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HHS Innovation Day: Three Takeaways for Public Sector Innovators

HHS Innovation Day celebrates public servants as innovators and agents for creative change.

Innovation is crucial for the US Department of Health and Human Services to fulfill our increasingly complex mission, address new challenges, and keep up with the pace of change. Some of the most powerful innovations to address these challenges comes from within – from the dedicated and passionate employees at HHS.

The Office of the Chief Technology Officer recently hosted HHS Innovation Day: A Day of Discovery.  This event celebrated innovation happening across the Department and highlighted our creative and talented staff who are trying to change the way the agency works for the better. 

Here are three takeaways for federal employees from the day:

As Federal staff, you are uniquely positioned to drive innovation for the greater good

HHS Innovation Day

Adam Boehler, former Director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, shared his experiences and biggest surprises on innovating in the public sector vs. the private sector. A major surprise was the impact one individual can have in government. To illustrate this point, he told the audience to look at the numbers: CMS is one of the largest healthcare plans in the world, serving over 200 million Americans. But the organization itself is a fraction of the size of many private health insurance companies. Given this ratio of the number of employees to lives touched, Boehler told the audience that “each individual (employee) can do so much more in government due to the scale. Your individual drive will make a difference for the people here in the United States.”

Unleash your creativity to unlock new solutions

HHS Innovation Day

Government may seem like the last place to find creativity. But at Innovation Day, creativity was on full display. The eight teams who were part of the HHS Ignite Accelerator, our three month internal incubator program, brought creativity to the main stage. An NIH team sent beach balls flying into the audience to illustrate infectious happiness. A CDC team donned lab coats and safety goggles to perform a skit on laboratory safety in low-resource countries. And all the teams told compelling stories about their end-users’ needs and a creative solution to address their problems. The teams illustrated that creative and curious mindsets are critical for unlocking new approaches to persistent problems. 

Don’t go it alone- there’s a community out there to support you

HHS Innovation Day

It’s hard to innovate in government. Risk averse cultures and siloed environments can make public sector innovators feel isolated and alone. To help connect staff to a larger network of like-minded peers, Innovation Day included our first ever innovation fair featuring 30 exhibitors from HHS and across federal government. The exhibitors showcased innovative projects like robotic process automation as well as tools, trainings, and resources for public servants aiming to do innovative work.  So don’t go it alone – know that there’s a vibrant, collaborative community of public sector innovators in government to support you.  

Learn more about HHS Innovation Day from our Highlights Video

You can relive all the speakers from our main-stage portion here.

Posted In: 
Health IT