Brie Riley

Director of Innovation
Henry Ford Health

Q&A with Brie Riley
Director of Innovation
Henry Ford Health

Brie Riley, Director of Innovation, Henry Ford Health, will be leading a session, Crowdsource – External Partnerships: Accelerating Technology Innovation at The Innovation Workshop and Tour: A Quarterly Series, hosted by the Frost & Sullivan Growth Innovation Leadership Council. The event will take place at MIT InnovationHQ, MIT’s new hub for innovation and entrepreneurship, on May 17, 2023. Space is limited, so you’ll want to register soon if you’d like to join us!

Ahead of the event, Brie answered these timely questions about innovation today:

  1. What do you see as the top two challenges to technological innovation for companies today?

For healthcare technologies, one challenge is access to the right end-users, essential support personnel and subject matter experts. Many startups will create solutions without engaging the right stakeholders, resulting in technologies that are suboptimal, or worse, they solve a problem that may not exist. Understanding who the end-user(s) are and engaging them at the earliest stage will alleviate the risks of creating an inefficacious solution.

Another challenge is obtaining financing to support hospital pilots. In the healthcare arena, there is often a “chicken-and-egg” issue of funding new health tech startups. Health system piloting and supporting new technologies is expensive and cannot be done free of charge. However, investors understandably carry apprehension around investing in new technologies without early evidence of success. Ultimately, this can be alleviated if health systems are willing to join in the risk of supporting new enterprises by accepting alternate modes of pilot payments such as royalty, equity, and/or milestone payments.

  1. Are AI applications and innovation a dangerous pairing? Best scenarios for success or pitfalls to beware of?

AI itself isn’t a danger but our reliance on it, and an assumption that over-engineering decision-making will produce definitive outcomes, may lend to future challenges. AI is an excellent tool for streamlining our processes and helping draw conclusions. However, it should not be the sole decision-maker. In the instance of healthcare, there are a plethora of opportunities to streamline operations whether it be diagnoses or paying for care. The AI shouldn’t be the final step in the patient care delivery process or experience. For instance, physicians are essential for weighing in on diagnostics, as they can provide the full context and nuances, as well as emotional support in delivering diagnostic information to a patient. For payments, finance experts are key to ensuring that care is paid for accurately and ethically.

  1. Based on your experiences, what is the most challenging part of the start-up lifecycle? Biggest lesson learned – or maybe, lesson learned over and over again?

All stages of the startup life cycle are filled with unique challenges. However, early-stage, pre-sales companies have a unique pressure associated with them. Many startups try to “boil the ocean,” as they are hungry to grow and generate dollars to support themselves and the people who run the company. At the beginning of the startup life cycle, when startup leaders are trying to capture their first pilot site, many will attempt to be a one-stop-shop for all of a (potential) future client organization’s problems. Hyper-focusing on the startup’s strengths with a specific and clear problem statement will always produce a more fruitful outcome rather than being fixated with solving every problem.

  1. What are some strategies to break through the barriers of the current labor crisis for companies pursuing innovation and growth?

The top strategic priority for combating the labor crisis should be a focus on leadership and how teams are managed. In a study by Gallup, 50% of survey respondents claimed they left a job to “get away from their manager to improve their overall life…” Ensuring that leaders are supporting their teams and collecting regular feedback are fast and impactful ways to create organizations that will passionately pursue innovation and growth. By becoming obsessed with feedback, teams will feel engaged and heard, and managers can easily identify the most relevant opportunities for pursuing innovation. Actualizing this feedback into technologies, pilots, and successful launches from the institution produces greater and more relevant outcomes in the long run.

Don’t miss The Innovation Workshop and Tour: A Quarterly Series, hosted by the Frost & Sullivan Growth Innovation Leadership Council.  It’s a unique opportunity to connect with and learn from industry leaders ready to share experiences and insights you can apply to your own organization. Collaborative sessions on critical innovation issues will abound, capped off by a tour of MIT’s world-class innovation headquarters.

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