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At the Home Care Innovation Forum, VNS Health President and CEO Dan Savitt shared his vision for creating authentic innovation within home health care organizations. As the leader of the largest non-profit home- and community-based care provider in the U.S., it makes sense. VNS Health has been an innovator in the at-home care ecosystem for over 130 years.

Savitt proposed a paradigm shift in how innovation is viewed within home health care organizations. He argued that focusing on isolated "innovation projects" isn't enough. Instead, providers should be building organizations that constantly innovate, where creativity and problem-solving are woven into the fabric of a company’s culture.

Sound daunting? Savitt outlined a clear path forward. It all starts with a fundamental shift in perspective. Instead of viewing innovation as a response to external pressures, companies should see it as a core value – a way of life for the organization.

A key aspect of Savitt's talk was demystifying the concept of what innovation is. He emphasized that true innovation should not be complex, expensive, radical, or top-down. It should be solution-oriented, data-driven, patient-centric, and collaborative. 

"Problems need to be identified through data, and of course, data needs to be used to measure the results of the solutions you come up with," he said.

Savitt outlined 5 crucial elements to foster a culture of innovation:

  1. Values Alignment: Ensure that organizational values reflect a culture of innovation. At VNS Health, one of their core values is agility, emphasizing the necessity to adapt to change and pivot when necessary.
  2. Performance Management: Align the entire performance management system – including compensation – around innovation goals. "People will do what you pay them to do," Savitt noted.
  3. Communication and Collaboration: Break down silos and hierarchies. "I seek out hierarchies and then seek to destroy them," he said, stressing the importance of a collaborative and communicative organizational structure.
  4. Continuous Learning: Foster a growth mindset where risk-taking and learning from failures are encouraged. "We have to learn from everything we do and share those learnings with others," Savitt said. “That’s how we grow.”
  5. Curating a Risk-Taking Environment: Create a culture where calculated risks are rewarded, not punished. "Your organization has to have an environment where employees can feel like they can take risks and they won’t lose their job," he said.

Savitt emphasized that innovation should be purpose-driven and collaborative, not just a top-down directive. He also stressed the importance of a ‘living’ strategy that guides efforts, using the acronym FACTS (Focus, Align, Commit, Track, Stretch) to keep strategy at the forefront of all initiatives.

He cited research-based data on the benefits of fostering an innovative company culture, which includes improved clinical outcomes and lower readmission rates, a better employee experience, and higher financial performance – with up to 3X better top and bottom-line results.

Savitt cautioned against a "shotgun approach", where unaligned initiatives drain organizational energy. He stressed the importance of tying innovation to strategy, collaborating across the organization, and learning from both successes and failures.

Go more in-depth into Savitt's insights by watching the full presentation below:

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This article was written by AI and edited by a member of the influence group team.

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