Director of Innovation | Cook Children’s Health Care System
Kirk Leitch does not have a predecessor to look to in his newly created position as director of innovation at Cook Children’s Health Care System; however, he is up for the challenge. Formerly the organization’s director of IT, Leitch’s career has evolved to meet industry needs.
“Cook Children’s understands that the landscape for healthcare will be changing, and we as healthcare professionals may have to be able to do more with less,” he said. “Innovation will be the key to being successful in the future.”
Leitch is not alone in his quest for healthcare innovation. Externally, he has looked to the innovation team at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester for inspiration. Internally, Leitch works with physician thought leaders and a supportive administration that keeps his forward-thinking job moving in the right direction.
Innovation is such a priority for the organization that plans for a clinic devoted to innovation are on the agenda. Leitch said the innovation clinic will be a fully functional primary care clinic, but will also be a facility to cultivate new ideas and accommodate cutting-edge technologies without disrupting provided clinical care.
“It will be a place where we can try new pieces of hardware or software and look at different clinic setups,” he said. “Through strategic partnerships with our vendors, we’ll be able to test out new technologies to determine whether or not we need to look at widespread adoption across all our clinics.”
Aside from new technologies and ideas, innovation can also be defined by reshaping existing processes, such as increasing efficiency in operations. “Innovation takes many forms,” Leitch said. “As healthcare and medical insurance changes, our physicians and their staff will likely be asked to see more patients in a given day. We have to figure out ways to streamline processes. Maybe that means automating the intake process, speeding up checkout or providing tools to the physicians and staff that help them save time.”
Leitch said he learned valuable lessons while at Baylor that he has applied to his work ethic.
“Two of the most important things I learned at Baylor that have stuck with me throughout my career are hard work and willingness to embrace change,” he said. “Everyone looks for people who perform at a high level, but to also find people who have an aptitude for being a change agent within their organization while accepting changes in the marketplace, that can be a very powerful combination.”
Baylor continues to stay in the family for Leitch, who also has two siblings that graduated from the university. His daughter, Rachel, is currently a sophomore in the business school who plans to focus on music and entertainment marketing. Leitch advises current students, including his daughter, to keep a clear focus in order to be successful professionals.
“Keep your goals ahead of you and do what is necessary to achieve them within the framework of your faith and guiding principles,” he said. “Inevitably, that will teach you to have a good work ethic and be able to handle change.”