Anything digital is in vogue today. Healthcare, being a contact first industry, adopted the phenomenon of digital transformation to sustainably reinvent itself in the era of patient-centred connected care. However, a transformation becomes ambitious in an industry where human lives are at stake when it is related to one’s health, a change’s effectiveness and application, goes through extra scrutiny. According to a latest HIMSS media research, digital transformation is a top priority for healthcare organizations but thus far only less than 10 percent have executed a full digital strategy. Also, when it comes to the pace of digital transformation, the launch of the Mayo Clinic Digital Initiative and the announcement of a $100 million digital initiative by Partners Healthcare indicate a wide and growing gap between leaders and the rest of the healthcare sector.
The main challenge lies in integrating digital mindset into the DNA of an organization’s business model. As Forrester analyst Brendan Witcher said that, “Many companies miss the mark with digital transformation because they look to technology to create transformation, when in fact genuine, sustainable change has more to do with culture, organization, and evolving measurements of success than tech itself.” With first-hand experience of working on digital transformation projects, there are 5 moves that healthcare organizations need to make during digital transformation journey.
1. Alter digital missions over time
Leaders must have a strong digital vision and clearly defined supporting digital missions for the organization. These supporting missions should evolve over time as technology continues to advance and improve. Gianni Giacomelli, business leader for digital solutions at Genpact, believes, "For many companies, the corporate vision ends up ossifying itself because of the inability to scale beyond the first successes”. Leaders can keep the vision abstract at a higher level but should provide flexibility to adjust the supporting missions at execution level. That will guide teams in taking decisions and executing digital goals in complex and stressful situations across the lifecycle of the project.
2. Focus more on people
For digital project planning, the people-side of changes necessary at the organization level are often under-addressed. According to Brendon Buckley, healthcare technology director at Johnson Controls, “Integrating people and vision is harder and way more critical than integrating technologies”. Filling gaps with resources equipped with the digital acumen, knowledge, skills, experience, and inclination is a difficult and time-consuming process. As a result, timelines are missed and often have an unfavourable impact on the pace and quality of work. Thus, the realistic resource planning with far-sighted contingency in place, becomes critical for smooth and successful execution.
3. Make vendors your partners
Any digital transformation project involves multiple vendors which bring together people with specialized skill sets, experience and attitude. In such complex ecosystem, it’s critical for the organization to treat all vendors as its partner and involve them in key strategic decision and planning stages. This will help organizations keep their digital project on track, ensure KPIs are met, and also avoid teams from operating in silos or take any unilateral decisions.
4. Manage project scope creep
It is common knowledge that about 50-60% of business requirements pass through the actual implementation phase. Reasons may vary but final product may be different than what is envisioned. Project scope creep occurs mainly because of two reasons – change in marketplace/customer preferences and lack of synchronization between multiple stakeholders. The first reason is unavoidable but second one is something that organization can easily avoid. The organizations need to ensure that the right stakeholders review project requirements and the appropriate decision makers approve them to minimize scope creep and get maximum requirements implemented during initial build phases.
5. Incremental transition plan
As stated by Harold F. Wolf, president and CEO of HIMSS, “A change of culture to be the biggest hurdle in the industry’s digital transformation”. Adopting an increment model for transition will allow people to adjust with changes slowly and steadily and plan their lives around work accordingly. There will be significant resistance, noise, discomfort and distress in the organization, but leaders need to overcome these challenges and instigate a clear transition plan for the whole organization.
Digital transformation is a complicated and risky venture. When executed appropriately, it can lead to exceptional business outcomes, but when done incorrectly can prove costly and agonizing for an organization. Successful digital transformations can enable healthcare organizations to create a patient centric ecosystem, drive value-based care and accelerate innovation in healthcare.