April 2018 | Point of View

How healthcare companies can start their digital transformation

Finding a practical path toward success in a digital world

How healthcare companies can start their digital transformation

Evolving consumer expectations, driven in large part by digital technology, are reshaping every industry.

Healthcare is no exception. Today’s healthcare consumers crave connection and want instant contact and feedback – just as they have in interactions with other industries such as retail and financial services.

The widespread emergence of connected devices enables them to interact with their healthcare providers and insurers via “non-traditional” channels. For example, our 2017 signature research, No More Waiting Room: The Future of the Healthcare Customer Experience found that 86 percent of healthcare consumers who have access to online portals use these platforms for some or all of their communication with their healthcare provider. Even more, 91 percent, use mobile apps when available.

But portals and mobile apps are just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to digital transformation of the industry. With doctors now able to monitor heart failure patients remotely via implantable monitoring devices and insurance companies able to deliver personalized incentives for healthy behaviors by accessing fitness app/tracker data, the impact of digital technology on healthcare is becoming rapidly profound.  

The benefits of a digital transformation in healthcare

In the future, healthcare companies will find themselves winning or losing consumers based on the quality of digital interactions they offer. Our research found a clear link between consumer satisfaction and the availability of digital communication channels. Consumers awarded a Net Promoter Score® of 13 to providers that offer an online portal, compared to a -28 NPS for those who do not. Similarly, providers that offer a mobile app earned a 28 NPS compared to -28 among those without an app.

This presents a daunting challenge for an industry already strained by evolving and uncertain regulation…and already significantly behind the curve on technology innovation and collaboration efforts that improve consumer experience. In our study, 85 percent of executives said they are not sure their company has the technology in place to advance customer experience, and more than half (54 percent) aren’t confident they have the processes to evolve that experience.

The challenge of knowing how and where to start

Like their counterparts in all industries, healthcare executives are feeling the pressure to do “something,” but many admit they don’t really know what to do – or even what “digital transformation” means. To make digital a little more tangible, we refer to it as applied technology that changes business conditions, creates an adaptive culture, and uses data to scale and grow the business.

We typically offer two pieces of advice to those stymied by the mandate to go digital now or risk survival:

First, take a deep breath. “Digital transformation” is a rapidly evolving mandate with big, nebulous, new concepts. With time, it will come into sharper focus – and until it does, the best course is to relax (a bit) and find ways to begin translating an imposing idea into a practical course of action.

And to do that, we find it is helpful to think of digital as less of a “thing” and more of a way of doing things. Key tenets include establishing a strategy for a digital world (note that we’re not saying a “digital strategy”) and digital DNA into your business. To put yourself in that frame of mind, consider how Amazon might transform your business. It would use digital technology to run better operations, facilitate the ability to adapt to change faster, and create value and scale from data.

Four keys to a successful digital transformations in healthcare

Most healthcare companies already have their hands full simply trying to run a better business, so a prudent place to start is by applying a few key principles:

  • Choose a process that your organization already has targeted for improvement. Healthcare-specific core processes such as claims adjudication or billing are often good candidates for digital solutions because they offer the potential for tangible improvement in growth, cost savings, consumer lift and employee experience. We call this a “virtuous cycle.”

  • Only fund initiatives that unlock new data and capabilities. For example, in our research report, we highlighted the example of a healthcare firm that spent $100,000 on candy for its lobbies while ignoring scheduling and billing issues that had a much bigger impact on customer satisfaction – or lack thereof.

  • Pick a concept that reflects one of the key tenets of digital transformation, such as using data differently or accelerating the speed at which you operate. We often find it useful to start with the idea that, in the future, every company, regardless of its business, will be a software company.

  • Put your consumer (patient or insured) at the center of the effort. Think about the healthcare consumer lifecycle and where in that lifecycle you can employ new digital technology to have the greatest impact on experience.


Read the full article in Seattle Business Magazine.

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