While every other industry surges ahead in technology, strategies, and resilience, healthcare plods down its own path at a slow and steady pace. But this is one tortoise that might not make it to the finish line.
We're not doing ourselves any favors by saying that healthcare providers in this country are at the cutting edge, particularly where it comes to supply chain. Even if you've moved past paper count sheets - and not enough hospitals have - you're probably lagging in some other area.
And that's okay!
The only way to start learning more is admitting that you have more to learn. Which, of course, you do. We do, too. So does everybody else.
And that's the first part of what our CEO Carl Natenstedt outlined in recent episodes of Take 5: An Inventory Series.
5 Aspects of an Innovation Mindset
1. Be open to new ideas.
The fact that you're reading this means you're already ahead of the vast majority of people in your field. You're willing to entertain new ideas, and you realize that new ideas are the only way to stay competitive.
And that's the best way to stay competitive. The hospitals that say, "But this is the way we've always done it," won't always be able to keep doing it, either because industry-wide pressure will force them to adapt to a new way of doing things, or because they'll be left in the dust.
But it doesn't all have to be competition. Whether it's part of direct collaboration between your organization and another in the industry, or you're adopting strategies that have led the competition to success, you have to...
2. Pay attention to the market.
You have a great grasp on what's going on in your facilities. You probably have a pretty good grasp on general industry trends in your area of expertise - be it logistics, finance, warehouse management, care delivery, whatever - and that's a great start.
You probably know, regardless of the industry, the way we become more competitive and better serve our communities is to back every decision with data. (That's a great way to innovate, too. Just make sure that the data you have is good data. Seems obvious.)
You don't have to be an expert in everything. Probably not even more than one thing. But you have to keep your eyes and ears out for new offerings - whether they're businesses or ways of doing business - that could make your organization more efficient.
But if you wait for these solutions to find you, you'll miss out on the opportunity to...
3. Seek out new solutions.
We've always relied on conferences, since that's the place where you can interact with the most problem solvers in the smallest amount of time. In the age where we currently find ourselves, we've been forced to find alternatives.
For us, that's meant lots of webinars, many of which are put on by people and companies with no agenda beyond trying to help, like the folks at the Institute of Healthcare Executives and Suppliers. They've been putting out great video content that highlights great work, whether it's being done by providers or solution providers.
But you won't know about it if you don't go looking for it. Luckily one of the best ways to find out about what's working (and what's not) is also the easiest. It's nothing more complicated than deciding to...
4. Talk to your colleagues.
We talked recently about how you can lean on your own staff to help you evaluate solutions that you either don't understand or don't have the time to tackle properly. But you've got resources across the entire country - really, the entire world - that are only a Zoom call or article read away. Ask others in your position what they've tried and what they liked.
And, even more importantly, you should be getting references whenever possible from the vendors who are approaching you. Use them. Call or email to see what worked. And what didn't. It may help you find out about a new strategy or vendor, and it may help you dodge a new strategy or vendor that's terrible.
5. Take a risk.
The good news is that you don't have to go all-out when evaluating a new vendor, a new solution, or a new idea, period. Especially in today's climate, you don't have to fly out a potential partner's whole team and assemble your whole team for a whole afternoon's worth of presentations and discussion. You can get anybody who's interested on a thirty-minute Zoom call and call it a day.
And not everybody you talk to in meetings like that is going to have a great case study of why they were successful. We do now, but we didn't always. It took someone trusting that we could do what we said we could do - and us offering a money-back guarantee that they would experience a significant ROI - for us to prove that hospitals could save millions of dollars by reallocating their excess supplies.
So ask the person you're meeting who they know in the industry. Let's be honest -- it's small enough that you can probably find someone you both know. Then, if they check out and their offering seems like it's worth the risk, take the risk.
The saying isn't "nothing ventured, some things gained if you're super lucky."
We promise we'll properly sanitize the bird before sending it back to you. (Which tees up nicely this week's episode of Take 5: An Inventory Series all about infection prevention with the experts of Onsite-LLC. Almost like we planned it all along...)