Like hospitals and health systems everywhere, Penn Medicine scrambled to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. But it didn’t take long for its leaders to come up with an iterative sprint process to quickly design, validate and scale much-needed services.
Two of the new care delivery innovations developed — satellite drive-thru care sites and a platform for virtual care visits — provided some important lessons that the team recently shared in the Harvard Business Review.
Be Ready to Flex
On a Friday, the team was tasked with establishing a site to test the public by the following Monday. Drawing on health fair and drive-thru concepts, leaders converted a vacant parking lot into a testing site using rope, tape, cones and large whiteboard signs to direct patients. The public lot’s Wi-Fi hotspots became essential for placing on-site orders for walk-ins.
Empower the Squad
A squad of three people leading under 10 clinical staffers was empowered to make rapid changes and adjust processes on the fly. They adapted quickly as plans changed. They kept a running count and burn rate of testing inventory as useful indicators for planning and setting expectations for the day. Ad hoc check-ins helped the team resolve safety issues or inefficiencies like redundant safety screens. Great ideas were shared and praised at kudos rounds.
Preparation Pays Off
The crisis added unprecedented urgency and alignment of priorities, but their speed came in part from preparedness. In prior years, the system had invested in innovation infrastructure, including technical and design capacity. In-house application programming interfaces and human-centered designers experienced with clinical enterprise fueled rapid implementation. These and other factors cut the team’s time to deployment from months to hours or days, enabling the treatment of thousands of patients who were swabbed in the first week of the drive-thru site. More sites were opened and a greater telehealth push swelled virtual visits to more than 24,000 a week through a new virtual care platform that was added.