Creating a Culture of Innovation in a Highly Regulated Market
“Every other session at AHIP is about what to do…not what to do but how to think about what to do”
-Mohan Nair, Chief Innovation Officer, Cambia Health Solutions
In a heavily regulated market, it is becoming increasingly important for health plans to rely on innovative ideas. In order to do so, health insurers must create an organizational culture that places emphasis on flexibility and new ideas. In this session, presenters discuss some of the ways their organizations continue to break the mold in order to stay ahead of the curve.
Moderated by Nair, this session featured three speakers: Kevin Riley, CEO and President of GuideWell, CIO of Florida Blue; Peter Coughlan, Partner, IDEO, LLC; and Patrick Jordan, Content Specialist, Disney Institute.
After a short introduction to this interactive session, Nair addressed the one question that was likely on everyone’s mind off the bat: what could a Content Specialist from Disney possibly bring to the table in terms of healthcare innovation. Jordan then spoke for a few minutes about his background and had some interesting things to say. He began by discussing the overarching theme of this session: promoting a culture that embraces and encourages innovation. Jordan mentioned a couple things that he had learned in his time at Disney that he thought were applicable to healthcare innovation. For instance, by having a laser focus on their guests, Disney is about to not only meet but exceed their expectations. He attributed much of the success to an atmosphere in which employees felt confident in bringing new ideas to fruition. “The notion of transferring power and decision making authority is terrifying and challenging, but that is what leads to a shift in culture and, therefore, innovation,” said Jordan.
Up next was Riley, who began by saying that “Designed thinking gets me out of bed in the morning.” He mentioned that, in addition to creating an atmosphere in which employees could innovate, it is also important to have a structure in place to move those ideas forward. Additionally, Riley mentioned that, in order for innovation to take place, it is necessary to seeks answers through new approaches and means. Nair added to this by saying that the customer should never be the source of input, because standard questions will lead to standard answers. This line of thinking goes back to Jordan’s emphasis on anticipating what a customer or consumer wants and then exceeding those expectations.
When it came time for Coughlan to speak, he echoed many of the same feelings that Jordan had about creating an innovative culture, but took it a step further by stressing the importance on collaboration between multiple constituents of a similar field. An example of this would be to bring together a nurse, doctor, acupuncturist, local yoga teacher, and an insurance provider to come up some new ideas. “After a few hours we’d have a new integrated service with each person having a role in that ecosystem,” said Coughlan. In other words, perspective can be a powerful thing, and the more perspectives and inputs that can be acquired, the more well rounded and innovative the ideas and approaches can become.
Although some of the advice that was given in this session seems obvious, the fact is that many companies do not promote an innovative environment, and therefore miss out on major collaborative opportunities between relevant constituents. As the medical world continues to evolve and added regulations make it more difficult to deliver care and services in traditional ways, the role of innovation is becoming more important by the day. As Jordan put it, “Satisfaction is not that goal – if we aim for that that’s exactly what we’ll get.” 

To learn more about this session, please visit the AHIP Institute 2012 website.
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