Innovation Doesn't Always Have to Involve the Latest Technology, Says MD Anderson Exec - MedCity News - Latest Global News

Innovation Doesn’t Always Have to Involve the Latest Technology, Says MD Anderson Exec – MedCity News

The term “innovation” means something different to each health system because each health system has different priorities and goals, said Dan Shoenthal, chief innovation officer at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

He pointed this out during an interview on Tuesday at the Reuters Digital Health conference in San Diego.

At MD Anderson, the innovation team is focused on improving patients’ and physicians’ daily experiences in receiving and delivering care, Shoenthal said. Sometimes this work involves introducing new technologies, but there are also many worthwhile innovation initiatives that do not involve advanced technologies, he noted.

MD Anderson’s innovation team is always looking for simple changes it can make to ensure the hospital’s facilities and providers embody the human touch needed to care for people diagnosed with cancer, Shoenthal explained.

For example, the team came up with the idea of ​​training MD Anderson employees to become human navigators. This means that rather than sitting behind a desk and waiting for visitors to ask for help, staff are trained to approach people and ask them if they need help navigating the hospital grounds.

“It’s about actually having a human interaction with the person to see what they might need. “Your answer might be, ‘I don’t need anything – I know where I’m going and I’m perfectly fine.’ But for other patients, navigating a new building could be overwhelming, especially if they have cancer,” Shoenthal said.

Orientation apps can be great for some patients, but there will always be people who prefer the help of a human navigator, he added. He also noted that this was particularly true in a cancer hospital where many patients are elderly.

In recent years, Shoenthal and his team have also recognized how frustrating it can be for patients to wait to hear back from the hospital after their tests and appointments. To address this issue, they developed an app that helps patients quickly check their referral status and visualize how they are progressing in their care journey.

“If there are pizza companies that have trackers that show when the pizza is coming, why can’t we have a tool that tells patients something much more important?” asked Schuhnthal.

Implementing the referral status tracker hasn’t been a drastic change – but sometimes these simple additions can be very powerful in making patients feel cared for, he explained.

“To do the truly disruptive things, you need a foundation to stand on. Sometimes you need to do these basic things – for example, change the way your staff interacts with patients, or create some basic apps that give basic notifications about where patients are in the journey. Once you have that foundation, you can do cooler things like answer questions that patients have along their journey,” Shoenthal explained.

Photo: phototechno, Getty Images

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