2 Clinicians and an Entrepreneur Talk Innovation in Healthcare

Pua Cooper, MSN, RN, CMUP, chief clinical information officer, Boca Raton Hospital punctuated the fact that if your organization is not moving, it’s falling behind. Innovators talk about what can be improved – and they discuss what’s broken. They also make it a point to know what resources they have at their disposal. The only constant is the change.

Ms. Cooper’s comments are just one nugget of wisdom that I took away from eMerge America’s “Innovation + Disruption = Growth,” a panel discussion recently hosted by Florida Atlantic University’s Tech Runway.

Modernizing Medicine’s Danielle Maclean, director of product management, moderated the panel. A rheumatologist from Modernizing Medicine, Dr. Elana M. Oberstein, MD, MPH, senior medical director, musculoskeletal was a panelist and Max Cacchione, founder and CEO of rotationmanager.com represented the entrepreneurial vantage point.

Ms. Cooper provided an informaticist’s point of view. Her sage wisdom is backed up by her hospital’s culture of innovation – and its history of being a model for embracing change (this isn’t the first time I have heard her speak. Last year, I attended an exceptional open house at Boca Raton Hospital that was sponsored by the South Florida HIMSS Chapter.)

Below are select sound bites from all of the panelists:


Disruption occurs when gaps exist.

Cacchione: Entrepreneurs look for gaps and overlooked niches. That’s how rotationmanager.com came to be. It solved a big problem for nursing students and hospitals – managing nursing students’ rotations. The online product innovatively replaces manual means such as fax, email, and paper.

Unconnected dots can cause disruption.

Oberstein: Many patients really want to present their medical histories in an understandable way, but they simply didn’t have the means to do so. One doctor may have an online system, but invariably, it isn’t integrated with any of the other practices with which the patient engages — or with the new portals many laboratories are offering for posting results (that’s why many patients resort to arriving with overflowing three ring binders).

The need for a better way causes disruption. 

Cooper: Wound care at Boca Raton Regional a great example. The steps in the previous process were cumbersome: Buy a supply of digital cameras from an office supply store. Snap pictures of the wound. Print hardcopy photos. Attach the photos to the patient chart. Watch three to five minutes of your workday vaporize. In the case of patients with multiple wounds, double or triple the elapsed time. Say goodbye to fifteen minutes of lost productivity each day.

To solve the problem, the Boca Regional team partnered with a vendor that allowed the hospital be a Beta site for new technology. Here’s the new process: Use an iPad to snap photos at the bedside. Scan the patient’s barcode. Scan my credentials. Revel in the fact that the process took only ONE minute, and amazingly, photos and crucial information immediately are available in the electronic health record (EHR)! In fact, thanks to digital imagery, the nurses’ rate of actually seeing and addressing wounds skyrocketed from 30% to 97%! 


Nurture those who are resistant to change. 

Cooper: Socializing ideas in the workplace is key. Realize that not everyone embraces change at the same pace. Add to that the fact that executive champions must be nurtured. (Cooper’s team worked hand-in-hand with the hospital’s CIO to build buy-in.) In short, collaboration is crucial.

The overworked are conversion champions.

Cacchione: A client at a healthcare entity was charged with regularly processing 50,000 documents – that was in addition to completing her duties as a nurse. The workload was impossible. That scenario gave way to innovation. The nurse brought up the pain point and her team collaborated to find a resolution.

Believers convert easily.

Oberstein: Telemedicine already is embraced by many physicians. Because there are only 4500 board-certified physicians in rheumatology in the US, there are entire states that do not have a board certified rheumatologist. The wait to see a physician in some subspecialties such as pediatric rheumatology can exceed six months. This is a case in which believers (clinicians) must leverage technology platforms such as telehealth in order to serve the needs of the population.


Innovation starts at the top and continues through the ranks.

Cacchione: In entrepreneurial companies, innovation starts with an executive vision and continues with hiring followers. Hire people who share the vision and have the mental flexibility to be open to new ideas.

Innovation is a team sport – or a village activity

Oberstein: Partnership on a psychological level goes a long way. Get patients involved and they will use a patient portal. To improve workflow at the front desk, urge them to populate information online before they arrive at a doctor’s office.

Recognize that elderly and infirmed or chronically ill patients may be unable to use portals. To solve this problem, the industry has created scribes who follow doctors to capture documentation and ambassadors to help patients use in-office portals and kiosks.

These are just a few of the insights the panelists shared at “Innovation + Disruption = Growth.” To learn more, click on the links below:                                                                                 

Mark your calendar for future activities: watch for a HIMSS-sponsored Healthcare Webinar in late March and register for Citrix Synergy 2017, May 23-25, Orlando Florida.