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At iHT2, Provider Leaders Acknowledge Innovation Must Come from Within

June 17, 2015
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The name of the closing panel at the Institute for Health Technology Transformation’s (iHT2) Health IT Summit in Washington D.C. had a bit of a dark tone to it. 
(iHT2 and HCI are partners under the corporate umbrella of the Vendome Group)
The title of the panel was, “Where Has Innovation Gone and How Can We Get It Back.” Just hearing this makes me think of some depressing song from a soft rock musician, with innovation taking the place of a lost love. 
Yet despite that somewhat depressing title, the panel was an uplifting way to finish an enjoyable two-and-a-half days of discussion (including the CHIME LEAD15 session on Monday as well). It encapsulated one of the major recurring themes from the week: If providers want innovative technology in their organization to reduce cost,  improve care and increase access, the ideas must come from within.
Ryan Bosch, M.D., VP and CMIO at Inova Health System in Northern Virginia said it best: “You have to think of what you can do as an institution. I look in the mirror first. When I’m asked to do something or my team is asked to do something, I try to think of what we can do. In the last five years, more than ever, it’s hard to say we can’t do something in health IT. The realm of possibility is much greater.”
Indeed, Bosch later said, the days of blaming the vendor for a lack of innovation are over. The other closing panelist, John Santangelo, Senior Director of Technology at Cleveland Clinic Florida, echoed that sentiment. He noted that innovation is driven by culture, and when it comes to innovation, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” In other words, you need leaders in your organization that are willing to invest in ideas and people that are willing to come up with ideas that allow for value-based care.
The previous day, I heard about efforts in telehealth from various organization that are exemplifying this concept. For example, John Kornak, director of telehealth at the University of Maryland Medical Center, talked about how doctor-led concepts are driving adoption of telehealth at his organization. Doctors from various specialties will come up to him with ideas on how to use telehealth within their departments, and Kornak will figure out if it makes sense from a technical and operational standpoint.
Think about that. In many areas of the country, doctors are fighting tooth and nail to cease telehealth efforts or significantly hamper their existence. At University of Maryland Medical Center, doctors are the ones determining how to use telehealth most effectively. 
The conference also included a keynote presented from Geeta Nyyar, M.D., a rheumatologist and Chief Healthcare and Innovation Officer at Femwell Group Health, a management services organization in Southern Florida. Dr. Nyyar is involved with Femwell’s subsidiary, TopLine MD Health Alliance. 
TopLine is rethinking the term of patient engagement. It has launched a digital news channel that aims to answer typical patient questions and concerns through conversations with doctors. In particular, she is reaching out to engage a critical demographic group in terms of healthcare decision making, women aged 25-45. Using social media, Dr. Nyyar told the audience, is a way to extend the most important aspect of patient engagement…eye contact between provider and patient. 
The telehealth and social media initiatives come from cultures that are willing to take its cues from providers and patients. In both cases, they are concepts that are provider-driven and patient-centered. Who knows better than the docs what the patients want? 
As Santangelo said during the closing panel, the era of value-based care means that no longer should providers blindly invest hundreds of thousands in the latest medical technology, just because it’s new. “It is no longer driven by vendors. It has to be provider and patient driven,” he said.                         
For this reason, the conference, the panel and the concept, was not a depressing love song. It was encouraging to hear about these initiatives and what the leading providers are doing. With Inova, Cleveland Clinic, University of Maryland Medical Center, and many other provider organizations charging ahead, it's clear the future of innovation is in good hands. And if, as the panel title suggested, it is gone, we’ll get it back soon enough. 


Yes, Gabriel. Innovation has to come from within and definitely from the clinician side. I thought the conference was great and extremely informative. I think the big takeaway for me was that there just as many solutions during the summit as there were demonstrated problems. During the discussion session, our table actually presented a solution to one one of the problems a colleague was facing.