Change Healthcare provides solutions to connect payers, providers and patients across the healthcare system. Here, Change Healthcare President/CEO Neil de Crescenzo discuss the challenges they’ve faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how they’ve continued to support healthcare organizations and innovate.
Q: What have been the challenges of leading a company during the pandemic and where are the opportunities to innovate and support mission-critical work being done to fight the pandemic? What is being done to address the financial strain on health systems?
A: As far as challenges go, the pandemic has shined a light for payers and providers on areas where they may have underestimated the need to invest in technology. Many partners and customers needed to quickly address regulatory issues surrounding remote work and handle dynamic changes in patient or member access. Shifting to a remote work environment requires employees to deal appropriately with personal health information while remaining effective and productive. It seems mundane, but there are a lot of mechanics and issues that health technology companies must help our clients navigate with a more distributed, virtual workforce.
Regarding the financial strain health systems are dealing with, we work hard to tailor our services to the needs of each organization, enabling them to improve the operational and financial performance so they can remain focused on improving access, outcomes and affordability for consumers. Some institutions have more financial stability than others, and some are changing their business models to respond to the pandemic, so needs vary widely across the industry. At Change Healthcare, we are in a unique position at the center of the healthcare ecosystem—connecting payers, providers and consumers. We help clients by providing solutions that optimize value-based care models, manage risk, reduce the costs of back office operations, and better engage with patients to improve patient satisfaction, which improves value creation for all stakeholders.
Q: How can agile health technology companies help customers be successful? What are the most crucial qualities to focus on?
A: We believe it is important to have a culture focused on effectively innovating. As a leader in the healthcare IT industry, it’s crucial that we help clients innovate at scale. Many companies get pigeon-holed into one technological tool—like AI or blockchain—or they only offer a narrow point solution for one problem. But as the healthcare industry consolidates, customers are looking for platforms that allow them to innovate with a partner over a long period of time, tackling new growth opportunities and challenges. The strengths of our platform—scale, advanced technology, connectivity and user experience—create value throughout the patient/member journey. We accelerate innovation through real-time proprietary data and insights, to support payers and providers as part of our vision of inspiring a better healthcare system.
Q: Change Healthcare focuses a lot on its “culture of innovation,” what does that mean to you and your customers? Can you give me an example of your innovation mindset at work?
A: Our culture of innovation starts with our core values, which are Pursue Purpose, Be Agile, Champion Innovation, Include All and Earn Trust. If you aren’t dedicated to being proactive and, frankly, allocating resources to innovation, then it doesn’t matter what posters about innovation you hang on the walls.
It’s important to make sure your leadership exhibits the behaviors that align with your organization’s ambitions of innovation. At Change Healthcare, we’ve identified a number of behaviors that make up our Leadership DNA (which stands for Drive, Navigate and Align) and we measure leaders’ performance in these areas through frequent engagement surveys. If leaders aren’t performing, we put plans in place to help them improve.
Beyond leadership, all employees are held to the standards of our culture of innovation. We expect everyone who works with us to apply design thinking, AI, lean start-up and a variety of other capabilities that we think are necessary for a modern information technology company.
Q: What are some other efforts currently underway at Change Healthcare designed to inspire innovation and excitement among employees and customers alike?
A: We do a lot of co-creation with our customers. Organizations need partners when developing new products. Co-creating with our customers gets us out of conference rooms and actually inventing on site with leaders in the industry (at least before the pandemic, now we’re doing so virtually). A lot of organizations talk about doing this, but it’s too rarely done in practice.
Internally, we have an Innovation Prize, which is essentially an annual competition that encourages employees to take highly complex problems in healthcare and use crowdsourcing to solve them, like “Shark Tank.” The competition creates a lot of energy around innovation.
While hiring the best software engineers is key, continuing to move the needle on their development is essential, so we’re focused on enabling our people to be ahead of the curve. For instance, we encourage collaboration and capabilities development through our Codefest event, a two-day hackathon where individuals or small teams can bring new ideas, create a business plan and a functional prototype, and compete for awards and recognition.
Q: What key lessons have you gained from leading an organization during a global pandemic? How will you use these leadership lessons as we move forward into 2021?
A: First of all, we’re going to have a more distributed workforce going forward, albeit one with regular get togethers for teams of various sizes to facilitate creative collaboration. We are talking to our people at all levels and surveying them more frequently to understand how they’re doing, how they’re dealing with the new normal, and what long-term changes they expect to see or desire from us. Given the feedback we’ve received, we’re evolving our capabilities to support this more distributed workforce and to help employees (particularly parents with school-age children) grapple with the challenges of the pandemic. We’ve made a concerted effort to become more attuned to having a nuanced and granular approach to supporting team members and their families. That has been a change from the pandemic that’s going to last. Before, our approach was by no means one-size-fits-all but now, it’s even more personalized to support people being their authentic selves.