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SBJ photo by EMILY LETTERMAN
SBJ photo by EMILY LETTERMAN

A Conversation With … Scott Rogers on innovation

Posted online
Explain CoxHealth’s Innovation Accelerator.
Innovation from a perspective of developing new things, in a lot of organizations, comes from the top – “Hey, we need to do this or change this.” We do that as part of the strategic plan, but one of the things a lot of organizations miss is the bottom up innovation. The people that work on their jobs every day, that spend a lot of processing time in their brains, thinking of ways to do things better. We didn’t have a mechanism or process to bring those out. It was very happenstance.

The first accelerator launched last year. What came out of it?
The first thing was people seeing this event with a lot of energy, not knowing what to expect. That kind of event got energy going, but the ability for these people to have their ideas heard was great. Leading into this year, it was exactly like we hoped would happen. People from last year (would) say, “That was so fun. You have to do this, you have to try this.” This year, the ideas were really well researched.

What was last year’s winning idea?
Pharmacy delivery was the winning one. One of the things I love about this idea is we start and pilot things, but then its how does that evolve? Pharmacy delivery was [asking] how do we deliver pharmaceuticals to our employees? The need to not leave their station or if they have a 3 a.m. shift – how do we deliver their personal meds to them? It’s been great for our employees, but we’ve also got several thousand in additional revenue because now it’s convenient. What that does is, when we use our telemedicine product, if we can learn how to deliver to our employees, we can learn how to deliver to an employer group. Now, how do we grow that business into something different? That is part of the value of the process, it’s the evolution of the idea.

What was the winning idea this year?
How do we use some of our telehealth technology to streamline some of our registration process. We don’t exactly know what that will look like. The concept is, you go to an airport, you can check in online, you can check in at the kiosk or you can go to the desk. Right now in health care, you go to the desk. How do we tweak that to let people pick the registration process that fits their needs?

What’s the process look like going forward?
We had an abundance of good ideas this year. We are taking about 30 of the ideas and have assigned a vice president to them. They will communicate with the person who pitched that idea to work out a small-business plan to see if it has merit. Some of these may be too expensive for the value, some may be easy but not have a lot of impact. Some ideas can blend in with other things we are already doing.

Will the accelerator continue next year?
I think so. (CoxHealth President and CEO Steve Edwards) made a comment saying something like, “I wasn’t sure we would have enough new ideas to do this a second year. But based on what I saw, absolutely we do, and this was better than the first year.” I have two other hospitals across the state that have reached out that want information on what we have done. Employee engagement isn’t something that just hospitals can learn, but employers across Springfield.

Scott Rogers is system director for performance integration and innovation for CoxHealth. He can be reached at Scott.Rogers@coxhealth.com.

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