From left: DO IT Challenge winners Brandon DiGiacomo, Jessica Meiley (with Mark Zhang of iHub) and Gwenn Lanouette (with Chen Cao of iHub), who each received an iPad Mini for their winning idea.

From difficult paper processes to tiresome technology-based tasks, last year’s DO IT Challenge — short for Decreasing Operational Inefficiencies Together — revealed a wide range of opportunities to improve clinical, research and administrative workflows using digital technology.

The DO IT Challenge invited Brigham staff to help identify the most inefficient, cumbersome or redundant work-related tasks they wrestle with daily that could be solved with digital technologies.

Hosted by the Brigham Digital Innovation Hub (iHub), the challenge prompted 160 employees to share 237 ideas by the end of the 20-day submission period. More than 80 percent of the ideas came from front-line staff, and about half of the submissions involved improvements with the hospital’s electronic health record system, Epic.

From that pool of ideas, iHub recently announced two winning projects: one focused on removing a data-entry redundancy in Epic and another that will digitize the process for conducting annual performance reviews. In addition to having their pain point tackled, winners were awarded an iPad Mini.

“DO IT was really a crowdsourced campaign. It was going to be successful or fail based on the engagement of the community, and what we saw in terms of participation and submissions far exceeded our expectations,” said Mark Zhang, DO, MMSc, medical director of the iHub.

The winning projects were selected following a review of all ideas by five multidisciplinary committees and a focus group of more than 30 managers from across the Brigham. While the crowdsourcing-based challenge ended in March 2020, the process for reviewing and selecting winning projects was paused while the hospital responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to addressing the two winning initiatives, iHub leaders said that two-thirds of the total submissions are or will continue to be addressed through staff education or smaller-scale solutions.

Orthopaedics technicians Gwenn Lanouette, MS, ATC, LAT, CES, OTC, and Jessica Meiley, ATC, OTC, of Rehabilitation Services, were named joint winners for identifying a redundant process in Epic when entering ICD-10 codes, which are used for medical billing. When ordering medical equipment for patients, Lanouette and Meiley noticed that the system prompted them to locate and input the code twice — an unnecessary and time-consuming process.

As a result of their submission, staff from the iHub partnered with Brigham IS and the enterprise Digital Health eCare team to remove the redundancy so that the ICD-10 code now only needs to be entered once.

“What’s interesting about this project is that Gwenn and Jessica sent in their submissions separately — signaling this was a redundant piece of busywork that was clearly painful enough that multiple people brought it up,” Zhang said. “This is a perfect example of a problem DO IT was created to solve.”

Fellow DO IT winner Brandon DiGiacomo, MA, SHRM-CP, a Human Resources (HR) business partner, submitted his idea for transitioning to a fully digital performance review system after witnessing firsthand how manual the existing process was for all parties involved — leading to inconsistencies and errors.

“Working closely with our HR Business Partner team and our HR Operations team, it became clear that the performance appraisal process caused many headaches for both HR and our managers across the hospital,” DiGiacomo said. “I was inspired to submit this idea after being in multiple meetings in which managers were frustrated. They said the performance appraisal was submitted to HR; however, HR did not have a copy of the review. After these meetings, I began to think about how our current process can be improved.”

HR is currently piloting a fully digital system for conducting and submitting performance reviews, without any need for printing, scanning or emailing documents.

DiGiacomo said it was rewarding to know that hospital leadership was receptive and responsive to feedback from front-line staff.

“It made me very excited to learn the hospital would address this issue,” he said. “I believe the more we can use technology for automation, the more opportunity there is for improvement in the systems and processes we use today.”