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Changes Interviews

Listening as a driver of change

Innovation and the availability of information sources: what does the future hold?

Interview with Massimo Annicchiarico

General Manager Regional Directorate of Health and Social-Healthcare Integration in the Lazio Region

By April 2021April 14th, 2021No Comments
Photo by Lorenzo De Simone

If we look at the Emilia Romagna and the Lazio Regions, what does changing the workplace context entail?

First and foremost any change requires a commitment towards acquiring good knowledge of the new context that you will work in, the people, their skills, stories and expectations. Secondly, it is necessary to understand the network of relationships that characterises the new work environment- as it always differs from the previous one- because that helps building the meaning and the sense of the work that one does in a specific workplace. You also need to establish the objectives and the expectations of the new work, both in terms of the official mandate and the individual ideas around what can and should be done during its course.

Change can also offer opportunity.

Change, on a personal level, entails- in addition to what I already discussed- three other things:
• Studying, thus the personal effort to understand the components emerging from any new work, also because the content you work on changes.
• Adopting a listening approach, at least during the initial phases, because any “a priori” knowledge you might have has little use.
• A commitment towards creating more value than you did in the past.

Any change requires a commitment towards acquiring good knowledge of the new context that you will work in.

Will it be a priority for you to introduce innovations, “changes”, in the regional healthcare plan? Are there “different styles” in terms of governing institutions?

I believe that changing one’s role can lead to the opportunity of innovating in different ways. Complex systems, such as the healthcare one, always have elements that need improvement, as they are the result of honest work done over the years. Therefore you have to create a type of developmental- I would say even radical- innovation in situations where you get the sense that finding a solution has been a struggle or where the creation of the right context that would allow some improvement requires different approaches. You have to realise a type of innovation that has the opportunity to fill in the spaces created by change and discontinuity. The latter results from the fact that people are different and that situations evolve while we experience them and offer ourselves opportunities that were not available until recently.

A crisis event does not automatically lead to the creation of value, but we have an opportunity to change this.

How will the healthcare system change after Sars-Cov-2?

That will be up to us but right now it’s very difficult to predict how it will change. One main reason for this is the speed at which opportunities, threats, strengths- developed over time- and the emerging weaknesses interlink with each other, in a fast-changing and dynamic way, so it’s not easy to identify practical directions with which you can create innovation. However, we definitively have the chance to radically change the way activities are done, to the same degree that we are able to chase opportunities for innovation. Most of the arguments made in recent months around the weaknesses of the system had already been discussed before the pandemic. Today we must avoid a situation where, even though we know what the weaknesses are, we do not take advantage of the opportunities that such contingencies offer us. Examples of these are opportunity to digitalise the system, to work in a more interconnected way, to review the needs of the population and the potential inequalities that a pandemic condition helps to highlight. Of course, you also have the matter of centralising the role of the citizens and their care, which is an issue that has been under discussion for a long time. During this phase we have been experimenting different participation modalities and we should take the opportunity to transform some of the principles that were adopted into new established values rather than just keeping these as mere words on paper. Unfortunately, we do risk that such principles will indeed remain theoretical: a crisis event does not automatically lead to the creation of value, but we have an opportunity to change this.

One of the aspects that the Forward team really cares about is the availability of information sources. The Lazio Region is one of the few that does not allow healthcare professionals to have coordinated access to sources of knowledge. Should we expect any change in this regard?

Yes, one would hope so. The record speed in the production of vaccines against Covid-19 was an example of how, in exceptional conditions, culture/knowledge can move much faster from one context to the other and with a much better ability to bring results. This is the product of a joint effort but also of the transfer of information, scientific knowledge and skills between different sectors. We certainly learned the importance of sharing scientific knowledge and how this represents a shared asset we can benefit from. The same goes for what happened with clinical data: information on this pathology was shared very quickly throughout the world because everyone dealt with the same condition and faced very similar issues. The pandemic taught us that sharing and accessing information constitutes an added value; even in this case it’s about turning such awareness into a more adequate operational model. Epidemiological knowledge and predictive models also clearly regained some of their relevance in the healthcare related discourse and culture, and they did so much more than tools, such as big data, which theoretically are more advanced. I think that the Covid-19 emergency marked the comeback of epidemiology, because the predictive models that we utilise today to manage this condition are based much more on epidemiological knowledge than on advanced data management models. Having said that, more progressive instruments, such as artificial intelligence and big data, can help as well, but only if we are capable of not throwing away things, just because they have their own history, and substitute them with more modern ones. Innovation is linked to our ability to generate value through change; otherwise it’s simply introduction of a novelty. True innovation means that when a system is undergoing change its value increases rather than decreasing.

Edited by Rebecca De Fiore

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