Innovating in the chaos – What healthcare leaders need to know

Nicholas Webb

CEO, LeaderLogic, LLC

Innovating in the chaos – What healthcare leaders need to know

31 August 2022 | 10min

Quick Takes

  • The future of healthcare is far from simple, and the leaders who embrace change and chaotic innovation will get to shape it in the most positive way

  • Chaotic innovation encompasses three pillars and centers around both the employee and the patient being consumers of healthcare.

  • The leaders of today who embrace technology and chaotic innovation and develop the core competencies will be the ones who elevate the human experience.

The future of healthcare is being impacted by chaos, and that’s a very good thing. We are faced with the metaverse, anticipatory AI, mobile technologies, and so many other disruptors impacting the healthcare industry as a whole. What leaders need to understand is that the future is only good when we embrace chaotic innovation which is the simple idea of change. There has never been a more exciting time in healthcare for leaders than right now. It is the leaders who are open to change that will shape the future of healthcare in the most positive way.  Those who choose to stay the same will be left behind. 

We had the privilege of meeting with Nicholas Webb, one of the most in demand futurist speakers in the world.  His medical designs are used by hospitals and doctors around the world every day. Additionally, Nicholas is a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) through the internationally accredited Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) and a Six Sigma Black Belt Professional (SSBBP).

Listen as Nicholas Webb shares his insights about the future of healthcare, chaotic innovation in healthcare, healthcare technologies, and people powered healthcare.

Find the videos below where you can watch the entire video or pick and choose which questions are most relevant to you. Alternatively, you can read the full transcript below.

The future of healthcare

  1. In your opinion, what is the future of healthcare?
  2. How can we predict which leaders will achieve success in this new chaotic landscape?
  3. What is chaotic innovation?

Key takeaway – The future of healthcare is far from simple, and it is the leaders who embrace change and chaotic innovation who get to shape it in the most positive way. Organizational leaders are doing strategic cycle management every 6 -12 months at minimum to ensure that their strategy remains fresh and relevant. As we dive into the three pillars of chaotic innovation – hyperconsumerism, enabling technology and connection architecture, and new economic and value models – the roadmap to the future of healthcare become clearer. 

Read the full transcript here

The three pillars of chaotic innovation

Pillar 1 – Hyperconsumerism

Pillar 2 – Enabling Technology and connected architecture

Pillar 3 – New economic and value models

Key Takeaways: Chaotic innovation encompasses three pillars: hyperconsumerism, enabling technology and connection architecture, and new economic and value models. They center around both the employee and the patient being consumers of healthcareChaotic innovation mandates that organizations become customer experience and human experience experts as they develop the strategies that will meet their organizational goals.

Read the full transcript here

How healthcare leaders can prepare for the next 10 years

Key Takeaways: The future of healthcare depends on today’s leaders. Those who embrace technology and chaotic innovation will be the ones to develop the core competencies needed to shape the future of healthcare. Ensuring the right structure and roles within the organization is paramount to obtaining insights that will inform the human experience both at the patient and employee levels.

Read the full transcript here

In your opinion, what is the future of healthcare? 

Nicholas Webb: The future of healthcare is far from simple. 

It is the impact of the metaverse, anticipatory AI, connection architecture, hyper consumerization, new economic models, new clinical models, the decentralization of healthcare, the impact of prevention over intervention, mobile technologies, wearable technologies, and the list goes on and on, and that’s the problem. 

When we’re trying to understand healthcare, we tend to become overwhelmed because we as healthcare leaders don’t always know what we should be focusing on. What do we need to know to run great organizations and lead great teams?

Another way to look at that question might be, is the future of healthcare good or bad? Every leader wants to know the answer to that question, and the answer is yes. It’s great for leaders who understand the changes in a very practical way and who react to those changes. 

Whereas it’s bad for organizations and organizational leaders who are doubling down on a legacy philosophy about the future of healthcare. In fact, when things change in the healthcare marketplace, many leaders double down on bureaucracy and sameness, because when you think about the future of healthcare, there’s one word that describes it best, and that’s differentness. 

