Becoming an Innovative Company Requires Time and Space for New Ideas
Innovation is a muscle that has to be flexed. That’s why CoverMyMeds hosts biannual Innovation Days — so employees can dedicate time and space to exercise their creativity. This season’s event took place Nov. 8-12, culminating with 10 ideas that advanced to the final stage, covering a variety of ideas from employees across the organization.
Employees are encouraged to be innovative and asked to think outside the box. But it’s not always easy — or simple — to do so, let alone allocate hours of the day to brainstorm big-picture ideas when you’re hyper-focused on completing your weekly to-do list.
That’s why CoverMyMeds hosts dedicated Innovation Days twice per year. What began as a one-off hackathon for a software development team in 2017 has since expanded to become a company-wide, week-long event for all employees. After all, innovation isn't an accident. It's something that must be attended to regularly, like a plant.
A peek into November’s Innovation Days event
This season’s Innovation Days — the 12th event so far — took place Nov. 8-12, with 23 initial pitches and 10 final presentations. Participants were allowed to step away from their daily duties for the week to recruit team members and solidify their ideas.
To help improve the final presentations, CoverMyMeds offered virtual coaching sessions for the first time, which provided employees with an opportunity to gain confidence in their public speaking skills.
Those coaching sessions were planned in collaboration with GiveBackHack, a civic and social organization in Columbus that partners with local companies, foundations, organizations, entrepreneurs and innovators to launch sustainable social impact solutions in communities across the country.
Notably, GiveBackHack’s founder, Suzy Bureau, is a former CoverMyMeds employee.
“We had three teams sign up for a coaching session prior to final presentations — two of those teams ended up winning,” said Josh Applebaum, director of channel operations at CoverMyMeds. “Regardless of the outcome, we wanted every employee to walk away from the experience with new skills they can apply in their career.”
Regardless of the outcome, we wanted every employee to walk away from the experience with new skills they can apply in their career
A variety of innovative ideas to progress our goal of helping people
Like in years past, this year’s Innovation Day ideas ranged widely.
While a few employees proposed updates to our electronic prior authorization (ePA) platform, others offered plans to attract and retain top talent. One innovator even pitched the idea of exploring virtual reality to enhance employee engagement and team collaboration — an enticing proposal considering many CoverMyMeds employees choose to work remotely.
One employee who’s been particularly involved with Innovation Days during her three years at CoverMyMeds is Lacey Short, an account coordinator. In November 2021, her team’s idea was to implement additional filters and add a “latest touch” function within one of our technology applications to eliminate duplicate work — an idea that ultimately won.
“Not only does Innovation Days provide an opportunity to innovate, but it also allows employees to meet new people and explore professional development opportunities,” Lacey said. “Innovation Days are incredibly important for morale, and they remind us that every department plays a part in helping people get the medicine they need to live healthier lives.”
Innovation Days ... remind us that every department plays a part in helping people get the medicine they need to live healthier lives.
Engineering hackathon turned company-wide event
Josh founded the inaugural Innovation Days hackathon in collaboration with Agile Coach Tyler Overton.
“When I started at CoverMyMeds, our software development team was always busy doing heads-down work to fulfill commitments to our clients, which didn’t always provide our engineers with enough flexibility to innovate,” Josh said. “When you hire really smart and talented people like CoverMyMeds does, that rigidity can be limiting.”
The first Innovation Days event was Josh and Tyler’s solution to that challenge, and it has expanded every year to encourage employees from across the company to participate — no matter what department they work in.
Over the past four years, there have been about 40 winning Innovation Days ideas, with no two exactly the same.
“The best, most innovative ideas don’t always come from the same type of employee — and definitely not always from the top-down,” Josh said. “For example, an account coordinator who spends hours on the phone with our end users understands our technology better than anyone, so they’re equipped to provide suggestions for process improvements and technology tweaks.”
The best, most innovative ideas don’t always come from the same type of employee — and definitely not always from the top-down.
Any idea can be innovative — not just technology
Beyond process improvements and technology tweaks — of which there have been dozens, according to Josh — one cultural improvement project to come from a past Innovation Days was ACES, our Alternative Commuting and Environmental Sustainability employee resource group. What began as a bid to improve carpooling to work has morphed into an ongoing push for socially and environmentally responsible practices at CoverMyMeds.
In other words — any idea can be innovative. Tyler agrees.
“CoverMyMeds doesn’t necessarily hire people to solve sustainability challenges, but our employees have lives outside the workplace and passions they want to pursue,” Tyler said. “Our Innovation Days go beyond technology to encourage employees to assess their environment as a whole and discover new ways to improve it.”
Our Innovation Days go beyond technology to encourage employees to assess their environment as a whole and discover new ways to improve it.
Innovation deserves its own time and space
As Tyler puts it, innovation is a muscle that has to be flexed. But companies can’t simply ask their employees to be innovative. Instead, it’s essential to dedicate time and space for ideas to bloom, while removing barriers for employees to intermingle thoughts and share perspectives between technical and non-technical workers.
“As we look to plan future Innovation Days, we’re especially eager to get even more team members involved,” Tyler said. “By incorporating diversity of thought from across the company into Innovation Days, we can pave the way for even more dynamic conversations and game-changing ideas than ever before.”
Want to get innovative at CoverMyMeds? We’re hiring! Browse our open positions on our careers page.
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