Lip service is often given to the idea of fostering community within the healthcare industry to improve patient outcomes, but rarely is it acted upon in significant ways. As a long-term client of OptimizeRx before I joined the team as Senior Vice President and Principal, I was able to observe where the company strived for this community building and where it fell short. When I participated in the first annual #Innovate4Outcomes event I had only been with the company for roughly one month. It is still an event, six months later, that stands out as one that broke the mold for the better in fostering community without self-promotion.
As a relatively new employee, only beginning to see OptimizeRx from the inside out, rather than the outside in as I had for ten years as a client, it was striking to me that the company acted only as a moderator for the #Innovate4Outcomes event. There was no touting of one technology y as the solution to problem x, and there were no sales pitches. The absence of these solutions, combined with an excellent guest list, allowed questions prompts to truly become working sessions with honest discussion and feedback. While these organic conversations focused on problem-solving did leave a remarkable impression on me as an individual, I want to focus on how they can help healthcare and patient outcomes as a whole.
Rebecca Whitney, Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations at OptimizeRx acted as support for our Innovate session, and something she says often in our offices stuck with me: “we must create raving fans”. This event did that on a much wider scope than I imagined any healthcare event could; it made me a raving fan of the format, of the solutions we brainstormed, and of colleagues, I otherwise would not have had a chance to meet.
Did removing a sales pitch lead to deeper, different, or better solutions?
The short answer is yes, but just as Rome wasn’t built in a day; we cannot innovate healthcare in one event. Immediate results came out of this event in the form of different solutions based on different perspectives. My Innovate group, for example, consisted of many nurses, and two registered nurses, as well as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and pharma representatives.
"The nurses did most of the speaking, and what the rest of us realized was a critical missing link in our consideration to solutions was empathy."
As solutions-based technicians, salespeople, and executives, the rest of us in the group tend to launch into the thought process of “we need to use this technology, or this email drip campaign, or this chatbot to solve problem x on a function level.” Nurses, on the other hand, consider empathy first.
A great real-world example of this was a story one of our group nurses told about her time in hospice work, and how many times she sat with patients who understood that they were in hospice, but didn’t understand quite yet that they were dying. I know I’m here, but I’m not really going to die is not a conversation that can be faced down with an email, or a chatbot, or an automated text, but providing health care professionals with these tools to improve their workflow can give them more time to provide that empathy.
When I asked Rebecca Whitney her thoughts on these outcomes, she responded simply:
“Everything we do at OptimizeRx is with the goal of bettering patient outcomes. We cannot do that without a deep, real-world, real-time understanding of what patient needs are. This event, and our panel specifically, gave us exactly that. We need to do this event every year and we need to ensure that we are listening carefully to every nurse, physician, pharma tech, and entrepreneur that crosses our digital and physical path to understand their points of view and ideas for improvement. I loved this event, and I want to see it continue to develop into something where the greatest minds across our industry look forward to collaborating again and again.”
How can these ideas carry beyond an event into real-world practice?
The brilliance behind #Innovate4Outcomes was that it put people who once would have passed each other up in a vendor hall together, not only in the same room but on the same team. What was once a quick “I’m not interested” or “we don’t overlap” by the end of our breakout sessions became a “how can we find a way to work together?” Industry-wise, creating these connections creates a natural opportunity for innovation by continually bringing those different perspectives together where once, they never would have intersected. There was one participant at the Innovate event whose booth I had passed up at a prior conference because I had no ideas on how we could collaborate. After speaking with him at #Innovate4Outcomes, we both realized that we could collaborate quite a bit because we aren’t in the same vertical. Were it not for the event, we never would have made that discovery.
By fostering an environment of communication and community that is intersectional, we can find overlap and opportunities to better serve our clients and ultimately, their patients. The only way to continue this trajectory of innovation is to meet without a sales agenda, sit at the table with the folks we don’t yet know and get down to the business of communication. Rebecca Whitney and I, personally, cannot wait for #Innovate4Outcomes 2021, the new health innovators it will introduce into our circle, and the ideas they will bring with them for bettering patient outcomes as a cohesive network across our industry.