Responding to the Grand Challenges in Health Care via Organizational Innovation: Volume 21

Cover of Responding to the Grand Challenges in Health Care via Organizational Innovation

Needed Advances in Management Research


Table of contents

(11 chapters)


Pages i-xxiii
Content available

The chapter summarizes key literature, including emerging ideas, that is pertinent to the question of how organizations and their leadership deal with and are resilient through crises – highlighting what works in surviving unexpected crises. The chapter presents an illustration of organizational response; it concludes with an analysis of what is missing from the literature and recommends a path forward to expanding actionable knowledge in this area. Multiple, interdependent factors that foster resilience are identified including (1) being sensitive to possible threats – even seemingly small failures, (2) not relying on simple interpretations of events but rather seeking diversity to create a complete view of the environment, (3) leadership that embraces communication, transparency, and continuous learning, (4) valuing expertise and allowing expert staff to make decisions during a crisis, and (5) a cultural commitment to a resiliency mindset that accepts failures as opportunities to learn and improve. Emerging concepts that may foster resilience but require more research include managing paradox, emotional ambivalence and diversity. Additional areas for fruitful research include: the impact of short-term versus long-term, or successive, crises; external versus internal shocks and the framing of the source of shocks; how crisis affect the pace of innovation and change; the role of diversity in organizational responses to crises; and a set of methodological opportunities to leverage natural experiments or simulations in ways that allow for longitudinal data illuminating the full cycle of crises across organizations from anticipation, to response, to longer-term adaptation to the new normal.


In this chapter, we identify three distinct transformational performance improvement (TPI) approaches commonly used to redesign work processes in health care organizations. We describe the unique components or tools that each approach uses to improve the delivery of health services. We also summarize what is empirically known about the effectiveness of each TPI approach according to systematic reviews and recent studies published in the peer-reviewed literature. Based on examination of this research, we discuss what knowledge is still needed to strengthen the evidence for whole system transformation. This involves the use of conceptual frameworks to assess and guide implementation efforts, and facilitators and barriers to change as revealed in a recent evaluation of one major initiative, the Lean Enterprise Transformation (LET) at the Veterans Health Administration. The analysis suggests ways in which TPI facilitators can be developed and barriers reduced to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of quality initiatives. Finally, we discuss appropriate study designs to evaluate TPI interventions that may strengthen the evidence for their effectiveness in real world practice settings.


Can we speed the testing, implementation and spread of management innovations in a systematic way to also contribute to scientific knowledge? Researchers and implementers have developed an approach to test and revise a local version of an innovation during its implementation. The chapter starts with a case example of an application of this combination of implementation and quality improvement sciences and practices (improve-mentation). It then summarizes four examples of this approach so as to help understand what improve-mentation is and how it is different from traditional quality improvement and traditional implementation of evidence-based practices. It considers gaps in knowledge that are hindering both more use of improve-mentation to generate scientific knowledge about spread and implementation, as well as more use of improve-mentation by health care service organizations and researchers. It closes by proposing fruitful research and development that can address these knowledge gaps to speed the implementation, sustainment and spread of care and management innovations.


The adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) and digitization of health data over the past decade is ushering in the next generation of digital health tools that leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to improve varied aspects of health system performance. The decade ahead is therefore shaping up to be one in which digital health becomes even more at the forefront of health care delivery – demanding the time, attention, and resources of health care leaders and frontline staff, and becoming inextricably linked with all dimensions of health care delivery. In this chapter, we look back and look ahead. There are substantive lessons learned from the first era of large-scale adoption of enterprise EHRs and ongoing challenges that organizations are wrestling with – particularly related to the tension between standardization and flexibility/customization of EHR systems and the processes they support. Managing this tension during efforts to implement and optimize enterprise systems is perhaps the core challenge of the past decade, and one that has impeded consistent realization of value from initial EHR investments. We describe these challenges, how they manifest, and organizational strategies to address them, with a specific focus on alignment with broader value-based care transformation. We then look ahead to the AI wave – the massive number of applications of AI to health care delivery, the expected benefits, the risks and challenges, and approaches that health systems can consider to realize the benefits while avoiding the risks.


While it has long been established that social factors, such as housing, transportation, and income, influence health and health care outcomes, over the last decade, attention to this topic has grown dramatically. Reforms that promote high-quality care as well as responsibility for total cost of care have shifted focus among health care providers toward upstream determinants of health care outcomes. As a result, there has been a proliferation of activity focused on integrating and aligning social and medical care, many of which depend critically on cross-sector alliances. Despite considerable activity in this area, cross-sector alliances in health care remain largely undertheorized. Both literatures stand to gain from more attention to carefully knitting together the theoretical and management literature on alliances with the empirical, health policy and health services literature on cross-sector alliances in health care. In this chapter, we lay out what exists in the current scientific literature as well as a framework for considering much needed work in this area. We organize the literature and our commentary around the lifecycle of alliances: alliance formation, including factors prompting alliance formation, partner selection, and alliance goals; alliance maturity, including the work of these cross-sector alliances, governance, finance and contracts, staffing structure, and rewards; and critical crossroads, including alliance timelines, definitions of success, and dissolution. We also lay out critical areas for future inquiry, including better theorizing on cross-sector alliances, developing typologies of these cross-sector health care alliances, and the role of policy in cross-sector alliances.


