals could also be added to the list of future projects.

As the proposals come to fruition and employees begin seeing the tangible results, Rogers says he expects more interest in the Innovation Accelerator process. It’s a positive feedback loop: an innovative culture drives successful projects and those successes inspire more new ideas.

“Employees want to feel like they are making an impact,” Rogers says. “This process does that. I’ve already heard from this year’s winners and they want to come back and serve as a resource in the future.”

Leaders are hoping to make the Innovation Accelerator an annual event – and this year’s participants are more than enthused about the possibility.

“To all my colleagues, please participate in the next one if you can,” Kari DiCianni, system director of performance improvement, wrote in a comment on the CoxHealth intranet. “We were all winners! I hope everyone can experience this at least once in their career.”