Making an IT organization more innovative requires stepping back and reflecting upon the identity of the department or the organization. Ritesh Ramesh, CTO of MDaudit, shares strategies to employ to optimize IT innovation and make your organization future-ready.
In part one of this two-part explainer on IT innovation, we focussed on the necessary traits to drive innovation and key strategies to build success. It’s always important to ask a few questions when planning on change and innovation. What are you attempting to create, what do you want to build in service to your organization or customers, and which direction or priority do you desire to take? In so doing, note your team’s achievements, then celebrate them. This time is a great time to determine what is working, what areas missed the mark, and how to take steps to improve.
Improvements might come in the form of better people management, more detailed plans for budgets, important initiatives, or priority management. Singling out achievements accomplished is essential, though, and should be noted. Now is not the time to focus on failure or missed steps (make a note of them to improve), but call out what programmatic success the IT elements in your organization have experienced and build on them.
From here, you can foundationally begin setting new or next goals. Based on the success experienced, you may be able to ferret out growth opportunities, areas of reinvention, new value drivers, and efficiencies to gain. Ultimately, these goals should lead you toward transformation efforts, which is a journey, not a destination, which is the purpose of this exercise. Continued transformation is the keystone to growth and innovation. There are three types of transformation: operational, core, and strategic.
First-hand Operational Transformation
Operational transformation solves old problems with new efforts, initiatives, or technologies. Core transformation is changing a business or department fundamentally from what it has been run in the past. Strategic transformation is changing the very essence of the department. This third transformation is the goal. Even the most successful organizations must continue to grow, adapt and change to outside, inside, and uncontrolled stimuli. Transformation is necessary for any business that seeks growth, but when placed within IT innovation, the results are particularly powerful.
In my case, my team faced the challenge of successfully transitioning a well-respected consulting firm to an equally well-respected technology organization centered around a powerful enterprise-level revenue integrity platform. This work included integrating an augmented intelligence framework into the company’s flagship revenue integrity platform is helping healthcare organizations overcome pandemic-associated revenue shortfalls.
This effort required an overwhelming and unapologetic focus on core and strategic transformation. For us, the transformation meant innovating the entire organization, not just a department — turning one business into another. The goal (accomplished) of innovation means providing healthcare organizations with a sound framework upon which to build a solid revenue integrity strategy to survive today’s fluid healthcare environment. The heart of this work came during one of the most challenging times, especially for healthcare – the onslaught of COVID-19. While so much failure and fatigue rocked the sector, our innovation efforts required the organization to focus on success and its potential of it.
It was a daunting undertaking. But leadership recognized that long-term success hinged on elevating the status of its revenue integrity software platform, MDaudit Enterprise, into the focus of the organization rather than it being a side part of the consulting business. In addition, we needed to embrace our identity as a technology company to achieve sustained growth, agile reinvention, new values, and efficiencies.
We combined the core and strategic transformation models to build agile processes. We implemented a dynamic work design that reconciled activity with intent, connected the human chains with triggers, structured problem-solving and creativity, managed challenges, and re-adjusted targets as needed, as I detailed in the previous question.
The transformation centered on integrating an augmented intelligence framework that included natural language processing and AI-driven business insights—critical elements for next-generation billing analytics, charge capture, coding, diagnosis, denials, and other proactive data-driven processes.
This foundation – no small change to our core business — enables our organization, through our IT offering, to streamline revenue integrity processes by searching and analyzing billions of rows of data from any source in seconds, where a more manual process would take weeks or months. But, again, none of these capabilities existed before the entire transformation of the organization.
The effort was so effective for our clients and us because we were committed to the effort, we knew where success lived, and failure was never an option, so it didn’t get any of our attention.
What Are the Benefits of Becoming an IT Innovator?
This isn’t the exact response to the question you’re asking, but I believe the following clarifies the benefits, in our case, of becoming an IT innovator. The success of our IT transformation for our organization and those we serve is seen in our rapid response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID turned out to be a significant financial drain on most health systems. For example, according to a study by Strata Decision Technology, as much as 97% of health systems lost an average of $1,200 per coronavirus case despite a 20% Medicare payment increase. Throughout the worst of the pandemic, health systems needed all revenue they could secure. At about the same time, Hayes became MDaudit through its IT and technology innovations, which are now proactively able to accurately bill and enjoy reimbursements in a still fluid environment. Perhaps the most obvious point in this lesson is that innovation occurred within our organization and helped countless health systems respond profitably during and after one of the most challenging times faced in healthcare.
By reimagining MDaudit, we aimed to help healthcare organizations overcome revenue shortfall by ensuring optimal compliant reimbursement and eliminating the drag on revenues created by denied and delayed claims. One of the benefits of becoming an innovator is to be able to bring more value to clients.
How Can IT Leaders Make a Case for Funding Innovation?
Change and transformation don’t need to be driven by failure and pressure but by success and achievement. Success and achievement are the cost of doing business. Failure, too, costs money but those are sunk costs. Whether the innovation is meant for a department, sector, or an entire business, “pouring funds” into innovation doesn’t have to be more than a transformation in how you do business.
Innovation equals transformation. Transformation begins with reflecting on the success that was, is, and can be. Transformation, like budget preparation and quarterly planning exercises, means setting new goals or establishing new goals and identifying growth opportunities, areas of reinvention, and system changes. Continued transformation is the pouring out of funds and effort, which are required in any enterprise, into those efforts that help you decide whether you can innovate.
Convincing leadership to invest in transformation still requires solving old problems. However, innovators do so with new efforts and ideas, initiatives, and technologies. Successful organizations must grow, adapt and change. Transformation (as an innovator or not) can go one of two ways: toward growth and life or stagnation and death. Ignoring this is more of the latter than it is of the prior. No matter what, innovation and transformation are choices. Once these choices are made, the funds will come. Without transformation, there’s no innovation, meaning the death of any organization. With that at stake, it’s easy to convince business leaders to pour funds into innovation.
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