North Carolina’s Novant Health, one of the country’s leading integrated health networks, recently tapped Dr. Matthew Gymer (DM 2007) to be its Corporate Director of Innovation. In this role, Dr. Gymer is charged with finding new ways to innovate around established medical practices, with the goal of providing “ the most remarkable patient experience, in every dimension, every time.”
To do this, Dr. Gymer is building cross-disciplinary labs where a variety of diverse health care stakeholders can convene and explore patient care and innovation. Novant Innovation Labs bring together a variety of disciplines in addition to medical experts and patients, including architects, artists, psychologists, marketing specialists, equipment manufacturers, and software developers. According to Dr. Gymer, “for most healthcare organizations and particularly those associated with the research universities, innovation in healthcare is mostly around the transfer of intellectual property (IP). At Novant, our innovation model extends best practices beyond IP, to include innovation around patient care and business processes that support our clinical work. Coordination of health care and delivery across the patient care continuum is the basis of our innovation model.” By “patient continuum,” Dr. Gymer is referring to the different levels of medical attention people need over the course of their lives, including acute episodic care, regularly planned visits, wellness, preventative medicine, and self directed care. Novant Innovation Labs rely on design methodology to bring many elements of business process change to the coordination of care delivery. The labs are also engaging in organizational development to enable transformation.
Dr. Gymer believes many of the ideas that he was exposed to during the DM program are directly applicable to his work. In particular, he uses many of the principles of “appreciative inquiry” (developed at Weatherhead) in his organizational development practices. He is hoping to host an appreciative inquiry summit in the future to innovate around patient care.
In a broader sense, Dr. Gymer indicates that his DM training have enabled him to tackle such a complex endeavor. “It is more than just an educational experience, it changes the way you view the world, and the way you compose your professional and personal life. You learn the value of ‘reframing’ problems... The quantitative and qualitative skills and tools that we learn are invaluable to problem solving in a rapidly changing global economy.” These skills are particularly important to Dr. Gymer’s work: “It really works. As a practitioner and leader, bringing scholarly rigor to transformation activities is a competitive advantage as we design a sustainable innovation practice.”
Dr. Gymer entered the DM program as a university financial executive, and since graduating the program has worked as an executive for a large bank and as an independent consultant to companies and government agencies. In addition to his DM degree, Dr. Gymer holds a Bachelor of Arts from The College of Wooster, Masters of Arts from Harvard University, and an MBA from the University of Phoenix.