Disruptive Innovation in Healthcare Talent Management in 2020 and Beyond

Senior Director of Marketing

The advent of COVID-19 reminded us that we can’t afford to be complacent. The world is evolving all around us, and if we want our organizations to thrive, we have to be willing and ready to embrace disruption and innovation regularly.

That’s exactly what Thomas Vernon, Vice President of Talent and Experience, and his team at Houston Methodist did. The health system’s Center for Innovation brings stakeholders together from across the organization to solve organizational problems with technology. “It started by bringing people together who were using digital innovation,” Vernon says. “We're very forward-thinking, we have a very clear strategy and we have a lot of people interested, and it's been really powerful for us.”

Here’s how to harness the power of disruptive innovation to bring your healthcare system’s talent management to the cutting edge.

Integrate Technology Into Operations

The human resources department at Houston Methodist was an early adopter of technology, and the HR tech stack supported overall business operations, earning HR a “seat at the table,” Vernon says. “We're at the table because we understand operations and we make decisions based on how we can support the operations.” The lesson: Leverage your HR technology to support processes across the business. 

Being early adopters allowed Vernon and his HR team to quickly pivot to remote orientations across locations during the pandemic-related shutdown. They used digital components like chatbots and breakout sessions to maintain new-hire engagement. Their remote orientation program was so well-received that they plan to continue it even after the dangers presented by COVID-19 have passed.

Engage Organizational Innovators

HR can’t innovate in a silo: Your team needs to network and connect with innovators across the health system. The Houston Methodist Innovation Center began as a think tank consisting of people devoted to digital innovation across the organization. The group identified problems and used the full power of the organization’s tech stack to solve them quickly and efficiently.

“COVID forced us to work together collaboratively, to think differently and to move quickly,” Vernon says. “When you look from an innovation standpoint, that’s the perfect recipe.” Since they were primed to work alongside technology, the organization was able to adopt automated temperature checks at entry points with ease. This freed up staff for higher-touch job duties. 

Succeed or Fail Fast, But Learn Faster

Rapidly experimenting with talent management processes will support innovation now and in the future. As part of the innovative process, Vernon and his team rapidly escalated ideas to the trial stage. The idea wasn’t always successful, but they always learned something from trying it.

COVID-19 presented several staffing challenges, including pivoting to remote work and staffing intensive care units full of acute-care patients. Houston Methodist experimented with several staffing models. One of the most popular models was a corporate labor pool, where corporate employees supported staff on the hospital floor. “Our entire corporate workforce mobilized to support our hospitals,” Vernon says. The hospital staff appreciated the additional support, and the corporate employees loved giving back to front-line workers.

Candidates, employees and patients are more forgiving when innovations don’t work out because they understand the pace of change we’re working in. COVID-19’s disruption creates the opportunity to revolutionize your talent management processes. Whether it’s integrating technology, gathering input from stakeholders or implementing new ideas, your decisions affect the organization. Use your influence to make a difference.

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