Organization A started by defining and “selling” the value add of innovation to meet this need. The organizational recognition of the need for dedicated resources crystallized to an innovation strategy that addressed time to payoff, risk aversion, and return on investment concerns associated with new technology and care delivery.
However, Organization A’s methodology to meet this need, the leadership team, and overall culture to embrace and adopt anything new faced a significant learning curve. In 2018, the healthcare industry experienced a flood of digital health market entrants, many of which miscalculated national provider shortages and challenges to recruit and retain clinicians to staff their applications. This need quickly resulted in Organization A facing an ever-increasing pipeline of opportunities with requests to engage or partner with digital health start-up ventures.
As COVID catalyzed virtual care further, an abundance of opportunities emerged with both start-ups and medium to large established digital health companies and regionalized payers. Many start-ups in the digital health market segment had executed contracts with health systems and payers but did not have the provider networks they needed to effectively staff the applications and serve patients. Start-ups and established digital health companies were grappling to meet new scale requirements in line with growth expectations. Determining which ventures to explore and which companies engage presented both opportunity and challenge for Organization A.
It was not possible nor wise to partner with every innovative digital health option that came along. This landscape generated the need for strategy and methodology for the selection of innovation investment and partnership opportunities. To meet this need, Organization A allocated intentional time and resources under the leadership of the Chief Growth Officer position and team members including the newly created Vice President of Innovation and Product Development and Director of Innovation roles.
Together, this team was responsible for managing and navigating ongoing deals and partnerships with digital health start-ups based on selection criteria and an overall innovation strategy that the organization developed collaboratively. The innovation team also established an internal process and methodology to develop new products and services utilizing existing company strengths and capabilities. Their innovation strategy was primarily built based on the organization’s key priorities and needs. The overall concept was that innovation should first and foremost be leveraged to address pressing challenges and solve problems that the organization, their service community, and their patients were facing. Together, this team also worked across the organization to develop a system for formal review of innovation opportunities and a project lifecycle to ensure successful implementation.