Nicholas Webb: We can’t fix differentness with sameness, but we do. We assume that we can address differentness, the future of healthcare, by doubling down on sameness, and another word for sameness is legacy. 

Now, there are many things we have within our legacy toolbox that are relevant and that we need to continue to improve upon and deploy. However, in a time of chaotic change, the speed, the size, and the nature of change itself has changed in a very big way. 

So, what do we do about these changes so the future of healthcare is great for organizational leaders? The best way to look at the future of healthcare is that it does require new skills, new philosophies, and new ideas in order to be relevant.

Although the healthcare industry is a subject of massive change, it is also necessary to be able to address delivering improved access, quality and patient safety. The future of healthcare is extremely positive for those organizations that are willing to lean into chaotic innovation.

How can we predict which leaders will achieve success in the new chaotic healthcare landscape?

Nicholas Webb: There are organizational winners and organizational losers. There are leaders that are going to win at this, and there are losers in this game, which is sad, because it’s understandable. We know what the future of healthcare is. We even have a good sense about the trajectory of change going out to at least the next five years, when emerging technologies or new economic models and value models will be adopted, and what the innovation pipelines look like in terms of when they will deploy and so on. 

So, the real winners are the ones that are committed to understanding the change, those leaders who are willing to understand the change and who are open to the idea that they themselves and their organization need to change, those are the winners.

The losers are those organizations and those leaders who are ignoring the change and saying, “Hey, look, we’ve done really good so far with this model that’s inside of our red brick building, and we anticipate that we’re going to do good if we just continue to do what we’ve done historically.” Of course, if the ecosystem wasn’t changing and we lived in a vacuum, that would be a pretty good philosophy and a pretty good business strategy. But it’s not. Change is happening in such a big way that leaders need to make chaotic innovation and future casting part of their organizational strategy.

In fact, the best organizational leaders are doing strategic cycle management every six months. In other words, they are:

  • dusting off their strategy
  • putting together their executive and core team
  • getting representation across their enterprise
  • getting external representation about emerging trends, and
  • making decisions about what they need to do to update their strategy very frequently. 

6 months or 12 months are the absolute longest we should wait to be able to update our overarching enterprise strategy and then, of course, the downstream derivative strategies from our overarching strategy. It’s just what we must do today because of the way in which things are changing.

What is chaotic innovation?

Nicholas Webb: When you think about the changes in healthcare, this is something you may want to keep in mind. Over the last 20 or 30 years, we had what I call symmetrical innovation. Back in the symmetrical innovation days, which I’ve been in healthcare for four decades, things weren’t moving so quickly, or so it seemed at the time. During symmetrical innovation, the size of innovations was small because we didn’t have this big toolbox of enabling technologies to draw upon. We didn’t have connection options. Early in the spectrum or the trajectory of change of innovation, we had symmetrical innovation that was very incremental.

Then over the last 10 years, you can’t pick up a journal or read an article without somebody talking about disruptive innovation. As my 16-year-old daughter would say, disruptive innovation was the good old days, it was so 2020. So how do you describe disruptive innovation? It’s the size and the speed of change.

We’ve transitioned into chaotic innovation in 2022 and beyond, and chaotic innovation has two interesting DNA components. One is its amorphous, meaning that the nature of what it is, is less clear than it used to be. Because of that, it requires more thoughtfulness and we have to pay closer attention to all of these different variables to make sure that we understand where it’s coming from. So, it’s amorphous in nature, it’s not in form always. 

Nicholas Webb: The biggest problem is it’s asymmetrical, meaning that it’s coming from nowhere. In fact, if you Google the term asymmetrical warfare, you’ll see examples like the 9/11 attacks, where it came from nowhere. Furthermore, these asymmetrical attacks to our healthcare industry, and I call them attacks because oftentimes these new, chaotic innovations are additive to the way in which we deliver on the promise of improved quality of patient care. So, it’s not like these are bad enterprises. These are organizations that want to deliver better experiences, better care, better safety, better alternatives, better clinical models, better, better, better.

