October 31, 2013 - FILED UNDER Agile Business
UnitedHealth Group Creates Award-Winning Innovation Programs
One of the marvels of 21st century medicine is that it’s held together by 19th century paperwork. The healthcare industry as a whole now needs help reshaping processes and promoting a culture of innovation throughout various branches, from consumer services to technology developments, foundational principles, and business models. Healthcare is heavily affected by government regulations. As one of the largest industries in the world — with revenues of over $1.6 trillion in the United States alone — innovations in this space are largely due to visionary individuals who identify key needs and push for necessary change.
One such innovation leader is UnitedHealth Group’s Director of IT, Greg Hicks.
A Cultural Transformation
Not long ago, UnitedHealth Group set out on a path to create a culture that could address these needs. UHG serves 85 million individuals throughout the entire United States, and a total of 20 countries worldwide. In the midst of a cultural transformation of its own, this massive enterprise is well-positioned to address short and long-term objectives.
Greg Hicks runs a small, effective team to drive innovation across the company. Though the last few years have seen innovation quickly rise from industry buzzword to strategic necessity, many companies still struggle to find a tool or plan that allows them to execute repeatable business innovation. Modern businesses need to be able to capture, facilitate, and measure innovation initiatives over time. For Greg, rolling ideas up through the organizational hierarchy proved to be inefficient. With a new process and the right technology in place, UHG sought to flatten the pipeline across groups in order to allow direct engagement with team leaders. That’s where UHG found that SpigitEngage could help them to gather ideas, bubble those idea up to top decision-makers, and engage their employees through the platform.
Writes Hicks: “Utilizing SpigitEngage as the underlying technology and combining [complementary] offline activities, this program enabled leaders, including CEO Stephen Hemsley, to engage employees across the enterprise in solving some of healthcare’s greatest challenges.” Some examples include:
- The winning idea from an IT process improvement challenge was assigned as a project to new hires in the TDP (Technology Development Program). They spent 20% of their time over eight months and addressed redundancies and efficiencies in their Quality Operating System which, when implemented, deliver returns in the tune of $500k per year.
- In 2012 they ran a CEO challenge to focus on how to improve the benefits process which affected consumers and providers. This generated more than 1,300 great ideas. The number one idea, which is currently funded and in implementation mode, addresses an opportunity space that has the potential to save up to $27 million per year and more importantly satisfy the needs and expectations of millions of consumers and thousands of providers. With a $1 million investment, they initially expect to capture just a portion of that $27 million opportunity. Their 5 year ROI is expected to be nearly $50 million.
As a result of myriad great achievements driven by Hicks and his outstanding team, Greg was presented with the Super Nova Award for Innovation at this year’s Constellation Research CCE2013 event. It’s an exceptional accomplishment, and a testament to the value of innovation management.
Since the implementation of SpigitEngage technology, which has increased expert participation and improved voting methods, UnitedHealth Group has accelerated ideation and collaboration. The impact of these efforts was immediately felt; overall engagement has skyrocketed across the company. Says Hicks, “These tools support a program that uses technology to engage and guide employees, while also leveraging offline tools and strategies to develop and evolve concepts and encourage deep collaboration.”
These impressive engagement results have also helped UHG to streamline budgets and cultivate greater productivity, all the while optimizing company-wide ideation. With the right innovation program made executable across the organization, UnitedHealth Group is now poised to lead the charge towards greater accessibility and cutting-edge innovations, eventually bringing hugely positive, repeatable results to the future of the healthcare industry.