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Decentralizing Innovation in Healthcare


To encourage employees to not only identify but follow through on creative ideas for improving customer relationships, Southcentral Foundation, Anchorage, Alaska, rolled out a decentralized approach to innovation. One component is the organization’s operational principles, which is a set of 13 statements that spell out the word “relationships.” “Does it foster customer-owner relationships? Is there an emphasis on wellness? Is it location friendly? [We go] all the way down the list [of principles],” said Katherine Gottlieb, DHS, president and CEO, Southcentral Foundation, Anchorage, Alaska.

Relationships between the customer-owner, family, and provider must be fostered and supported

Emphasis on wellness of the whole person, family and community, including physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness

Locations that are convenient for the customer-owner and create minimal stops for the customer-owner

Access is optimized and waiting times are limited

Together with the customer-owner as an active partner

Intentional whole system design to maximize coordination and minimize duplication

Outcome and process measures to continuously evaluate and improve

Not complicated but simple and easy to use

Services are financially sustainable and viable

Hub of the system is the family

Interests of the customer-owner drive the system to determine what we do and how we do it

Population-based systems and services

Services and systems build on the strengths of Alaska Native cultures

Editor’s note: Gottlieb spoke on this topic at the 2019 Congress on Healthcare Leadership Masters Series Session “Quality and Process Improvement,” which also featured Adventist Health Circle President and CEO Kathryn Raethel, FACHE. (Raethel describes her hospital’s Baldrige journey in the May/June 2018 issue—Page 56—of Healthcare Executive.)