More than 75,000 Ideas and Counting!

About 200 times per year, I huddle with caregivers in different areas to get a sense of how things are going and what problems they are facing. As I told the team I huddled with last week, telling me about the challenges you face isn’t complaining – it’s educating me so that I can make better decisions.

Often, I can help solve a problem in an area I am visiting by expediting an IT or Facilities request or approving an Innovation Fund submission, but sometimes ̶ especially for long-standing problems ̶ the best I can do is give a little advice about how to approach the problem or who to contact for help.

Other than seeing patients, huddling with frontline caregivers is my favorite part of this job. The one constant at the huddles is that there are always more ideas coming from the team then there is time to implement, and that’s a good thing. I coach the teams to have the courage to prioritize the ideas that will have the biggest impact with the smallest amount of effort.   Some ideas are huge and will take months to accomplish. If you take too many of these on, you will have an idea traffic jam of sorts. I meet with 400 managers, executives and supervisors each year and remind them that listening to our caregivers and implementing their ideas is at the center of the culture we are creating here. I am incredibly proud of how far we have come with our idea system, despite having a long way to go.

Heart and Vascular Huddle

Recent huddle with Heart and Vascular Interventional Labs Team at University Campus

To date, we have implemented 78,087 ideas! That’s incredible! I don’t know of another company in New England that can say they’ve implemented that many ideas from their frontline teams. But we can. You may not know this, but I get calls from companies all across the country, and now even from Europe, asking if they can come visit UMass Memorial Health Care to learn how we transformed thousands of ideas from staff into our every day work. I’m enormously proud of that kind of acknowledgement from other organizations, and I hope you are too.

I know we have thousands and thousands of problems that we still need to fix and that external forces are creating new problems every day, but please take a moment to celebrate having fixed 78,087 of them over the last six years. I can’t imagine where we would be today if we didn’t implement 78,087 of your ideas.

Our frontline ideas may seem like simple things that just happen in the course of a team’s work together, but often these ideas are true innovation. Many people think “innovation” is something that only scientists or researchers do, but the dictionary definition of innovation is “the introduction of something new – a new idea, method or device.”

That’s what we do here every day throughout UMass Memorial. That’s why we named this blog Everyday Innovators and named our annual recognition program the Innovators of the Year award to honor the teams that represent the “best of the best” for their creativity and contributions to our system. Last week, I announced our “Sweet 16” Innovators of the Year finalists – all nominated by their peers. If you missed it, watch the video or see the list of finalists below. Soon, everyone will have the chance to vote on who will become our Innovators of the Year. If you know anyone on these teams, reach out to them and give them a handshake and a heartfelt “congratulations.” This truly is an honor.

And let’s keep the ideas coming. We generally generate 13,000 to 15,000 new ideas a year. Do you think we can exceed that goal and hit 100,000 by the end of fiscal year 2020? My money is on “yes we can”!

P.S. If you haven’t seen our “huddle tour” social media posts, check out this link and follow me on Twitter @EricDicksonCEO to see future posts.


Innovator of the Year Award Sweet 16 Finalists

UMass Memorial Health Care

  • Information Systems – Hosting, Monitoring and Videoconferencing
  • Information Systems – Service Standards
  • Managed Care Operations
  • Office of Clinical Integration – Data Management and Reporting
  • Patient Access Services – Scheduling Services
  • Patient Financial Services (University and Hahnemann campuses)

UMass Memorial Community Healthlink

  • Quality Improvement

UMass Memorial HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital

  • Environmental Services
  • Home Health and Hospice

UMass Memorial – Marlborough Hospital

  • Women’s Imaging (Southborough)

UMass Memorial Medical Center/Medical Group

  • Eye Center
  • Emergency Department (Memorial Campus)
  • Pediatrics Clinic
  • Inpatient Pharmacy (Memorial Campus)
  • Interpreter Services
  • Psychiatry Administration


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