Health innovation: A cure for COVID-19 disruptions
October 16, 2020
Times are tough. COVID-19 has battered the healthcare ecosystem’s ability to heal, driving massive shortages in clinicians, hospital beds and medical supplies. How can organizations best weather this storm? Some healthcare players have a one-word solution: innovation.
A select group of health systems and hospitals are differentiating themselves from their peers, investing in the innovations they need to navigate the long-term uncertainties imposed by COVID-19. These organizations have pinpointed innovation as the best way to address the challenges of “the now, the next and the never normal” in the healthcare ecosystem. They recognize innovation can support care seekers, patients, clinicians, suppliers and the general public now, enable them to deal with the next threats and opportunities, and negotiate the chaotic shifts in cultural norms, values and behaviors posed by never normal long-term developments.
COVID-19 has brutally tested elements of the current healthcare value chain and found them lacking. Forward-thinking health players are using these insights to reimagine healthcare’s future in innovative ways. The following three healthcare organizations exemplify this trend of using near-term innovations to redefine their business and operating models for the era of COVID-19 and beyond.
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Mayo Clinic enjoys a storied reputation as a health innovator. Today, whether partnering with MIT to develop contact tracing apps1, or collaborating2 with data analytics startup nference® to uncover COVID-19 hotspots, it continues to serve as a model for health innovation.
Mayo has recently underscored its status as a leading health innovator by launching the Mayo Clinic Innovation Exchange3 in June 2020. The Exchange connects health care entrepreneurs and startups with the support they need, equipping them to navigate the challenges of starting a business in healthcare and to seize new opportunities emerging as a result of the pandemic.
“We officially launched as a life sciences incubator and in a month or two, realized our business model had to change because we could make these connections virtually...we could be more effective at scale through virtual exchange models” said Dr. Charles Bruce, the Exchange’s Medical Director and Mayo Clinic Florida’s Chief Innovation Officer, in an interview with Accenture. “The pandemic validated what we had discovered, so the timing was prescient.”
The Exchange makes available Mayo’s medical professionals, research scientists, and business advisors, providing Exchange members with state-of-the-art facilities and access to Mayo Clinic’s funding network.
The Innovation Exchange is already fostering solutions for surviving the now of COVID-19. For example, TECHFIT Digital Surgery, an Exchange member, is developing an affordable ventilator prototype for use in Colombia. The Exchange has also responded to the COVID-19 crisis with a call for entrepreneurs4 working on projects in the virtual care and telehealth spaces.
By creating this innovation ecosystem, Mayo Clinic is incubating the rapid transformations needed to navigate finding new and novel solutions to improve people’s health and healthcare.
PredictMedix has made a recent acquisition that should enable it to thrive in the never normal environment of COVID-19 and empower its clients to reopen their operations safely. The company focuses on artificial intelligence (AI) technologies for the healthcare industries. In June 2020, it acquired5 MobileWellbeing, a developer of telehealth, telemedicine and mobile healthcare technology platforms. The purchase provides a gateway for PredictMedix to use its AI toolkit to prevent and treat COVID-19 through MobileWellbeing’s telehealth channels6. Specifically, PredictMedix has pinpointed MobileWellbeing’s user base as a target for the deployment of its AI-powered predictive mass screening tool for COVID-19. The tool uses AI to detect positive cases without human intervention or the collection of bodily fluids.
A number of offices and retailers7 have already adopted the tool, and PredictMedix applied to patent the technology in June 2020. The MobileWellbeing acquisition gives the company a new avenue to screen thousands of civilians instantly. This investment in delivering remote, contactless COVID-19 care has distinguished PredictMedix as a leader in preserving civilian safety in the now and next normals while also creating a scalable framework for testing in the never normal.
English company Lantum, a workforce management platform for healthcare staff and a finalist in the Accenture HealthTech Innovation Challenge, has partnered with the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) to provide solutions that ensure sufficient COVID-19 surge capacity.
Lantum‘s end-to-end staffing platform provides the NHS with regional insights8 about hospital staffing levels, pinpointing areas of high demand for medical personnel. These insights enable the flow of needed NHS staff across hospital networks in the UK. Lantum has also launched a digital employment marketplace9 enabling certified general practitioners to locate medical centers that need their services, thus bridging the gap between the supply and demand of frontline clinicians. The partnership between Lantum and the NHS demonstrates the power of innovation to optimize a healthcare organization’s response to COVID-19 challenges now.
According to CEO Melissa Morris, Lantum added new features to its platform, such as the ability to flag Covid-19 patients and adapt billing protocols, at the request of the NHS. It completed these innovations in a matter of days as opposed to the weeks it would have normally taken. “From an innovation standpoint, you are forced to make strategic decisions in the short term (due to the COVID-19 pandemic),” said Ms. Morris in an interview with Accenture.
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I believe organizations committed to innovation are well-positioned both to survive the challenges of the now and to capitalize on the opportunities spawned by the next and the never normal in healthcare’s future. Accenture’s innovation architecture – a suite of offerings to deliver disruptive ways of winning – provides the ability to ideate, incubate, and scale innovation in even the toughest of times.
These stories show that when the going gets tough, the tough innovate – for better health outcomes.