Chaotic innovators are in the betterment business, and they’re using enabling technologies, connection architecture, and hyper consumerism to fuel their future. To understand chaotic innovation, we need to realize that we have to have future casting teams, and we must pay attention now more than ever, because these things are amorphous and they’re coming at us from nowhere. 

So, what does that mean from a practical perspective? It means that in the process of doing our shorter strategic life cycles, we must bring in new data sets about the impact of these new emerging technologies, about new models that are coming out, how we can respond to them, and we must be better innovators. We must speed up our innovation activities. Most organizations today have centers for innovations. Unfortunately, oftentimes these centers are operating on the symmetrical innovation model from 20 years ago. A few better ones are working on a disruptive model, but very few are really working from a chaotic innovation model, and that is what’s required to make this work.

What are the three pillars of chaotic innovation?

Pillar 1 – Hyperconsumerism 

Nicholas Webb: The first pillar is hyperconsumerism, which encompasses patients, employees and partners, and other stakeholders because that is everyone we serve, from our stakeholders to our employees to our customers have been hyperconsumerized. Hyper consumerism speaks to the fact that consumers are demanding friction freedom, transparency, personalization and conspicuous value. They have unlimited options and they are leveraging their options to demand significant improvements in value, quality and human experience.

What that means is they have good options, and if we aren’t their best option, then our organization and our department, our enterprise is at great risk. We must make sure that we realize that today there are unemployed people and there are talented people, but there are no unemployed talented people.

Many healthcare clinics in the United States today are operating at 80% staffing level. They will never be able to attract and keep the best talent unless they look at their internal stakeholder as a consumer. When we understand hyperconsumerism, we realize that we also can’t massively improve our Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores at the hospital and clinic level unless we realize that a good patient experience can only be delivered by happy employees. 

When you look at the competitive models that are happening today, hospitals and clinics will not be competing against the clinic down the street. They’ll be competing with CVS, with Walmart, with all kinds of new, interesting clinical models that are coming from technology companies that are creating beautiful, elegant, thoughtful experiences to customers or patients in a way that impacts their desire to go to that clinical option.

The Human Experience Strategy

Nicholas Webb: We need to be the best option for employees and we need to be the best option for patients. The only way you do that is through a thoughtful Human Experience (HX) strategy, that addresses consumerism and employees at the same time. 

Consumerism is important to understand because the baseline level of patient expectation, consumer expectation, is always rising. Every year, consumers expect more value and less friction, and yet we have the most friction-laden industry of any industry in the world. Healthcare is poorly thought out in general in terms of the way in which it delivers human experiences.

If we can commit to better human experiences, we can increase efficiencies, significantly improve our patient satisfaction, and our HCAHPS scores. We can significantly improve the way in which we gain insights on ways to be able to deliver better clinical value, and even safe and efficacious clinical care. 

Everything that we want to do from the patient care perspective lives within consumerism – understanding our consumers better so that we can deliver thoughtful and unique innovations that go above their baseline level of expectation. 

This pilar is one of the secret tools that the best organizations in healthcare are using to drive sustainable growth, profitability, improved presenteeism, improved stakeholder attraction and retention.

Going beyond the patient experience

Nicholas Webb: We must go beyond this concept of Patient Experience (PX). We tend to try to improve on something that’s bad, rather than destroying what we have done historically and creating beautiful new clinical models. Now, this doesn’t just apply to hospitals and clinics. It applies to medical device companies, insurance companies, life science organizations, pharmaceuticals and anybody that lives within the healthcare ecosystem. We all need to be far more thoughtful and more contemporaneous in the nature of the types of things designed to create something that is way above what we have done historically. Chaotic innovation mandates it.

Chaotic innovation mandates that we become customer experience and human experience experts, and it mandates that we develop formal strategies around these areas if we want to meet our organizational goals. The good news is you can increase efficiencies, reduce costs, improve employee presenteeism, increase your returns on human capital, attract great talent, and most importantly, you can serve that core beautiful, thoughtful mission of delivering safe and quality care to patients. That’s why we’re all in this in the first place.

