Experimenting in healthcare

Time and again it appears that it is difficult to realize innovations and changes in healthcare. Even though an innovation can contribute enormously to improving patient experience, outcome and efficiency, that does not mean that it has just been realized.

A survey among professionals in the healthcare sector supports this *. Many change initiatives fail in the care sector, while it is clear to just about everyone working in the care sector that it is becoming increasingly necessary for care organizations to change. We too see this paradox reflected among the customers for whom we work.

There are several reasons why we are unable to realize innovations quickly or at all in healthcare:

  • The concern is maximum multidisciplinary and maximum multi-stakeholder: many people, departments and disciplines are involved, each with its own perspective and views.
  • The coherence is very complex: changes or innovations in healthcare can hardly be viewed in isolation. Processes are so closely intertwined that a turn of 1 button triggers a lot of other wheels.
  • In addition, it should always be taken into account primary process: innovations or changes must not be at the expense of the quality of your core task or the care you provide. This makes it very difficult to get enough people and resources available for innovations.

Innovation sweet spot

We think that with every idea to change or innovate you have to go back to the beginning. Such an idea often arises from a need (demand-driven) or from a new technology or possibility (supply-driven). To determine whether this idea can be successful, it is important to look for the 'innovation sweet spot". This is at the intersection of 3 aspects:

  1. Desirability: is the innovation or change desirable in the eyes of the customer or patient? And in the eyes of the people who have to work with it, such as care providers, managers and support staff?
  2. Feasibility: can we actually realize this change or innovation? Do we have the (financial) resources and people for that? Does this not have a negative impact on other processes?
  3. Viability: Will the innovation or change really bring us something? Will it deliver a saving? Less outflow of employees? Or an improved patient experience?

Assumption is the mother of all mistakes

All kinds of assumptions often underlie an idea. In terms of desirability, but also in terms of feasibility and viability. If you are at the start of an innovation, it is therefore good to consider the following: assumption is the mother of all mistakes.

The first step in an innovation or change should therefore always be: testing the underlying assumptions. By means of surveys or more qualitative interviews or focus groups, with which you can find out more deeply motivated people. Why do they want or don't want something?

Validate based on behavior

Another way to validate is to experiment. This takes you one step further than just asking if someone finds something interesting. You get real insight into whether patients are actually going to use an innovation. Whether employees really want to go along with a change. By experimenting you learn more about the behavior that can actually be expected. And with that you can better assess whether something is going to be successful.

How does experimenting work? Broadly, you approach it as follows:

  1. First determine the most critical assumption: which is essential and fundamental to your solution?
  2. Consider how you validate this with a (small) experiment
  3. Determine when the experiment is a success: when did you learn what you want to learn? And what behavior would you like to see arise?
  4. Be curious and be surprised! Gain as many insights as possible with the experiment
  5. If desired, adjust the innovation and start again

Innovate with impact

At Branddoctors we believe that experiment at the basis of successful innovations. By experimenting you can search in small steps what the added value and barriers can be of a change or innovation. In this way you not only create innovations that have a positive impact, but also innovations in which people recognize themselves and for which they are not opposed in advance. So that it all becomes a lot less exciting. In healthcare in particular, experimenting could therefore be a great accelerator for achieving innovation and change. So you can really have an impact on improving healthcare.

Are you curious about how experimentation can help your healthcare organization to get change or renewal going? Then contact Winnie Nijhoff: winnie@branddoctors.com.

Winnie Nijhoff* https://www.consultancy.nl/nieuws/26565/meer-aandacht-nodig-voor-projectmanagement-in-de-zorg

Published on
January 14 2020

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Author
Lisette van Elst