How Kaiser Permanente encourages healthcare innovation

Innovation is more than a buzzword in an industry as volatile as healthcare. Kaiser Permanente, one of the country's largest health systems, is using "pull strategies" to attract people to new ideas, according to Benjamin K. Chu, M.D., executive vice president of Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Health Plan, based in Oakland, California.

"If you want to break out of the mold, you have to think completely differently," said Chu, a keynote speaker at the National Healthcare Innovation Summit held in Chicago this week, as reported by Becker's Health IT & CIO Review.

Kaiser Permanente, whch serves more than 10 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia, employs pull strategies that work to draw people in, versus push strategies, which are characterized by a person having a great idea and pushing others to adopt it, said Chu, who also serves as group president of Kaiser Permanente's southern California and Georgia regions and president of Kaiser Permanente Southern California.

Kaiser's key objective is bringing the "Triple Aim"--healthier populations, affordable care and better patient experiences--to its patient population and creating an environment where its members actively participate.

To do that, the provider arms physicians with meaningful, real-time and actionable quality improvement data, Chu said. Transparency of performance, especially for physicians, drives them to do a better job and Kaiser Permanente has launched the Permanente Online Interactive Network Tool (POINT) system to give providers access to performance data for physicians, departments and each medical center.

Kaiser Permanente also aims to decentralize the healthcare campus, spreading out facilities to make them more connected and accessible to the communities they serve. The health system is building several of what it calls Health Hubs--new medical office buildings of the future designed with input from patients, administrators, physicians and nurses--with plans to build between 20 and 25 more over the next five years, according to Chu.

Taking another approach to innovation, Loren Hamel, M.D., the CEO of Lakeland Health, a healthcare system that includes several hospitals, medical practices and clinics in southwest Michigan, called on staff to treat patients with "heart" to reinvent their healthcare experience. The "Bring Your Heart to Work" campaign took patient satisfaction scores, which were between the 25th and 50th percentile, to the 95th percentile within 90 days, according to Harvard Business Review.

With healthcare organizations feeling the pressure to improve outcomes and cut costs, there's no shortage of innovative ideas in the industry. Some organizations borrow the "Shark Tank" model to get people to pitch their ideas and others drive innovation via competition and prizes. 

To learn more:
- read the Becker's report
- here's the Harvard Business Review article

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