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An Iterative Approach to Digital Transformation

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The concept of Digital Transformation in healthcare is not new as of 2020. Health systems small and large have been making plans to increase the presence of digital solutions across their enterprise to reshape care delivery for some time. This has been primarily driven by the rise of consumerism in healthcare… until now. 

It’s been a wild year. The COVID-19 pandemic has acted as the true watershed moment for digital transformation in healthcare. With so many healthcare consumers spending less time in public, either due to legislative regulations or fear of the coronavirus, patients are not activating to in-person care at the rate they have traditionally.

As such, the same challenges patients have always faced in navigating their care and the care delivery system are being exacerbated. Patients don’t know about all the care services available to them (especially the new services that were stood up quickly at their height of the COVID-19 spike) and even if they do, they don’t know where to go for each of their unique needs. On top of that, patients are now reticent to get in-person due to pandemic-related fear and uncertainty. Patient outcomes are worsening, chronic and acute conditions are going untreated, the patient experience is devolving, Health systems need new, convenient and digital ways to both engage and treat patients to reverse the aforementioned trend and get patients back on track.

This “perfect storm” has also served to compress the digital transformation timelines of so many healthcare providers.

Without the luxury of time, how can you successfully achieve digital transformation in a compressed timeline? Here are the 5 tips to creating a Digital Transformation Roadmap that you can execute quickly!

1. Re-assess your current solutions and roadmap: The key to building a successful digital infrastructure is scalability and interoperability. Quickly evaluate the digital solutions in which you’ve already invested. Questions to ask:

  • Do your digital solutions tend to be fragmented, dysfunctional and only solve a single problem?
  • Can one tool meet multiple needs while nimble enough to evolve with you over time?
  • Do your digital tools provide value for both the patient and health system?
  • Does the vendor have a strategic and scalable vision for your partnership?
  • Are current point solutions making more work for the organization than less?
  • Does your roadmap drive value across the organization to all service lines and business units?
  • Is there a hard ROI?

Once your assessment is complete, adjust your roadmap to reflect any necessary changes.

2. Decide on your Digital Transformation Pillars: The best way to define the core tenants of your roadmap is to create clearly stated goals that align with your organizational mission, vision and values. This will act as your guide through the next 2 steps and help you secure stakeholder buy-in across the organization.

3. Prioritize: Although your digital roadmap must be accelerated, you can’t do everything at once. You need to pick a place or a few places to start. Now that your digital transformation pillars are agreed upon, it’s time to put them to use. There are two things to think about here. First, you should prioritize implementing digital solutions that will have the greatest measurable impact on your stated goals. Second, whatever solutions you start with should lay the foundation for future innovation and transformation. Remember… nimble, scalable, interoperable.

4. Build vs. Buy?: Once you’ve prioritized your initiatives, it’s time to decide how you are going to execute. There are benefits to both approaches. Key things to think about are:

  • Speed – Can you build what you need fast enough to meet my goals, or would you be better served buying a solution that can be implemented quickly?
  • Operationalize – If you build a digital solution, the work doesn’t stop there. Do you have the staff and resources to support, manage, and administer your digital solution over time?
  • Expertise – Does your team possess the requisite expertise to make building a certain digital solution the most effective? If there is a small gap to fill, making a hire and building might be your best bet. If the gap is wide, partnering with a vendor who possesses that expertise might be the way to go.

5. Measure Engagement to help inform your future decisions: Your digital ecosystem and strategy are like living organisms, constantly changing and evolving. Once you’ve begun, it’s imperative that you measure patient interactions and engagement as patient behaviors are always changing. This continuous change has never been more clear after what we’ve seen with COVID-19. If you are able to measure how your digital solutions are impacting your stated goals, it will help validate your roadmap and help inform future strategic decisions. This is absolutely critical to building an effective roadmap that is viable in the long-term.

The COVID-19 pandemic has fully displayed the value of technology and digital, but has unfortunately made an already difficult and lengthy transformation even harder. Not only are you being forced to accelerate your timelines, but budgets are being tightened while healthcare consumer behavior is changing in ways we have never seen. Because of this, digital transformation has never been so important and will only continue to advance even after the COVID-19 pandemic becomes less of a threat.

Digital transformation may seem overwhelming with different advancements, challenges and trends, but following these 5 steps will help you accelerate your roadmap as necessary. It will also help you create a roadmap that will achieve your organizational goals while providing you the foundation and flexibility to meet future challenges. When the next COVID-19 comes around, you’ll be prepared.

Connect with Upfront for more insights on our approach to digital transformation and patient engagement.

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