As part of an interview series with healthcare leaders across the country, the Olive team had the chance to interview, Ben Tingey, about the biggest challenges facing healthcare today and the potential for artificial intelligence to transform the industry. Previous to his current role as Innovation Manager at Atrium Health, he received his Masters of Healthcare Administration from The George Washington University.
Industry insights from leader in healthcare innovation
Q: As an Innovation Manager at Atrium, what advice would you give a team considering a new technology at their healthcare organization?
Remember to fall in love with the problem, not a solution.
It’s important to take the time to validate the solution being considered and ask ourselves: is this what the patient or internal stakeholder truly needs? We tend to think technology is the only or the best solution, rather than taking the time to get out of the office and go talk with the key stakeholders impacted, observing them as they interact with the service, getting inside their minds. That act allows those considering the solution to more effectively identify current pain points. As an organization carries forward with technology selection, it is critical to keep stakeholders involved, seeking their input throughout the selection and/or design of the solution. For example, if it’s a patient-facing technology – involve patients in helping you decide which solution you choose – or design a solution with them instead of designing for them.
At Atrium Health, one of my responsibilities is to help lead environment scanning efforts such as researching trends, new business models, startup companies, and the strategic implications to our system strategy. The question I would challenge someone considering new technology to ask is, “Have you scanned the market to see everything that’s out there?”
Ask yourself and your stakeholders:
- What other technologies exist that solve the same or similar problems?
- Is my organization prepared to work with a new technology?
- How will we handle change management and required integrations?
Organizations consistently underestimate the change management required to successfully integrate a new technology, and the change management required for successful consumer adoption. There’s often asymmetry of pace and bureaucracy between technology companies and hospital systems, so set yourself – and your selected vendor – up for success by moderating some of your expectations and over communicating.
Q: What are your motivations for hosting your podcast, A Sherpas Guide to Innovation?
My team at Atrium Health is the Innovation Engine, and we’ve adopted the moniker of “Sherpa” to describe what we do. We consider ourselves the humble, experienced navigators helping Atrium Health get up the mountain of innovation – we carry the baggage, know the terrain, we ensure everyone gets to their destination safely. We succeed when they succeed.
The podcast began as a creative outlet for our team. We share a love of podcasts, and exchange episodes regularly, so one day we said, “Let’s start our own podcast.” We felt we had worthwhile content to share with the world and wanted to engage in the national discussion about improving healthcare.
To transform the healthcare industry, we need new mindsets, new tools, and new frameworks to solve tomorrow’s challenges. We are fully convinced that innovation is the pathway forward. If leaders across healthcare embrace innovation, we’ll be enabled to make the industry more consumer centric and financially sustainable, and to be designed with people in mind, instead of processes. Through the podcast we have learned from innovators, in healthcare and other industries as well. What started out as a creative outlet has also fueled our internal research function, as experts have shared their perspectives on the podcast.
Q: If you could eliminate one of the healthcare industry’s challenges overnight, which one would it be?
I would eliminate the fear associated with having to pay for healthcare. There are lots of statistics about medical bills being the primary reason for bankruptcy, all while healthcare costs are rising, and income levels remain flat. It’s personal for me – I had a close friend in his late 20s who came home from work one day not feeling well. He laid down to rest and progressively got worse, but didn’t want to seek care because he was too afraid of the cost of going to the ER. He ended up waiting too long and had a stroke. The tragic part is that strokes are extremely treatable if people can get care soon enough, but because he was so fearful of the cost, he delayed getting care and he passed away that night, leaving behind a wife and three children.
Imagine how many people would seek care if the fear of cost was absent, and how many lives we could save.
There are so many solutions to the healthcare cost problem and I won’t opine about which is best, but in the end we must remember that healthcare is an emotional journey. Imagine if we could eliminate a major cause of fear for patients in an already frightening experience. There would be tremendous relief and improvement for so many people.
Q: What excites you most about the future of artificial intelligence in healthcare?
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to restore meaning in the industry by maximizing the opportunity for human connections. I admire the heroic efforts providers make every single day. These are incredible people who are well trained – with the biggest hearts, but unfortunately most are encumbered by workflows and processes that require spending hours behind screens. It’s a dissatisfier, preventing providers from making the difference they originally set out to achieve.
Artificial Intelligence can remove many of those mundane tasks, giving providers more time to focus on the healing art of human connection, or to address more complex medical challenges.
As we embrace all that A.I. has to offer, we may be tempted to fill up the provider’s time with more visits or tasks. Instead, we should carve out the time and space to truly engage with patients and discover the factors that are influencing people’s health. Artificial intelligence has a huge opportunity to address provider burnout and give more time back to figure out what is preventing people from living healthier lives.
Q: Where do you go for inspiration and fresh ideas?
My family, my wife and my four boys inspire me every day. I also have a healthy supply of podcasts and audiobooks in the queue. Some of my favorite podcasts are “How I Built This with Guy Raz,” Reid Hoffman’s “Masters of Scale,” Brigham Young University’s “Maxwell Institute Podcast,” and Malcolm Gladwell’s “Revisionist History Podcast.”
I also seek out analogous learning from other industries, countries, and from history. It takes you out of your current context and helps you think about problems in a different way. If I’m looking for fresh ideas about how to do something faster, smarter, or maybe more tech-infused, I look to startup companies. If I’m looking for the wisdom of the ages or for leadership development, I might read a biography – inspiration can really come from anywhere.
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