Making Ideas Pay at Atrium Health

March 15, 2021

In our “Design for Impact — Making Ideas Pay at Atrium Health” Master Class, Todd Dunn and Tad Haas explored how the healthcare provider approaches innovation. 

During the call, the pair discussed: 

  • How to design for impact, putting hard dollar savings, efficiencies (quality), and transformation at the forefront of innovation
  • How to align innovation methodology with the business model and execution strategy
  • The journey of getting all stakeholders on board with your innovation process and the value they can bring
  • Best practices around healthcare innovation that are practical to all industries.

Dunn is the Vice President of Innovation at Atrium Health with 20 years of experience in healthcare innovation. Haas, the Executive Vice President of edison365, moderates the conversation. edison365 works with Microsoft365 to help teams gain a transparent view of their entire innovation portfolio. 

Two themes discussed in the call follow. Watch the full video above for more. 

The Little Wins Add Up 

Todd Dunn: If you think about the three types of innovation — efficiency, sustaining, and transformative — in a really good design, efficiency innovation will help fund the other ones. When you lose so much money from a pandemic like this, how do you start thinking about efficiency, innovation at scale, making ideas pay? 

For me, from my vantage point in the company, it was more about: How do we recover from the pandemic financially? And how do we scale? The notion in the disciplines of efficiency innovation is to find, as I would call it, coins in the couch and dollars in the dryer. 

When I first got here [to Atrium Health] last year, I was talking to Jim Dunn, our Chief People Officer, and we were talking about the need…in a company of 60,000 [or] 70,000 employees: How do you harness their ideas to improve things? … Over the last 10 years or so, people are always chasing the big win, the big win, the big win. And the way that I think about it is if we can find coins in the couch and dollars in the dryer from 70,000 people, then that can really add up to a pretty significant number. 

[The purpose of thinking] about coins in the couch and dollars in the dryer is to get us to think about small wins that can fit into our day-to-day world, versus having to always chase these big massive wins. 

Getting the Core Business to Welcome Ideas 

Todd Dunn: [Explain to the business units that the innovation team is] not trying to take over their life. What we’re trying to do, if you just take business model innovation, is every single business model has to exploit what they have and explore something better to remain relevant to a consumer. And so we go [in] knowing they have that problem. They all have goals and aspirations and they’re being attacked from every point. … It’s not my team’s aspiration to innovate for anybody. We want to innovate with you.  

Stay curious for a very long time, and stay empathetic for a very long time. If you find out what they’re struggling with, and you can have…them explain it to you, show it to you. Part of the way I’ve done this in the past…is you got to set them up as the hero. … I used to ask the question, “Would it be okay if I shared an idea with you that I think would help you get there?” … Find the early adopters, because this is a five to 10 year journey.