How Healthcare Providers Can Succeed in Digital Transformation

October 28, 2018

Contributor: Susan Moore

Healthcare providers have strong digital business ambitions but must overcome a large capabilities gap to succeed.

The CIO of a hospital group has been asked by the CEO to develop a digital care business case to improve the lives of patients with chronic conditions. This will impact the way the hospital delivers ambulatory, inpatient, outpatient and day surgery services; patient record access; and telemedicine. Although a growing number of clinicians and managers support the idea, there’s no overall strategy or plan for the future.

This is a common scenario for many healthcare providers, according to Mark E. Gilbert, Senior Director, Analyst at Gartner. Speaking at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia today, he said business leaders are looking to CIOs for ways to increase the success rate of innovation and business transformation initiatives.

“ Only 52% of healthcare organizations have a digital dexterity program as part of their digital business strategy”

“Providers recognize the health and business benefits of delivering care virtually, yet a significant gap exists between their digital business goals and their ability to execute, particularly from a workforce skills perspective,” Gilbert said.

Read more: Overcome Digital Business Roadblocks

Improve your organization’s ability to execute

As a healthcare CIO, you have a critically important role to play in improving your organization’s ability to execute on its digital ambitions.

1. Lead your organization’s definition of digital business ambition

Providers are under pressure to cut costs and improve clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction. They’re undertaking dozens, if not hundreds, of digital projects with these optimization objectives every year. The healthcare industry is also a fertile ground for digital transformation.

Many providers are undertaking initiatives to create and deliver entirely new digital products and services, or create new business models capable of making money in new ways.

“Providers are blurring the boundaries of optimization and transformation goals, causing confusion in the race to achieve their digital ambitions,” said Gilbert. “The role of the CIO is to lead the organization in defining its digital business ambition in an environment of sometimes contradictory ambitions. Are you trying to optimize or transform the way you do business? CIOs should take the lead in setting the vision, business goals and appropriate measures of success.”

2. Identify, measure and communicate the gap between ambition and capabilities

Most healthcare executives now recognize the danger of disruption from digital giants, including the risks to business and operating models and consumer relationships. Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Google have all made major moves into digital health in recent years, with varying degrees of success.

Managing perceptions of disruptive business risk and guiding executive expectations of appropriate responses has become a daily job for CIOs.

Revisit your defined goals, then identify, measure and communicate the gap in your organization’s ability to execute digital initiatives, so expectations are realistic, transparent and achievable. What skills, resources and partnerships do you need to meet executive expectations?

3. Apply digital business and IT platform best practices

The deployment of digital technology platforms should be a top investment to close the capability gap. Healthcare providers have now recognized data and analytics platforms as having the highest potential for competitive differentiation. Providers should also turn their attention to customer experience and IoT platforms, both essential for developing customer relationships and providing virtual care.

New platform business models are also important to enable coordinated collaborative care among an expanding number of partners. Many healthcare providers are focusing on collaboration and orchestration within complex business ecosystems.

For transformational ideas, however, consider investments that enable co-creation of new product and service offerings with ecosystem partners, or that efficiently match producers and consumers, such as the right healthcare professional with the right patient in both face-to-face and virtual care settings.

4. Begin a programmatic workforce skills improvement initiative

For healthcare digital transformation, make digital dexterity a top priority. Your organization’s current workforce must be trained and motivated to gain the requisite skills needed for digital business.

To boost workforce skills, establish programs to help staff exploit existing and emerging technologies for better business outcomes. Do so by investing in improvements in all three digital dexterity components — technology, engagement and diversity.

Only 52% of healthcare organizations have a digital dexterity program as part of their digital business strategy, compared with 72% of financial services firms and retailers.

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