Game Changer Insights Detail
5 big questions on innovation
Bryony Winn, Chief Strategy Officer
Bryony Winn is the Chief Strategy Officer for Anthem, Inc., a U.S. provider of health insurance. Anthem is the largest for-profit managed health care company in the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. She is responsible for developing Anthem’s Enterprise strategy and growth plans, as well as continuing to expand Anthem’s focus on delivering innovative solutions to all stakeholders. Prior to Anthem, she was...
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How is your team changing the game within your industry sector?
I believe strongly that to successfully transform an organization to embrace and lead on digital innovation and change… you must ensure innovation is both everywhere… and somewhere. What I mean by this is that you must instill an innovation mindset within every nook and cranny of the organization... while also dedicating a full-time team to the ambition. If you only do the former, you risk the effort stalling due to weak ownership. If you only do the latter, you risk creating a silo, innovating in a vacuum and in a way that doesn’t make sense or isn’t embraced across your business.
In sum, digital transformation requires a “yes, and…”not an “either/or” approach. You must drive cultural changes across the entire organization and set goals / launch dedicated initiatives within and owned by every single part of the business and build a team dedicated solely to driving innovation.
What are some of the biggest impediments to innovation in your organization or industry sector?
Innovation in healthcare... is hard. It is a highly regulated industry; has incredibly varied delivery systems across the world, limiting the spread of best practices and innovation; is dominated by large industry incumbents and significant barriers to entry for new players; and is unparalleled and high stakes – with lives potentially on the line when innovations don’t work.
This has all contributed to digital innovation (and even adoption!) significantly lagging behind other industries. Compared to the digital transformations in other industries (think: the electric car, app-based food and grocery delivery, music streaming, etc.) the disjointed and often analog consumer experience within the healthcare system can feel archaic to consumers.
I see my sector’s history of innovation paralysis, however, as a fantastic opportunity to leapfrog. And, this leapfrogging is well underway – new healthcare technologies (virtual care solutions, remote monitoring, AI algorithms to read chest X-rays, personalized medicine therapies… the list goes on) and advancements in data and analytics are transforming my industry at an unparalleled rate. This transformation has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which placed intense and immediate pressure on my industry to respond. We rushed to develop vaccines, create virtual care options, and adapt our products and services to the “new normal.” COVID-19 has fundamentally changed my industry, and we will continue to invest in innovation to meet the demands of our time.
How has innovation become engrained in your organization's culture, and how is it being optimized?
At my company, we are intensely focused on fostering an innovation culture and mindset in all of our employees. Equally important, however, are the organizational changes we are making to enable these culture changes and mindset shifts. We recognize that it is not enough to tell people to think creatively with an eye towards the future… you must also provide an environment that will enable and empower these changes. This means re-imagining the often long-ingrained processes and structures that can hold back innovation to create a more agile organization. At my company, this means re-designing everything from the way we measure and track our performance to the way we run our day-to day meetings, to the format of our materials and agendas.
What technologies, business models, and trends will drive the biggest changes in your industry over the next two years?
I believe the acceleration of consumerism will be the defining force of the healthcare industry in the post-COVID-19 era. By this I mean so much more than consumers demandingmore user-friendly products. Rather, the “consumer voice” in healthcare, already influential, will grow and consumers will expect more of our industry than to simply provide healthcare services – they will demand health.
They will demand health that is affordable – to meet the ever-increasing affordability challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 epidemic (44% of US consumers reported not being able to pay a $1K medical bill).
They will demand health that delivers chronic condition management, not just urgent care. (American consumers are aging rapidly, and this growing population has significant health needs, with over 2/3 of seniors living with more than 2 chronic conditions.)
And finally, they will demand health inclusive of mental, not just physical care (as COVID-19 increases the prevalence and severity of already under-treated behavioral health conditions).
Can you share a specific innovation strategy you’ve recently encountered which you find compelling?
One of the pitfalls I’ve seen when an organization launches an innovation strategy is the “endless pilots” trap – meaning, they constantly incubate and test ideas, partnerships, and new technologies… but never bring anything to scale. The best innovation teams tackle this risk head on, continuously assessing their pipeline for promise of success and scalability, defining stage gates at which to evaluate their initiatives, and deploying strict criteria to evaluate impact. The result? The portfolio of initiatives become incredibly curated and purposeful; pilots without impact are sunsetted rather than stalled; and successful initiatives are implemented quickly and more broadly. These team are seen as a true incubators of the company’s future – rather than a lone-ranger team running wild with flashy, crazy, impractical ideas.