Culture of Innovation Fosters Adaptability


When mobilizing a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Change Healthcare leadership started by focusing on our team members. Given the data and intel we had regarding COVID-19’s spread, our top priority was to ensure the physical safety well-being and health of our employees to support their mental well-being. 

We quickly established a crisis response team, which still exists today. It’s a cross-functional, agile team whose goals is to get information and feedback, uncover issues and make rapid decisions. The formation of this group was put in place because it aligns perfectly with our culture and values that are rooted in agility and resiliency. 

We engaged our own infectious disease and psychiatrist doctors, who continue to guide all of our decision-making when it comes to strict protocols on-site, including mandatory face coverings, to align with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Within two weeks, we got all employees home, the majority of whom are frontline workers and added a considerable number of tools to support our remote workforce. Soon thereafter, we put in place pay and PTO practices designed to ensure employee safety and business continuity. 

We also added a Teledoc benefit for all employees, whether they were on our benefits or not. We then worked quickly to implement a robust digital infrastructure to meet the needs of our customers and partners, again keeping our employees safe and embracing a virtual work force in record time 

Ultimately, Change Healthcare’s ability to adapt quickly and ensure business continuity amid such an unprecedented global pandemic is in large part thanks to our culture of innovation. 

An important aspect about organizational culture is it can’t just change immediately because of a pandemic. For example, during the pandemic because we had a strong culture in place, we implemented weekly leadership and all employee calls, videos and communications, and stood up a real-time information site. Our employees had a straight line of communication with our leadership that enabled us to make real-time decisions. As a result of our efforts, nearly 90% of our employees trust and appreciate our communications efforts.

Culture is built on values, and Change Healthcare has had values in place long before COVID-19 hit—including being agile, championing innovation and including all—that prepared us to act quickly, change course immediately when needed, and keep our team informed and aligned. 

If an organization doesn’t have a culture that emphasizes transparency, innovation, effective goal setting and agility, it’s not going to change overnight. I’ve heard from many CEOs who say their organizations are making decisions so much more quickly than usual out of necessity, and they would like to bottle that practice and sustain it going forward. The truth is any organization can do anything for a short period of time. To make changes that last requires a culture that supports those changes, and that could mean transforming fundamental operating procedures in the long haul.

One trend that has accelerated this year is the focus on people’s mental health and well-being. Though we always strive to take care of our team members, the added stress of the pandemic, racial injustices and the economic downturn means we need to do things differently. For instance, our upcoming annual conference will feature two world-renown experts who will speak on resilience and mental health, respectively. 

We’re also looking for more ways to support our increasingly distributed, virtual workforce and their families. When we take good care of our team members, they can take good care of our partners and customers in healthcare. 

Neil de Crescenzo is president/CEO, Change Healthcare, Nashville, Tenn., and an ACHE Member. Change Healthcare is an ACHE Premier Corporate Partner. Learn more about Change Healthcare, and access free resources, here