Healthcare Innovated: Unlock opportunity for sustainable change

Whilst Australia scores highly in the World Index of Healthcare Innovation for quality and choice, it lags considerably in science, technology and fiscal sustainability (https://freopp.org/). With an aging and increasingly chronically ill population, for Australia to stay ahead in the quality and choice which we have come to expect, more is needed in viable digital innovation.

In a recent survey of Australian Healthcare Executives (Grangeford. 2022), when asked about the importance of being innovative to drive growth: the majority answered 9 or more out of 10. When asked about driving outcomes and how the digital or customer experience paradigm is contributing, the average response was much lower at 6.5 out of 10. The spread of responses was also interesting with some executives believing the importance of digital at a 10 with others at a 4, highlighting that not all executives are as excited by the digital paradigm as others.

Respondents were asked about the biggest challenges faced by an executive in healthcare and unsurprisingly first came employee overload and workforce issues. Achieving profitability targets and increasing complexity came in next with progressing innovation close behind. Key issues faced in progressing growth were reported as:

  • Workforce capability and capacity
  • Not being agile enough in culture and systems
  • Lacking investment in innovation
  • Prioritisation and competing demands
  • Increasing complexity and working across the eco-system

Innovation is hard, uncertain and full of ambiguity. Some of the key obstacles to progressing innovation include:

  • Trying to progress innovation in the same way as BAU
  • Establishing a team of internal SMEs as a project too early
  • Bringing in a team of consultants or outsourcing it completely
  • Allowing 3rd party providers or vendors to drive the agenda
  • Assuming everyone thinks logically or gets excited about progressing new opportunities and ignoring the cultural and adaptive impact

There are a lot of issues to contemplate, but where is the innovation silver bullet? The bad news is that there isn’t one, but the good news is that there are several key principles, which if achieved, will provide the pathway to repeatable innovative growth. They are:

1.    Strategy alignment: From the Board and Executive down, strategic alignment is critical to focus innovation efforts, it requires openness to doing things differently including managing risk and commercial metrics. This provides the guardrails to enable people across the organisation to follow the proverbial north star and minimise the chance of wasted efforts.

2.    Systemised innovation process: Systemised innovation is not the oxymoron that many think. Having the right systems and processes in place to discover, design, drive and decide will accelerate decision-making and enable repeatable opportunities, after all, people should fall in love with the opportunity, not the idea.

3.    Shared commitment: Like the billy goat who sees some fresh grass on the other side of the bridge and gets halfway across, before it gets too hard and goes back to the certainty of brown grass. The internal issues of competition for resources, control for power and inability to collaborate can derail an organisation quickly. Having some techniques in place to enable shared commitment across the organisation will improve the chances of innovative success.

Focusing on achieving these key principles will enable:

The right growth opportunities unlocked faster: Accelerate the generation and assessment of new concepts and discount the wrong ones quickly

Innovation muscle developed from inside out: Build internal capability for the sustainable and repeatable process to progress innovation despite BAU pressures

Credibility internally and externally: Create adaptive methods to partner and collaborate across the healthcare ecosystem

If you would like to learn more about how to unlock opportunities for sustainable change and move the needle for Australia in healthcare innovation in a financially viable way – please contact me Jodie.granger@grangeford.com.au