The Business of Innovation at GuideWell

Renee Finley, VP, Enterprise Innovation, GuideWell joins us to talk about the business objectives behind GuideWell’s commitment to disruptive thinking and imagination.

You hear the word “innovation” thrown around a lot in the corporate world. How is innovation more than just a buzzword at GuideWell?

The easy answer is that we’re so committed to innovation that three years ago we made it our vision: To become a leading innovator enabling healthy communities. Every single one of us is working toward actualizing this very lofty goal, so innovation has to extend beyond one person and one team – it has to belong to all of us and be part of our culture.

We’ve really been tested the last few years with the passage of the Affordable Care Act and all of the implications that has had on health and healthcare. And now, as the health care ecosystem continues to change, real innovation is needed to find meaningful solutions to a new set of business problems.

If “necessity is the mother of innovation” what is it that is driving your team to innovate? What are those “business problems” you are trying to solve?

Right now, our main focus is on figuring out how you engage consumers – people like you and me – in managing their health. Most people know what they “should do” when it comes to diet, exercise, preventative doctor’s visits, adhering to their doctor’s advice…but there are a lot of people out there who don’t do what’s best for their health. Why is that? Is it because of cost? Because they live in a rural environment and simply don’t have access? We don’t think that people are consciously choosing to be unhealthy, but we recognize that somewhere along the decision-making path the trail is not so well marked and people are losing their way. We are working on understanding the complexities of this problem and what we can do to help. People want to be healthy and we want to make it easier. So, we are focused on driving the development of meaningful solutions that engage individuals in the management of their own health eco-system.

How would you describe your approach to business innovation?

Our innovation methodology is pretty distinctive. It allows us to ideate all the way through to operationalizing new programs and services. At the heart of our process, we have three “levers” we pull to accelerate innovation.

First, there’s Research and Development. We spend significant time and energy on internal R&D. Right now we have a number of pilots in the works – more than we’ve ever had in the history of our organization. They run the gamut – consumer-focused, employer-focused, pilots aimed at helping gain efficiencies within the healthcare delivery system. We are very unique in that the GuideWell family of companies covers the entire healthcare system – for our pilots, in particular, this means we can draw from significant expertise and experience in clinical healthcare, healthcare financing, data analytics, market research, business development, retail marketing, and broad-scale systems implementation.

Of course, we recognize that there’s a lot we don’t know, so the other two innovation levers are externally-focused and require us engaging other thought-leaders out in other parts of the industry. Lever #2 focuses on the entrepreneurial community and on building partnerships with the best and the brightest in the entrepreneurial world. Connecting with these minds and their ideas allows us to tap into innovation on the fringe of our core areas of business and expand our own internal research and development efforts well past our capabilities.

Similarly, as Lever #3, we look to partner with industry leaders who are focused on solving the same challenges that we are trying to solve. This could mean a leading technology company or a retailer or other health ecosystem partners. We don’t limit ourselves to the healthcare industry as it’s been traditionally defined. We are committed to developing truly holistic solutions that help our individuals become and remain healthier and that means opening ourselves up to collaborating across industries and mindsets.

So, how will you know if you were successful?

We’ll have transformed health – not just healthcare, but health itself. People will be engaged, they’ll have access to what they need when they need it, it will be less expensive when they get it, and it will lead to better outcomes.

Stay tuned to this blog for additional information on the GuideWell innovation programs and pilots that Renee Finley references above.

Are you interested in discussing our Innovation approach and program further and/or do you have partnership opportunities we should consider? Connect with us @_GuideWell or on LinkedIn.