The disconnect between customers and leaders when evaluating customer experience and how it relates to hyperconsumerism

Nicholas Webb: The reason I’m going into so much detail on the first pillar of hyperconsumerism is because it is ignored by most organizations. In fact, there was a study that was done by Bain Corporation1 that interviewed over 300 executives, and they asked them a very simple question: “Do you deliver great experiences?” Almost 80% of them said, “Absolutely, our experiences that we deliver to our consumers are amazing”? Then they decided, “Well, wow, that’s impressive. Let’s see what your customers have to say about this.” So, they interviewed the customers of those companies and only 7% agreed with the proclamation of the CEO that they delivered exceptional customer experience.

The problem? Delusion. We tend to be delusional about the way in which we’re delivering care, because oftentimes we aren’t in the front lines to where we’re seeing how patient-facing stakeholders are serving those patients. Sadly, we’re oftentimes not serving that caregiver. We have people that show up every day to serve our big mission of delivering safe and efficacious quality care in an equitable and fair way, and we forget the burdens and the challenges that they have, and the stress and burnout today for patient-facing stakeholders, or healthcare stakeholders in general, which is at an all-time high. When we think about this first pillar of consumerism, we need to look at both our employees and our patients as a consumer. Maybe even use some bigger language when we’re describing those patients, like consumer.

Pillar 2 – Enabling technology and connection architecture

Nicholas Webb: The second pillar is enabling technology and connection architecture. One of the things I’ve learned from operating my own AI lab and serving as the chief innovation officer for a major medical company is that at the end of the day, if something can be connected in healthcare, it can be connected, it will be connected, and when it’s connected, it will deliver far more value to healthcare. So, connection architecture is the connection of all things, the continuous connection and monitoring of patients. We will see the extinction of wrist-based, watch-type wearable devices to new in-ear devices that will monitor blood pressure. It’ll monitor EEG data, core body temperature, movement. It will listen to the voice using voice AI to determine mood state, and even lucidity. We have such incredible new technologies coming out. The real major wearable technology will be in-ear technologies, not wearable technologies.

Not only, can we get good data inside the ear, but we can have two-way full duplex dialogue with a patient if it’s in their ear. We can help the patient throughout the day make better choices or let them know gently by mentioning their ear conditions to give them real time feedback. They will be able to control all these functions and be diagnosed 24 hours a day. Ultimately, through anticipatory healthcare using AI and multiple continuous monitoring, we’ll be able to dispatch patients to care based on what the black box is seeing through wearable devices.

Nicholas Webb: For some people they see this as Orwellian, but the truth of the matter is that it’s going to save a lot of lives. In five to eight years, if you want health insurance, you may have to agree to being monitored, much like teenagers that want car insurance must have their cars monitored using the accelerometer in their cell phone, or even in some cases, a plugin device to monitor their speed and behavior. We will absolutely use in-ear technologies and continuous wearable technologies to be able to reduce healthcare cost and improve the way in which we manage chronic disease and other disease processes. It’s inevitable.

There are many other exciting new technologies that are going to make everyone’s life better. As a leader, CEO, or manager, if you don’t understand these technologies, it’s impossible for you to champion them. Some of the top CEOs in the world have made a commitment to understanding these trends and applying actionable strategies to make certain that their strategy squares up with the future of healthcare.

Pillar 3 – new economic and value models

Nicholas Webb: The last pillar of chaotic change is new economic and value models. We’re going to change the transference of wealth. Where money is made and where money is going, is going to become far more of a retail model than our current institutional approach of healthcare. We’re going to see patients doing some practical things and making practical decisions to circumvent hospitals and clinics because the experience is more relevant and more valuable. 

So those are the three big pillars of chaotic change –  hyperconsumerization, connection architecture and emerging technologies, and lastly, new economic models and new patient value models.

Can you summarize 3-5 key takeaways you would give to healthcare leaders to prepare for the near future (next 10 years)?

