Healthcare Pilot Projects | Planning for Success

By June 28, 2016 No Comments

Healthcare Pilot Projects | Finding the Right Improvement Strategy for Your Organization


Healthcare pilot projects are popping up across the country.  Some of them are being executed at the Federal level with large healthcare organization initiatives, while others are micro pilots that are being launched at organizations such as small provider groups.


Whatever the scale, one thing is clear.  Healthcare organizations are looking to test the waters to find innovations that work.  In today’s post we are going to talk a bit about healthcare pilot projects, and how you can work to select a pilot project that is meaningful to your organization, provides results for healthcare leadership, and is scalable. It all begins with selecting an appropriate pilot project.


How to select a healthcare pilot project that is a good fit for your organization.


When it comes to selecting a healthcare pilot project, the project, implementation, and outcome goals should be as specific as your organization.  Innovative leaders are focusing on one area that they would like to improve and designing a program or finding a partner to impact that singular area. 


For instance, a health plan that has a pocket of members that are pre-diabetic might design a diabetes prevention pilot program targeted to this specific demographic of their member population.  In this case they would look to identify a partner that offers an innovative technology designed to reduce or prevent the onset of diabetes in high risk patients.


Similarly, organizations that are looking to reduce unnecessary ED visits might partner with an organization such as DocResponse that provides technology to assist in routing patients toward the most appropriate level of care or service type.


The important thing to remember is that when designing a pilot program, or pilot project, you should have a very specific goal in mind.  You should also have a clearly defined idea of how you are going to measure the effectiveness of the program, and how program success is defined.


Identify Data Sets and Goals of the Healthcare Pilot Project


One of the primary mistakes that healthcare organizations make when designing pilot programs or pilot projects is not having a clear idea of what the goals of the program are before beginning, and not determining what metrics will be measured to identify these goals before the program starts.  In the age of value based care and evidence based practices, it is critical that healthcare organizations get very specific and scientific when determining goals and measurements.  


You need to have a control group, or a historic baseline of healthcare outcomes or performance against which to measure.  You also need to ensure that you are isolating variables to ensure the viability of outputs.  Let’s use one of our examples above and look at what some sample metrics might look like.


If a health plan was to create a diabetes prevention program, they would want to define a specific set of the member population to run the program on.  They would also want to clearly identify each component or stage of the program to determine how it would work.  For instance, a high level outline of the program might look like this:


  • New members will be screened for diabetes risk factors.
  • Those whose clinical tests indicate pre-diabetes risk factors will be enrolled into an educational preventive pilot program.
  • Those who are enrolled in the program will be tracked and monitored for completion of the program.
  • Secondary testing will be done within a set amount of time to determine the percentage of members who have seen a positive outcome in relation to their risk factors, those that have experienced no change in their risk factors, and those who have seen a progression which resulted in a diagnosis of diabetes.
  • The outcomes of this group will be measured against either a variable group who did not participate in the program, or historic data. It is important that all variables with the exception of participation in the pilot program are the same.  (For example, if there is a provider access problem in one area that could negatively impact outcomes which is not an issue in another area, this variable could skew the results)



In this example, data sets would include clinical data, screening data, program enrollment and participation data, follow up clinical data, as well as some geographic or population based data to ensure that there is an apples to apples comparison going on between participants in the pilot program and the general member population.  Elimination or lack of information related to any of these data sets can lead to an inconclusive finding. 


The overall goals, or threshold of success for the program should also be measured.  In this case, the goal might have been to decrease the onset of diabetes in a certain percentage of the member population.  Knowing what the goal is, and what data needs to be captured to accurately measure the effectiveness of the program BEFORE the program begins is critical to a successful healthcare pilot program.


Making the Most of Healthcare Pilot Project Success



One the pilot project or program is over, if appropriate data has been captured throughout the duration of the program, and a threshold for success has been determined, it is easy for an organization to determine whether or not the program was successful.


For successful healthcare pilot programs, if the program was designed in an effective way, not only does it allow for ease when capturing information and determining effectiveness, but it streamlines the process for expanding the project into the future.


When you have a seamlessly designed healthcare pilot project, it allows you to test the intervention on a small segment and then provides a step by step blueprint for rolling out the program – if successful – to other members, patients, or organizations.


There are additional ways that healthcare organizations can make the most of healthcare pilot programs.  Consider the following:


  • Ensure that you have a plan to write up, publish, and promote the outcomes of successful pilot programs and projects so that other healthcare organizations can replicate the success
  • Talk to your patients or members about the program to get them involved, and to show them that your healthcare organization is dedicated to working toward providing superior care through innovative initiatives
  • Break down the healthcare silos of sharing information. If you are a provider organization that has found success, share this information with the payers that you contract with.  If you are a payer organization, distribute this information to the members of your provider network.  Don’t be hesitant to share ideas for pilot programs and pilot projects with other stakeholders as well, such as community groups and advocacy groups.  Some of the most successful programs are ones in which all healthcare stakeholders – providers, payers, members, and the community come together to improve healthcare.


Are you interested in finding out how healthcare technology can assist your organization in achieving better outcomes in a more cost effective manner?  DocResponse, the world’s most accurate patient assessment tool is currently looking for strategic partners that would be interested in participating in healthcare pilot programs.  For more information please contact us at info@DocResponse.com


Has your organization seen success with a healthcare pilot program or project? Please share your success with us in the comments below or via social!