The Road to Digital Transformation for Healthcare
By Vinayambika Kidiyur, Senior Vice President and Global Delivery Head—Healthcare, Cognizant
The healthcare industry has been going through a major transformation in the last couple of years. We have seen healthcare providers across the world increasingly adopting new and innovative technologies. Just in the past decade, we have seen robotics augmenting doctors’ “black bags” with technologies such as Da Vinci Surgical System or remote presence robots helping medical staff to “virtually” consult with patients and their families.
However, healthcare organizations must face new and necessary business change along with that of technology to meaningfully capitalize on the promise of the digital era. From unlocking the value of data analytics and placing a greater reliance on bots, to addressing security concerns and connecting a fragmented industry, there is hard work ahead for healthcare organizations. In fact, Cognizant’s study conducted jointly with the renowned economist Nouriel Roubini, revealed that healthcare players foresee a huge amount of work ahead in their digital strategies, with only one in ten executives saying they are even moderately ahead of their peers in other industries today when it comes to digitalization. So where should the healthcare organizations begin their journey?
Delivering healthcare into the future, the digital way
To reshape and transform the industry, all stakeholders in the value chain—patients, providers, payers, and even pharmaceuticals and medical equipment providers— have a vested interest in hastening the digital business change.
While there is no single playbook for being digital, there is a growing set of lessons learned and best practices that organizations can leverage to navigate the digital shift. It is crucial to define a roadmap based on an enterprise-wide strategy and prioritized investments, but that is not all it takes - ‘being digital’ also requires a deep understanding of how digital initiatives will affect business operations. Here are some critical factors for healthcare payers and providers to consider while navigating the digital shift:
• Building strong digital governance
No organization wants a big pile of unintegrated “experiments’ that don’t lend themselves to industrialization and improve operations or outcomes.
Healthcare organizations must face new and necessary business change along with that of technology to meaningfully capitalize on the promise of the digital era
• Creating a culture of innovation
“Being digital” is not a one-time investment. Embedding innovation into the business culture – quickly – as well as rewarding innovators, is key to succeeding in the new digital economy. Fostering vastly improved healthcare at significantly improved prices in an economically sound way for all parties can seem really difficult. But it’s doable, and creating the right culture is crucial because committing to truly being digital requires a different way of doing things. Organisations could consider in-house innovation labs, “shark tanks” and hackathons, and leaning on new approaches from the external community of healthcare application developers.
• The platform becomes the process
From stalwarts such as Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Dignity Health, to Silicon Valley behemoths such as Google, the explosion of healthcare venture capital investment is creating a host of innovative solutions. With this level of activity, it is difficult for any organization to out-innovate the market. Hence, harnessing leading-edge solutions to optimize the end-to-end consumer experience is a must. A platform-based approach to digitization is, therefore, a critical underpinning.
• Increasing IT responsiveness
Digital initiatives require new IT leadership and skills. Investing in training and/or hiring new categories of talent, such as data scientists or human-centred experience designers, must be part of the roadmap from day one. Agile software delivery and new approaches such as DevOps, which foster cross-departmental integration and iterative collaboration between development teams and business operations, will advance digital’s contribution to business value.
Change is coming and digital will do more than just connecting the dots
The time is ripe for the digital transformation of the healthcare industry by embracing new technologies and creating a new vision to drive, guide, quantify and sustain the gains realized from rapid digital evolution. While healthcare organizations and governments across the world are setting goals to shape strategies in the healthcare space, it is still a long road ahead. By 2020, digital will do more than just connecting the dot but also closing gaps and improving the satisfaction and outcomes for patients and physicians. The work ahead requires a strong vision balanced with practical execution and above all, the ability to predict what the future will bring and prepare for it. The need for good health has one remedy, and its name is “digital”.