Nicholas Webb: The key takeaways I would give healthcare leaders to prepare for the near future (next 10 years) would be as follows:

1 The real key is that leaders today need to develop a strong core competency in these chaotic components. How much do we really know about beyond the patient experience design? It is imperative to look at patients as consumers and we need to build competencies around consumer experience design. Does that live currently within your organization? If not, how do we fill this critical gap emergently?
2 When it comes to human experience design, do we have an optimized strategy in HR, workforce development, and across the organization to make certain that we are building a brand around our mission? Where we’re building personal growth strategies for our employees and serving our patients through this new concept of HX design and through happiness as a strategy. Happiness as a strategy is powerful. It works. The best organizations in healthcare will make happiness and consumer happiness a core competency as leaders.
3 All leaders will get training and sharpen their skills. They’ll have executive committee teams around these topics to make sure they’re constantly improving skills and ensuring that they’re on track with developing the right stuff. 
4 We are in a time of rapid technological advancement. Yet when I interview many CEOs, I’m surprised to find out how unaware they are of the impact of emerging technologies. What does metaverse mean to healthcare? What is the impact of anticipatory healthcare? What will happen in terms of this new movement towards anticipation and prevention over gratuitous intervention?  In other words, what are the trends in technology connection architecture that we need to know as leaders and how do we get those insights on a regular basis by developing a core future casting team? 
5 Bring in external technologists, bring in AI experts, bring in these technological experts to make sure that you understand these principles and apply them in a practical manner. I recommend leaders develop those core teams because they are not a waste of time. I’m not a big team person because I don’t like taking important people away from their work, but I believe that having future casted teams where you bring in people that have orthogonal thinking, in other words, they don’t see the world in the same way you see it. 
6 I also strongly recommend to leaders of health systems and hospitals that you absolutely make sure and support your chief information officer by giving them the budgets and the resources they need. Some people are now suggesting that hospitals and clinics are technology organizations that happen to deliver efficacious care. That may be true. In other words, our core competency as hospitals and clinics or anybody in healthcare is that of the technology substrate.
7 Lastly, everybody is going to get displaced in healthcare by a new model that is a new economic model, a new clinical model or a new value model. Everybody is going to get disrupted. The good news is that we can be a participant of these disruptions. We don’t need to be displaced. We can leverage new economic models, new value models, new approaches in clinical delivery in a way that makes us contemporaneous and relevant. So if we know what those are, if we know what the quiver looks like, the toolbox, then I believe that we can build out some solutions as good as anybody else.

When we really think about the future of healthcare, it’s extremely exciting. I think most of the leaders that are reading this will agree that we have never had a better time to be able to leverage great technologies and new solutions that will positively impact patients and our stakeholders. 

I believe it’s a beautiful time for us to rise to the occasion of chaotic innovation and really make a difference in the way in which we deliver care.

Nicholas Webb is a number one best-selling author and is one of the most popular Innovation, Healthcare, Future-trends, and Customer Experience Speakers in the world. Nick is the CEO of LeaderLogic, LLC, a Management Consulting Firm that provides consulting services to the top brands in the world. Nick works shoulder-to-shoulder with boards of directors of multibillion-dollar companies to assist them in building future-ready organizations. Nick began his career as a successful technologist creating award-winning innovations in healthcare, consumer, and industrial technologies. He has been awarded over 40 Patents by the U.S. Patent Office for various landmark technologies. Nick is also a prolific best-selling author that has been published by many prestigious publishers. Nick is the author of What Customers Crave, The Innovation Mandate, What Customers Hate, Happy Work, and his number one bestselling book, The Healthcare Mandate. Nick has served as a Chief Innovation Officer and an Adjunct Professor at a top medical school. Nicholas was awarded his Doctorate of Humane Letters (hon.) for his contributions in healthcare. Additionally, One of Nick’s goals was to create a healthcare documentary and his film titled, “The Healthcare Cure” was released in 2021 and recently won the Sedona International Film Festival’s “Audience Choice Award”, Most Impactful Film.

References

  1. Allen, J.et al. (2005). Bain & Company. Report Avaliable from https://media.bain.com/bainweb/PDFs/cms/hotTopics/closingdeliverygap.pdf [Accessed August 2022]