(Guest blogger Sarah Richardson is vice president of IT change leadership at OptumCare.)

In the first part of this article, I discussed the importance of reskilling the workforce to keep up with market demands and the importance of building strategic partnerships for innovation. In this post, I’ll share some innovative tools and technology in healthcare, best practices for deploying new tools, and how culture contributes to innovation. 

Innovative Tools and Technology in Healthcare

For many years, deploying electronic health records (EHR) was the center of our universe in healthcare IT. Now, our ability to pull data out of silos and into self-service business reporting dashboards is transforming business operations. 

Anything we can do to streamline the number and usability of the tools our clinicians need to do their jobs makes their lives easier. For example, an emerging AI-powered technology, ambient clinical intelligence (ACI), can securely pick up a conversation between a patient and clinician and put those insights directly into the EHR. AI will continue to transform clinical workflows by allowing providers to have more time directly with their patients. 

Best Practices for Deploying New Technologies

When making technology decisions within an organization, innovation starts with buy-in across the board and requires an ecosystem of governance and support. The approach must involve an executive partner, engage stakeholders, and include a project-delivery playbook that includes a summary of which innovations generate the most value for the organization. 

A clear direction and speedy iterations often matter more than the actual approach. Think about iteration in terms of succeeding or failing fast, so the expectation is not to be perfect every time. Creating a pilot program of the new technology for people within the organization willing to accept and champion the new technology can greatly influence wider adoption. 

Innovate by having solutions that span business models, team structures, and a variety of care settings. When implementing technology, there are multiple ways: how we’re taught by the vendor, the way we deliver it ourselves, and the actuality of putting it into production and retooling on a continuous basis. Some pieces may not work how we expect, so capture faults, create solutions, and improve processes.

Creating a Culture Ready for Innovation 

Lastly, never underestimate the impact culture has on driving, or slowing innovation. One person can start to change a culture, but it takes years to significantly shift—so factor a realistic view of your culture into your plans. And, realize that building a culture comfortable with failure requires transparency and humility. As a healthcare IT leader, you can model those behaviors. For example, do you talk about “failure” as creativity or do you assign blame? Talk about failure and success together, and educate the organization on why both are necessary as part of the larger innovation strategy.

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