Health system to implement employee idea

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From left, Caledonia Health Center Office Team Lead Cassie Baker and Office Manager Amy DeGood. Courtesy University of Michigan Health-West

University of Michigan Health-West named the winner of its first “Shark Tank”-style event to encourage employee innovation and improve patient care.

The health system’s inaugural Innovation Challenge received 27 submissions after inviting employees to offer their best ideas to better serve patients. Following the submission period, five finalists were chosen to present their proposals during the challenge’s “Big Pitch” phase. Top ideas were pitched to a panel of internal judges in January, and a winner was chosen for funding and implementation.

The winning proposal, called “The Nuance of Refills,” developed a process for simplifying the way patients phone in requests for prescription refills. Developed by members of Caledonia Health Center’s office leadership team Cassie Baker and Amy DeGood, the idea leverages the health system’s AI patient documentation to overcome delays in prescription approvals.

According to the health system, the innovation will reduce the burden of tracking down patients to ask clarifying questions regarding their prescription refills and will benefit patients and short-staffed medical teams.

UMH-West is providing $66,000 to implement the idea over the next six months. The second-place finalist, a team from the system’s Community Health Center, will receive $9,000 to purchase 10 at-home monitoring kits to help vulnerable patients manage hypertension.

“Innovation has always been part of our identity. It also is a core value we share with University of Michigan Health,” said Dr. Rakesh Pai, president and chief populations health officer, University of Michigan Health Partners. “As we go about living our values, this means we listen to our employees and the brilliant ideas inspired by their daily work.”

Other finalist ideas were:

  • Developing videos to explain procedures inclusively so all patients can follow along at their own pace on handheld tablets
  • Expanding the use of UMH-West’s mobile unit to provide care access to patients with transportation limitations
  • Establishing an apprenticeship program for administrative roles, helping the emerging talent of West Michigan explore careers in health care

“These proposals address not only our value of innovation, but all the values — caring, inclusion, integrity and teamwork — that are part of our legacy and shared purpose with University of Michigan Health. … You can see from the proposals how one innovation leads to another. That’s our culture,” Pai said. “We listen to our employees because we value the creative, caring thinking they bring to work every day.”

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