Networked forms of organizing in health care are increasingly viewed as an effective means of addressing “wicked”, multifaceted health and societal challenges. This is because networks attempt to address these challenges via collaborative approaches in which diverse stakeholders together define the problem(s) and implement solutions. Consequently, there has been a sharp increase in the number and types of networks used in health care. Despite this growth, our understanding of how these networks are governed has not kept pace. The purpose of this chapter is to chart a research agenda for scholars who are interested in studying health care network governance (i.e., the systems of rules and decision-making within networks), which is of particular importance in deliberate networks between organizations. We do so based on our knowledge of the literature and interviews with subject matter experts, both of which are used to identify core network governance concepts that represent gaps in our current knowledge. Our analysis identified various conceptualizations of networks and of their governance, as well as four primary knowledge gaps: “bread and butter” studies of network governance in health care, the role of single organizations in managing health care networks, governance through the life-cycle stages of health care networks, and governing across the multiple levels of health care networks. We first seek to provide some conceptual clarity around networks and network governance. Subsequently, we describe some of the challenges that researchers may confront while addressing the associated knowledge gaps and potential ways to overcome these challenges.


There are longstanding concerns about the sustainability of the US health care system. Payment reform has been seen over the last decade as a key strategy to reorienting the US health care system around value. Alternative payment models (APMs) that seek to accomplish this goal have become increasingly prevalent in the US, yet there is a perception that physicians are resistant to their use and that organizations have been slow to adopt such models. The reasons for the limited effectiveness of APM programs are multifactorial and include aspects related to the design and implementation of these programs and lack of alignment and coordination across different payers and health care sectors. Most importantly, however, is that the current organizational structures in US health care serve to dampen the direct impact of these incentives, often because health care delivery organizations face conflicting incentives themselves. Organizations filter and refine the incentives from multiple external payment contracts and develop internal incentive systems that best reflect the amalgamation of the incentives embedded across their contracts, and thus the fragmented nature of the US health care system serves to undermine efforts to transform care under value-based contracts. In addition to organizations having conflicting incentives, there also are fundamental problems with the design and implementation of APMs that hinder their acceptance among physicians and the organizations in which they work. Moreover, much remains to be learned about how organizations can best adapt to succeed under these models, and how organizational culture can be leveraged to transform care.


Patient engagement has been a focus of patient-centered care in recent years, encouraging health care organizations to increase efforts to facilitate a patient's ability to participate in health care. At the same time, a growing body of research has examined the impact that social determinants of health (SDOH) have on patient health outcomes. Additionally, health care equity is increasingly becoming a focus of many organizations as they work to ensure that all patients receive equitable care. These three domains – patient engagement, SDOH, and health care equity – can intersect in the implementation of social needs screenings among health care organizations. We present a case study on a two-phase social needs screening implementation project and describe how this process focuses on equity. As health care organizations seek to increase patient engagement, address SDOH, and improve health equity, we highlight the need to move away from a siloed approach and view these efforts as interrelated. By approaching efforts to address these challenges and barriers as the duty of all those involved in the patient care process, there may be larger strides made toward equitable health care.


In the US, a growing number of organizations and industries are seeking to affirm their commitment to and efforts around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as recent events have increased attention to social inequities. As health care organizations are considering new ways to incorporate DEI initiatives within their workforce, the anticipated result of these efforts is a reduction in health inequities that have plagued our country for centuries. Unfortunately, there are few frameworks to guide these efforts because few successfully link organizational DEI initiatives with health equity outcomes. The purpose of this chapter is to review existing scholarship and evidence using an organizational lens to examine how health care organizations can advance DEI initiatives in the pursuit of reducing or eliminating health inequities. First, this chapter defines important terms of DEI and health equity in health care. Next, we describe the methods for our narrative review. We propose a model for understanding health care organizational activity and its impact on health inequities based in organizational learning that includes four interrelated parts: intention, action, outcomes, and learning. We summarize the existing scholarship in each of these areas and provide recommendations for enhancing future research. Across the body of knowledge in these areas, disciplinary and other silos may be the biggest barrier to knowledge creation and knowledge transfer. Moving forward, scholars and practitioners should seek to collaborate further in their respective efforts to achieve health equity by creating formalized initiatives with linkages between practice and research communities.


Pages 191-201
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Cover of Responding to the Grand Challenges in Health Care via Organizational Innovation
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Advances in Health Care Management
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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