Long Live the Innovators!

Jan. 25, 2024
Is it time for you and your colleagues to toot your horns about your innovative work? It might just be

The leaders of U.S. patient care organizations—hospitals, medical groups, and health systems—are facing unprecedented challenges these days. More than two years after the COVID-19 pandemic began significantly easing, hospital revenue margins are still slender, though, as the experts at the Chicago-based Kaufman Hall consulting and advisory firm noted earlier this month, they are finally apparently solidly above zero percent, having reached 2.0 percent last November. Meanwhile, the overall U.S. healthcare system is sliding over a cost cliff, as the Medicare actuaries at CMS (the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) announced last June that total annual U.S. healthcare expenditures will reach a mindblowing $7.2 trillion by 2031, a staggering 63.64 percent higher than the 2022 estimate of $4.6 trillion that is our nation’s current annual healthcare cost burden. Driving the jaw-dropping cost increases will be the aging of the population—the U.S. Census Bureau predicts that the number of Americans 65 and older will leap from the current 2020 level of 54 million individuals to a mindblowing 80 million by 2040, with 15 million of those seniors being 85 years or older. What’s more, the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors reports that 60 percent of American adults are now living with one chronic disease, while 40 percent are living with multiple chronic diseases.

What’s clear to policy leaders at the federal, state and local levels is that simply moving forward with the existing healthcare system that we have will lead to unsustainability over time. The good news? Yes, there is some: innovation is exploding everywhere across the U.S. healthcare delivery system, as teams of pioneers move forward to improve patient outcomes and keep patients and consumers healthier, while also working to curb costs and improve clinical operations—while at the same time easing burdens on nurses, physicians, and other clinicians. It’s a heavy lift—but one being taken on by more and more pioneers.

At Healthcare Innovation, we take innovation seriously; indeed, the word is in our very publication’s name. And every year for over a dozen years now, we have been showcasing the work of healthcare pioneers through our annual Healthcare Innovation Innovator Awards program. Last year alone, we honored four winning teams from across the country, as well as seven runner-up teams. At the Toledo, Ohio-based ProMedica health system, leaders cracked the code on leveraging data around the social determinants of health (SDOH), in order to successfully connect patients with social needs, to community service organizations. Developing an SDOH screening tool was the key step involved, and the ProMedica folks figured how to build their tool from scratch, using it to screen hundreds of thousands of patients for social needs since then.

Meanwhile, in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, leaders at FLIPA, the Finger Lakes IPA, have created a system of better connecting behavioral and physical healthcare and care management. And leaders at the Memorial Hermann Health System, the largest not-for-profit health system in the Houston metro area, created a strategy to improve patient outcomes and control costs at the same time, and have achieved impressive results. And across the country in Miami, a team at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital has addressed the common gap in care management that typically takes place when new moms leave their babies who had been cared for in the NICU, through their nurse-led telehealth transitioning program, “Baby Steps.”

These four teams, and the seven runner-up teams, offer wonderful examples of innovation on the ground, created by leaders in the trenches of care delivery and patient care operations. What’s wonderful is how there are so very many examples like these bubbling up all across the country. Might teams at your patient care organization be creating innovation? If so, we want to hear about your organization’s innovation. We know that you and others are working hard to improve our healthcare system—and we want to let all the other “yous,” all our readers across the country, know about these wonderful goings-on.

So, won’t you fill out the submission form and get your chance at recognition in our Innovator Awards program? Here’s the link: https://endeavor.swoogo.com/innovator_awards_2024

And if you and your colleagues are involved in innovating our healthcare system towards the future, we want to spread the word. After all, innovation is in our name!



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