At Caring Support we're big promoters of innovation and technology-based solutions, which is why we like to connect with people who value innovation as much as we do and pick their brains to find out about trends and new projects, especially when it comes to healthcare.
On that note, we recently sat down with Pam Stoikopoulos, founder and CEO of Big Eye Innovation, a consulting firm focused on innovation in relation to health and wellness. She gave us an interesting interview for the Caring Support Podcast where we talked about the top 5 healthcare trends we're seeing in healthcare right now including the staffing shortage, in-home health, virtual care, crowdsourcing, and NFT health records.
These are the highlights of our conversation with innovation consultant Pam Stoikopoulos:
In her own words: "I am the founder and CEO of Big Eye Innovation, which is an innovation consulting firm that is focused in the health and wellness space, government, and not for profit. For a number of years, I was the head of Innovation Engagement at a large home care organization. And before that, I was in the PR and Communications world as both a consultant and in the health care space. I founded Big Eye because I really see the need in health care for organizations to take a design-thinking-based approach, which is an interesting concept, but it really is sort of a practical tool in helping you to understand the background or the circumstances, the context of a situation, to figure out what problems are the most pressing and need to be solved, and then defining that problem and charting a course of action in a focused and disciplined way so that you can plan for the future."
Pam adds that "generally I'm very comfortable in the health care space, as I'm actually also a patient. I have an autoimmune condition that is really well managed, but I see things from both sides of the coin. As somebody who has worked in health care, I understand the bureaucracy and the pain points. And then as a patient, I also understand the frustrations of wanting to see action."
About her work, Pam says that "where I really see myself as the most comfortable in that health care space is in organizations. Home care is a great example. People think of it as a 'meat and potatoes' kind of service that we provide or that home care provides to people. But really, there are so many opportunities to streamline processes, to improve experiences, to build quality into whatever you're doing. I really see myself as helping health care specifically to think more deeply about the processes... to think more deeply about the way they approach problems and how they define those problems, and then find solutions not just focusing on the the loudest and the most senior person in the room, but really developing a partnered perspective where you're getting a diverse group of people to bring their insights."
Speaking of healthcare, Pam explains that "health care is all about mitigating risk and what is so great about using a design-thinking-based approach is that you're finding a path to test those riskiest assumptions very quickly, and the worst thing you can do is base an entire program on one person's assumption. What I do is to help health care organizations to map out a plan and then decide on a course of action and how we're going to test those assumptions to see if we're going in the right direction so that we don't get five miles down before we say 'oh, you know what? our patients really hate this' or 'oh, no, there's a real risk over here' - I think that the process that I bring to the table is strategic, strategically connected, but it also really aligns with the 'get it done' kind of attitude that I think patients are really clamouring to see. And you know, we talk about co-design a lot and having been a patient in a number of different circles, I can say that the co-design patients are really anxious to feel like they've accomplished something and done something and that they're really adding value. So, this is a really active way to engage patients, frontline staff, and that leadership where we always think of the leaders who are at the table making the decisions. But this process, this approach, really brings everybody together so that you get that full 360 view of whatever it is you're trying to achieve."
As an innovation consultant, Pam listed the trends she sees on the horizon for healthcare in Canada and the world.
"We definitely are seeing a real staffing crisis right in health care across the board, particularly in long term care and home care, but we're also seeing the emergence of a number of tech companies like Caring Support who are really trying to up the game. For a long time, long-term care and home care have really not changed their model, particularly their hiring practices over the last 15 - 20 years. And I think it's great to see some tech that is responding to this... It is a hard business to be in, a hard business to staff, so I think the easier you can make it, the more frictionless you can make that experience for workers coming in, it will create a more welcoming environment for them. I think it also takes some of the heat off of HR where I think they're drowning right now, so responsive softwares like ret are really great at trying to flip things on their head and simplify the process. There are ways to streamline and simplify that are innovative. So there's a real opportunity for tech companies to get in there to optimize."
"The idea of in-home health hubs is definitely another trend. I think that's going to continue. And so we keep talking about home care because we know home is where people want to be. We're starting to see a decline in the price of tech (for home care.) I've been talking with the director of Best Buy Health and they have a program now, a monitoring program. Walmart is getting into the care space, and we know Google has been in there and Amazon as well. And I know there's another futurist out there who calls it the 'home-spital' right? And think one of the reasons that that's probably going to happen now is because of virtual care. As much as governments say they like home care, they're still not funding it. But how they're going to fund it probably is through hospitals doing virtual care at home. So I think there will be some sort of combo there, as we see the younger boomers, and dare I say it the Xers moving into the space, who are a little more comfortable with technology and a little less suspicious of it."
"The idea of 'patient as partner' is something we are starting to see, but I don't think it's quite there yet. I think right now it's 'patient as advisor' but I really do think patients and caregivers are going to demand to be part of any solution that is developed by health care. And if you don't partner with them, you do so at your own peril. I think about myself going to the doctor. I'm armed with information. I have done my research I've done my homework. I have an opinion about things when I go in. Of course, your doctor is a trusted advisor but we have so much more information and patients are getting together and collecting knowledge."
"My other trend was the data and so crowdsourcing is one of those things but I think we're going to see some interesting things. There are a lot of talks right now about NFTS, which are non-fungible tokens. So right now our patient data is not owned by the patients and NFTs will possibly be the central place where your data resides. But not only that, where patients could have the potential to own their data and make decisions about their data and how it's collected. So right now, we're using Facebook for free, but really data is a commodity and people are selling our data all over the place. I think it'll be really interesting to see where that goes in the next ten years and whether NFTS do actually get used in health care so that we actually take ownership of our own data, which I really am excited about. And also, I think AI as part of that whole data trend is going to continue to be something worth looking at."
"It may seem like a buzzword, but the idea of organizational agility... health care has not been very agile in the past, but they are they had to be in the last two years. It's pretty interesting once you light a fire under somebody how quickly telemedicine, telehealth can get done but part of that feeds into that patient partnership piece. When you see patients demanding things and having some expectations, organizations are going to have to be more agile. They're going to have to move faster. Health care is going to have to up its game in how it responds. And Canada is a little bit special if you look at it versus the US, because of socialized medicine. There's a very different mindset in the US where you see some real agility there because they're trying to get more people into their hospitals while we're kind of holding the doors back on patients. That's why I'm really so excited about launching this business, because I think that I certainly can help in creating that innovator's mindset, that that agile mindset that's ready for anything, planning for the best, expecting the worst, figuring out how how to be responsive and flexible in an approach."
Pam concluded our conversation by saying that "these things seem kind of out there at the start when you first hear about them and you're like 'well, how does that work?' But if you really stop and think about the idea of money; if you really think conceptually, like this is a concept we've all agreed is how we're going to create transactions, it seems like a kind of out-there concept, right? It's all on certain presumptions based on certain presumptions. So I think half of the innovation is the creative application of something that could be a standard technology."
If you liked this interview, you can listen to or watch the full version on our podcast or YouTube Channel. And don't forget to leave us a comment below or a question for Pam Stoikopoulos about innovation, healthcare, and any of the trends you just read about.
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