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Columbus Regional Health


Columbus Regional Health (CRH) is a community healthcare system in Columbus, Indiana. Their flagship hospital is a county-owned not for profit that provided a quarter million visits in 2016. It is also the safety net provider for the Medicaid and uninsured communities.

CRH set about creating an innovation center to develop programs that improve the delivery of patient care, all without adding to their overhead cost structure. After studying design and innovation thought leaders, they developed their own CRH frameworks and process to gain insights that Lean Sigma and traditional marketing research tools just don't get at. It is now their approach to specific strategic problems and projects both big and small.

CRH says of the paradigm shift “Design Thinking tools and techniques have given us both a better way to understand our patients and their families, and a better way to problem solve. Customer-centered in healthcare has really meant designed for the provider as customer, not the patient. It is a significant shift in thinking to design from the patient's point of view.”

Putting their new insights into action, they developed “WellConnect” a new model customer contact center that connects people to the services they need helping them make sense out of a fragmented system. The CRH ‘VIMCare Clinic’ is wrap-around service for a population with Medicaid or no insurance that is designed to address the patient's immediate healthcare need as well as other social determinants of health, including connections to community and social services.


  • The projects led by the Innovation Center Team have had a positive impact on the bottom line of more than one million dollars per year.
  • “WellConnect” Connection Specialists generated more than $1.5 million in new revenue last year.
  • Recruiting physicians and key staff is easier as the organization is seen to have a commitment and capacity for innovation.

Today, Design Thinking tools and techniques have given CRH a better way to understand patients and their families, and a better way to innovate.

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