By Rusty Strange, CIO – Regent Surgical Health and TN HIMSS Board Member

I recently had the pleasure of attending a dinner sponsored by Tennessee HIMSS, where the topic of the evening was “Innovation and Piloting at Scale.” The evening featured the impressive duo of Anika Gardenhire – CDIO and Rick Keller – CIO, both from Ardent Health. The conversation, fueled by some excellent food and lively discussion, centered on a crucial question for our industry: how can and where should we leverage technology to deliver the best possible patient experience?

The key takeaway for me was the emphasis on focused innovation. It’s easy to get caught up in the latest “shiny objects” – the cutting-edge AI solutions or trendy tech platforms. But the most impactful innovations are those that keep the patient at the heart of the equation.

As Anika put it, “We can’t boil the ocean.” We need to identify the core problems that are causing friction for patients and their families. Is it a cumbersome appointment scheduling process? Difficulty accessing medical records? Once we understand the root cause, we can explore solutions that deliver real-world value.

This focus on value extends to the realm of technology itself. Before diving headfirst into a large-scale platform implementation, we need to be brutally honest: does it solve a real problem? How? Can we measure its impact? Can we demonstrate a clear value proposition that makes the patient’s experience demonstrably better?

The discussion also highlighted the importance of starting small and scaling thoughtfully. Sometimes the most impactful solutions come from focusing on a solvable piece of a larger problem. This allows us to prove the concept and iterate before committing to a massive rollout.

Here are some key questions that resonated with me from the evening:

  • Are we truly understanding the problem before we attempt to solve it?
  • Does the technology solution add complexity or streamline the process?
  • Can we demonstrate a measurable improvement in the patient experience?

By prioritizing these questions and focusing on targeted innovation, healthcare CIOs and our vendor partners can ensure that technology acts as an enabler, not a barrier, to delivering exceptional patient care.