Prioritizing internal health system innovation to drive improved outcomes, reduce costs, and commercialize employee ideas
Since its founding over 40 years ago, Intermountain Healthcare has been committed to supporting employee ingenuity. An early, notable example came from Dr. Homer Warner and his development of HELP (Health Evaluation through Logical Processing), one of the nation’s first electronic medical records. Today, innovation continues to be a priority for Intermountain and is a pillar of its core strategy, supporting three main goals: improve quality of care while reducing costs, cherish the needs of patients and members and enable a unique competitive advantage in the market.
Despite Intermountain’s strong culture and legacy of innovation, there remained a gap in its innovation capabilities: there was no central, coordinated way to support employee ideas. Lacking this mechanism, employees often felt frustrated and Intermountain missed out on some critical opportunities to advance and capitalize on the ground-breaking solutions being developed from within.
In 2014, Intermountain aimed to enhance its innovation strategy by partnering with Healthbox to launch the Intermountain Foundry, a rigorous, transparent and data driven approach towards the evaluation and selection of employee-led ideas for mentoring and resourcing. Each year, the Intermountain Foundry solicits innovative and impactful employee ideas which have strong commercial potential and/or significant opportunity to add internal enterprise value. Ideas are evaluated and scored by a committee of more than 20 internal and external stakeholders. The top 4 projects are then chosen to complete an intensive commercialization program, while ideas not selected are triaged to other resources for further support. The output of the Foundry Program is an objective, clear business model assessment and outline of resources necessary to accelerate each of the projects. A committee of Intermountain leadership uses this to prioritize those ideas that merit further development and funding.
Since 2014, Intermountain has run three Programs. 135 ideas have been submitted, representing 17 of its 22 hospitals. The number and diversity of applicants have risen each year. There has also been a progressive increase in the maturity and quality of projects and increasing focus on promotion of the patient experience (see supporting document). 12 projects have been selected to participate in the Program. Of the projects that have received ongoing funding, half have near-term commercial potential to generate revenue through licensing agreements and are regularly managed to a commercial mindset and timeline. The remaining funded projects have near-term internal potential to improve patient experience, enhance provider satisfaction and reduce costs.
One example of a commercialized project is ROMS, (Rehab Outcomes Management System), a web-based outcomes analytics tool that supports evidence-based decision making for physical therapists. Intermountain leadership believes that the Foundry has clearly strengthened the organization’s innovation strategy and its ability to better serve its patients.