ChristianaCare: Embracing a Culture of Agility and Innovation

Kevin Kain, director of financial planning and operational analysis, and Kristen Raber, corporate director, Cloud Innovation Lab at ChristianaCare, share how the healthcare provider has rapidly adapted to change while continuing to drive digital transformation within the organization and provide affordable, high quality care for the communities it serves.

Ellen Murphy October 16, 2020
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ChristianaCare is a leading healthcare provider serving the mid-Atlantic states and is a valued member of the Workday customer community. With a commitment to providing affordable, high quality care for the communities it serves, ChristianaCare is embracing innovation across its organization. 

We connected with Kristen Raber, corporate director, Cloud Innovation Lab at ChristianaCare, and Kevin Kain, director of financial planning and operational analysis at ChristianaCare, to learn more about how they’re driving positive transformation. 

Below are highlights of the discussion where Raber and Kain talk about the solutions they’re adopting as healthcare continues to change.

How does ChristianaCare approach innovation?

Kristen Raber: At ChristianaCare, our healthcare strategy, including our approach to innovation, is grounded in our values and behaviors: “We serve together, guided by our values of love and excellence.” We believe that when love guides our work, excellence is inevitable—we achieve better clinical outcomes and an affordable system of care. Our innovation initiatives follow this strategy, starting with buy-in from leadership, but everyone in the organization has a responsibility, too—our caregivers are a key part of our innovation efforts. We make innovation a core competency by optimizing our existing systems and processes in unconventional ways, and leveraging emerging tools and technology. 

Does culture enable innovation? 

Kevin Kain: Yes, and it starts with our incredible executive leadership team. Having strong executive leadership has enabled our teams to innovate throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m proud and grateful to my exceptionally talented team. Together, we accepted the challenge of working remotely to improve our modeling capabilities and sophistication in Workday Adaptive Planning. With our strong culture throughout our organization, I’m confident we are ready to handle any change that comes forward at a week’s notice, a day’s notice, or a moment’s notice. 

Raber: Yes, creating a culture that supports innovation is essential. Culturally, we’ve changed as an organization by shifting from being a healthcare system to a system that impacts health. With this shift, we’ve changed how people work by creating an environment that is psychologically safe and supportive of employees who bring forward new ideas and solutions. We encourage employees—through humble inquiry—to question the norm, to think of the impossible as possible, and to bring forward solutions to problems they see in their day-to-day roles.  

“With our strong culture throughout our organization, I’m confident we are ready to handle any change that comes forward at a week’s notice, a day’s notice, or a moment’s notice.”

Kevin Kain Director of Financial Planning and Operational Analysis ChristianaCare

How did your innovation-focused culture prepare you to respond to the new challenges of COVID-19?

Kain: Due to our philosophy of promoting innovation and adaptability, our team was able to pivot quickly despite the many unknowns at the start of the pandemic. We were concerned about our caregivers' wellbeing, ensuring we had enough personal protective equipment for our providers, securing housing for those who couldn't safely go home to their families after their shift, and providing childcare resources for those who were working.This was all in addition to working to ensure we had ventilators in place for our patients.

Our team had to be innovative, rapidly make decisions, and then ultimately understand the financial implications of those decisions. We quickly shifted our attention from an annual budgeting process to a monthly forecast at the local cost center location level. We also had to track all of our COVID-19 related expenses and all of our options for mitigation. We made the shift in four days. Our Workday Adaptive Planning implementation team helped to make this happen. I would’ve expected this to take four to six months. 

In April, we presented our finance executive board with multiple scenarios, including best case, worst case, and most likely case, including all the state and federal government relief options. We walked through how we could safeguard our organization and set the board up to make tough decisions in the upcoming months. 

“We encourage employees—through humble inquiry—to question the norm, to think of the impossible as possible, and to bring forward solutions to problems they see in their day-to-day roles.”

Kristen Raber Corporate Director, Cloud Innovation Lab ChristianaCare

How have you embraced emerging technology?

Raber: We’re focused on technology in a big way. We’re using artificial intelligence and RPA to influence how we run our business by helping us scale, solve problems, and minimize manual effort. With faster access to meaningful insights from our employees through regular pulse surveys, we’re able to pivot in ways that ultimately create a meaningful journey for patients.We are also actively exploring blockchain technology for its potential to change how we handle credentialing. Our first use case using blockchain technology went live last month on WayTo by Workday

Kain: To improve our business planning process, we launched Workday Adaptive Planning in December 2019 and continued through our budget process in January 2020. We educated over 400 planners with a goal to provide our fiscal year 2021 budget by April 15, 2020. Then the pandemic of COVID-19 hit and our executive leaders had to redirect their attention to the logistical, operational, clinical, and ultimately financial crisis. Because we embraced this new technology, we were able to quickly pivot and adapt to the changing environment. 

What role do partners play in supporting your transformation efforts? 

Raber: We value partners inside our organization, across healthcare, and outside of the industry. We engage with our internal partners and stakeholders to identify and address problems that stand in our way of providing the best care to our patients and our community. In our partnerships with vendors, we work with those who share our values and are willing to take risks to support our strategy. We look to vendors who know multiple industries and who listen to our problems first to learn what functionality we need rather than giving us a pre-planned roadmap. Our partnerships with vendors are also built on mutual success, as we take pride in helping vendors fill gaps we’re seeing in the industry. 

What advice would you give to others in the healthcare industry looking to innovate? 

Raber: Within your organization, encourage a culture of bold and courageous innovation. Create a safe environment to challenge the status quo, because you don’t get very far in innovation efforts without questioning. Be open to engaging new ways to solve the problems that impact your ability to serve your patients. Some of the most exciting innovation is coming from redefining traditional partnerships or by reaching across industry lines to draw forward emerging technologies and practices with new non-traditional relationships. 

Kain: In healthcare we constantly talk about the rapid changes happening and how to prepare, but “change” is vague and hard to conceptualize. When looking to the future in the healthcare industry, I recommend replacing the word “change” with “next.” And, as an organization, be ready for what’s next. 

To learn more about ChristianaCare’s story, its transition to the cloud, and its partnership with Workday, check out the webinar with Kristen Raber and Workday: Workday Helps ChristianaCare Transition to the Cloud.

Discover Workday’s healthcare solutions, and learn more about our recognition as Best in KLAS for Enterprise Resource Planning.

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