Hospital innovation needs to catch up to Wal-Mart...STAT

Posted by Paradigm Learning on September 05, 2014

Hospital Innovation

Recently, I read an article in Becker’s Hospital Review by Kenneth Kauffman titled Wal-Mart’s lessons for reinventing hospitals. Kauffman provides an overview of ways this very successful retail organization has initiated major change by challenging long-held assumptions about its basic business model and suggests that hospitals do the same.

For example, as convenience has become more important to consumers, Wal-Mart has responded by moving away from its mega-store model and into smaller stores with more geographic distribution. Wal-Mart-to-Go, Wal-Mart Express and Neighborhood Market mini-stores are some of the company’s latest initiatives to deal with the changing consumer landscape.

U.S. hospitals face this same consumer convenience issue. Hospitals, according to Kauffman, “are seeing their business…targeted by non-hospital competitors from convenience clinics to freestanding outpatient surgery centers to web-based companies, all offering more convenience and lower prices. Many hospitals are, in turn, responding with their own integrated networks of new entry points for patients, including urgent care centers and in-home care.”

The article makes a strong case for urgent action by hospitals to revisit their business models and to make the investments required to implement new ways of doing business.

Paradigm Learning works with many hospitals in the throes of reinventing themselves. They face many obstacles to execution, not the least of which is having the necessary investment dollars in their world of shrinking margins. In all cases, we have found that one of the most critical challenges is to realign their workforces around new business realities and get them on board with new ways of doing business.

In our new whitepaper, The New Healthcare Workforce: Strategically Aligned, Business Savvy and Accountable, I discuss why this is so important and provide ways for healthcare leaders to approach this challenge. Some of these include:

  • Make it Simple: Frame messages of change in ways that answer key questions like: “What is happening? Why is it happening? What does this mean to the hospital/to me? Why should I care?”
  • Use visuals and metaphors: Help people grasp ideas more easily by using these elements creatively; not everyone learns and retains information in the same way.
  • Draw on emotion: Cold statistics alone don’t work. Use emotional approaches like storytelling to engage learners more intensely and personally.
  • Be consistent and authentic: Employees will see through false rah-rah approaches. Instead, be positive but realistic in your communications and be willing to address the bad along with the good.

Engaging employees in the hospital’s vision of future success will go a long way toward generating the kind of commitment and action required at all organizational levels.

By the way, Wal-Mart has begun introducing its own primary care clinics. The clock is ticking! The best hospitals understand that they need to revisit their models, implement new patient-driven change, and rally employees around ever-evolving healthcare business realities.

Topics: Healthcare, Strategic Alignment