On any given day, CIOs are being presented with ideas that could potentially reduce costs, improve care, or even accomplish both. But how can CIOs who are already juggling so many priorities filter through these concepts to find the ones that can truly be game-changers? And even if they find an ace, how can they cash in on it?
Believe it or not, it is possible. And in fact, it’s becoming essential for CIOs to incorporate commercialization into their strategy, according to Marc Probst and Katherina Holzhauser of Intermountain Healthcare, who will co-present a session on this topic next week.
“We have to diversify how we make money and how we create revenue,” says Probst, who has been CIO at the 22-hospital system for more than a decade.
Four years ago, Intermountain took a big step toward diversification by creating a culture of ‘intrepeneurship’ in which internal assets are turned into market-facing products and services that can help increase the organization’s bottom line while still supporting its mission to improve the delivery of care.
What it doesn’t mean is that hospitals are turned into idea factories that focus more on revenue than on providing top-quality care; there’s a balance required to make it work, notes Probst. “It’s never going to be 50/50 with commercial versus what we do day to day. But if we could get 10 or 15 percent of our revenue coming from sources that are outside traditional healthcare delivery, and that can offset some of the costs we’re incurring on the delivery side, then that’s a good thing. That helps facilitate our caregiving mission and does it in a way that’s natural to what we do.”
Boosting the bottom line, however, is just one motivation for adopting a commercialization model. “This business generates sense of innovation and a little more excitement within the IS organization,” Probst says. “It has tremendous value, because it really is about enhancing the mission,” Probst adds. “If we have something we think the market can utilize to improve care and lower costs, then we should be doing something about it.”
Another benefit to being able to showcase innovation is that it can help recruit top talent. A perfect example is Holhauser, who was brought to Intermountain more than two years ago as assistant VP of commercialization, and has since had her role expanded to include strategy and innovation.
It was Intermountain’s commitment to innovation that attracted her to the organization and has kept her motivated as interpeneurship has gained momentum. “The way we approach this is, let’s think about creative things we can do to not just help Intermountain and our community, but also hopefully help the nation with the challenges we all have by taking our best practices out there.”
As any leader can attest, however, it’s one thing to have great ideas; it’s quite another to be able to take them to market. That’s precisely what she and Probst will discuss during the presentation, during which they will discuss the value and challenges of working with an external partner to develop and market solutions and identify operational areas that need to be addressed to commercialize assets.
And there certainly are areas to be addressed.
“Where the rubber meets the road is in the model — how do you set up the myriad things that have to happen in order to make the money flow, to make the ideas flow, and actually deliver the goods and services to someone else that can actually implement them and do something with them,” says Holhauser.
She and Probst will delve more into Intermountain’s journey during their presentation, which will take place Thursday, Oct. 15 at 10 a.m.