Our Culture of Innovation

This article was published in the Winter 2021 issue

by Brinton Frisby, Director of Product Development, 3M HIS

Healthcare is supposed to be simple, right? Doctors, nurses, and patients working together to stay healthy. Behind the exam room in the hospital or clinic, there is a maze of information systems that work together to maintain the data required to ensure positive outcomes in each exam room. This complex ecosystem of servers and databases communicate in a language that is not widely understood unless you work in the field of healthcare IT.

Since 1983, 3M Health Information Systems (3M HIS) (https://www.3m.com/3M/en_US/health-information-systems-us/) has powered healthcare systems. 3M HIS is the industry leader in healthcare coding and classification software and tools that track patient care and services in hospitals, health systems, and physicians’ offices nationwide and around the world. 3M HIS also provides public and proprietary algorithms that help calculate the cost of care and enable faster reimbursement for services by health systems and insurers across the nation. With the advent of the 3M™ 360 Encompass™ System, 3M HIS has grown into a complex ecosystem of interoperable systems for thousands of clients, fueled by artificial intelligence (AI) and big data analytics working in tandem to improve outcomes and reduce costs in care.

In light of the current pandemic, the demand has skyrocketed for creative solutions that help hospital operations to increase productivity while lowering costs. The challenge to innovate is as important today as it’s ever been, but this is not a new challenge to 3M HIS. The mission of 3M HIS is aligned with the demands of increasingly complex global healthcare systems. This mission is summarized by three overarching objectives: Eliminating revenue cycle waste, helping clinicians create time to care, and driving value-based care. Below are four practices that we use to in our ongoing effort to achieve our mission and deliver cutting-edge solutions to global healthcare markets.

Be Agile

3M HIS applies agile techniques in our product development to adapt more quickly and smoothly to changing market demands and opportunities. The heart of the agile product development philosophy is to build products in sprint iterations and to incorporate the customer into those sprints. By building in short sprints we can deliver the product more quickly, which limits work in progress and allows for rapid feedback cycles from our end users. We make the customer the center of our development effort. As our sprint teams plan work in short intervals, they focus on customer feedback to guide the product design. Our agile philosophy includes continual improvement. Each team is encouraged to adopt a "kaizen," or area for improvement that the team can work on to become more effective. Following this protocol helps teams deliver, faster and better, more customer-centric technologies to market.

Evolve Our Company Culture

As a company that has shaped global healthcare systems for nearly four decades, 3M HIS maintains solutions and practices that have been built over time. Anyone who has worked in technology knows that the rate of change within the industry has increased in the past 10 years and company culture must change with it to stay competitive. The impact that cloud, machine learning, and cybersecurity have made in our industry are tremendous and exciting because of the doors that are being opened for innovation. Not long ago, the common belief was that sensitive healthcare data would never be safe in the cloud, but today it is widely accepted that cloud practices are safe, and we are leveraging it to build faster and with lower maintenance costs.

3M HIS teams aggressively focus on culture because it is what sets us apart from others. Our culture is defined by our attitude towards our clients, our products, and our people. Clients are our highest priority and 3M HIS aims to quickly meet their needs by helping them to be more effective in their management of the business of healthcare. We build industry-leading products by leveraging new technology standards and practices. Our Artificial Intelligence (AI) processes more millions of patient encounters each month and teams continually innovate to make it faster, and more targeted to department-specific solutions. Our people are the core of our culture. 3M HIS recognizes its talented employees as our competitive advantage and constantly works to achieve a favorable work-life balance. Headquartered in Utah, 3M HIS understands the need for a workplace that demands results from its people while enabling the lifestyle, sports, and values that this community holds dear. Additionally, the parent company (3M) takes great pride in being recognized for many years as one of the world’s most ethical companies (https://www.3m.com/3M/en_US/ethics-compliance/).

Obsess Over Talent

Our teams and the collective knowledge built over several decades are what set us apart.

What began as a small shop with an idea of how to use data classification systems to better track hospital outcomes, has grown into larger and more meaningful tools and practices. Along with it grew the insights, vision, and solutions made possible by incredible teams of people who understand the role of global government and private agencies in healthcare and have relationships with each in order to disseminate the content across our portfolio of products.

While we have a great depth of knowledge in the industry, 3M HIS does not rest on its laurels but strives to train and expand its talent base. With continual training and precise hiring of top talent, 3M HIS builds the healthcare solutions of tomorrow. Teams that work with legacy technologies are encouraged to learn and work on new projects as frequently as possible to help keep their skills up-to-date and to infuse legacy project knowledge into each new initiative. We focus on recruiting top talent by creating a workplace that is attractive to them resulting in above-average employee retention rates. Our success and the success of our clients depends on our ability to recruit and hire innovative thinkers and to integrate them into our company culture.

Use Acquisitions

The technology revolution is in full swing, and nowhere is this more apparent than in healthcare as global health systems continue to invest in solutions that help them operate more efficiently. One model for growth and innovation that 3M HIS leverages is business acquisition. While it is true that mergers and acquisitions can be risky, particularly due to the chance that combining company cultures can fail, the opportunity to grow the portfolio by acquiring top solutions and technical talent has been effective. With more than a dozen acquisitions, 3M HIS has been able to grow rapidly. This was especially true of the most recent acquisition of M*Modal in 2019  (https://news.3m.com/English/press-releases/press-releases-details/2019/3M-Completes-Acquisition-ofMModals-Technology-Business/default.aspx). By combining 3M HIS's technology in Revenue Cycle and Value-Based Care Solutions with the clinically-focused solutions of M*Modal, such as Computer-Assisted Physician Documentation (CAPD) and conversational AI solutions, 3M HIS provides a more rounded product portfolio that combines the back office with the front office. With solutions that are better integrated to provide real-time reminders to physicians to better document the patient experience, physicians are able to focus on treatment and outcomes while still providing the critical information that ensures medical billing and documentation improvement efforts are completed quickly and accurately.

During this time of COVID-19, when the strain on healthcare systems worldwide has never been higher, 3M HIS works alongside healthcare providers to deliver the critical solutions that are necessary to manage the global pandemic while focusing on vital outpatient procedures that are the heart of each hospital's revenue model. As the world and the pandemic move into 2021, it’s clear the complex healthcare ecosystem will continue to change and 3M HIS is thrilled by the opportunities that exist to build innovative solutions that make healthcare systems better for all.

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