The second presenter at the World Innovation Forum was Michael Howe, former CEO of MinuteClinic. The fundamental thrust of Mr. Howes presentation was that innovating the care for health issues that “ruin your weekend” is both systematic but faced some serious headwinds.
Mr. Howe’s formula for innovation is PACE
- Acceptability by end users
- Culture of accountability
- External influences encountered
Several things about Mr. Howe’s example of MinuteClinic’s development struck me, but the most important one was the attention paid to stakeholders in the MinuteClinic innovation. Not only was the MinuteClinic development team attentive of the users’ motivations for using the service, but they were attentive of the staff’s motivations as well. This may be a “duh” moment: after all, MinuteClinic is a service offering and people ARE a very important ingredient in the “secret sauce,” it is far to often overlooked.
As I review my notes, I find that the world “attentive” is very appropriate for the overall MinuteClinic story. MinuteClinic was carefully crafted in a systematic way. Following the “purpose” thread in PACE, the team understood operational considerations than needed to be addressed to achieve the purpose.
When I think about how the team approached “acceptability” it reminded me of using a microscope in biology class. The team first used a low power lens to understand the landscape of users. Once they picked the segment they wanted to provide services for, they used a high power lens to focus on the needs of only those users. What Mr. Howe left unsaid was how many segmentation strategies they applied before settling on a generational model.
Mr. Howe went on to describe MinuteClinics culture of accountability where any employee can readily provide feedback directly to him through a novel anonymous email system. He said that often he knew about IT outages from employees before the IT department did. Employees holding each other accountable for product delivery naturally creates lean and efficient processes.
The E in PACE goes to the external influencers which created the headwind mentioned in the title of this post. State regulations in some cases would not allow for the MinuteClinic business model. Doctors, with their “guild” mentality as Mr. Howe described it, often were distrustful of the MinuteClinic model of nurse practitioner care delivery. MinuteClinic used a structured approach to increase quality of care and to ease concerns by following the guidelines of several leading medical associations such as the American Academy of Family Physicians and became the first and only retail health care provider to receive joint accreditation. The net result was an overall adherence rate of 99.15% – unheard of in the medical industry.
The takeaway is that innovation is best approached, developed, and managed in a systematic way. Starting broad, understanding the total landscape, and then focusing on specific opportunities with specific time horizons yield and understanding of stakeholders’ needs and how to meet them. And, ultimately, that is what innovation is all about: meeting stakeholders’ needs.