How can you modernize and create lasting change in an industry that’s burdened by outdated systems and unproductive processes? It’s a question many are working to solve.
The constellation of AI technologies (including computer vision, natural language processing and deep learning, among others) can be transformational technology for health care. Other technologies like ambient computing, the internet of things (IoT), blockchain, virtual reality and augmented reality are in their nascency but nonetheless hold promise as well. Of course, the risks of “hype vs. reality” and fulfilling lofty expectations remain.
If you have plans to explore or implement emerging technology solutions in 2020, here are five tips for you to consider:
1. Know your audience
Given the personal nature of health care, all organizations are looking to optimize their processes, procedures and systems to make sure they are leading edge. When thinking about your business problem, focus on and fully understand the people who are being impacted by the issue.
Is it a clinician who is tired, stressed and overworked? Is it a busy claims representative who is constantly referencing new and changing criteria to adhere to? Is it an elderly consumer, who has trouble using a computer, looking for a provider?
Before implementing changes to workflows, take the time to walk in the shoes of the people who will interact with this new advancement. Ideally, the technology itself will be invisible to the clinicians, consumers or end users — they’ll only notice the benefits.
2. Educate yourself
We can do so much more with technology today than we could a decade ago, so I can’t stress this point enough: Carve out time to get educated on new and emerging tech. This knowledge is vital for understanding how to reduce costs, improve outcomes, enhance the experience of patients and providers, and often, create a competitive business advantage.
Embracing the art of the possible means realizing what’s possible today, setting up the best preparations for the tech advancements of tomorrow, and not letting perfect be the enemy of good. Work with your technology team and run immersion sessions using a Shark Tank-esque approach. You as a business stakeholder provide a set of goals and objectives for your area, and members of your leadership team are the “sharks.” Technology teams have 7-15 minutes to present solutions.
Not only are you accomplishing the goal of improving familiarity with technology options — you’re helping develop your teams as well.
3. (Health care) Buyer beware
Do your research and realize that technology sellers will often cast their products under the light of the latest technology. There are different waves, stages and levels of each technology type. So, it’s important to do your homework and verify you are getting the most suitable, future-proof technology and applicable solutions for your organization.
Also, be aware that many technology vendors might place a ‘health care’ wrapper around their horizontal technology. The health care industry is complex and constantly changing. Find a company that is embedded in health systems and understands technology from the human perspective.
4. Don’t be afraid to learn from setbacks (They’re just another way to iterate and continuously learn)
Let me share a story from my own past. I worked on a project in a Southeast Asian country that required support from the government, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the local medical community. We completed an initial assessment, lined up all the parties and everyone seemed on board.
As we moved forward by creating an early proof of concept and piloting, we began to receive less support from our stakeholders. It turned out that we hadn’t done the appropriate human-centered research at the beginning to build a system that met everyone’s needs (in fact, that project was an inspiration for Tip #1: know your audience).
In our next country implementation, we made a detailed map identifying key players, their wants and needs and the future decisions they would face. This next pilot was successful.
5. Create a change management plan (and hold to it)
You have to create a plan for change that engages each person who will be impacted by the tech implementation. As you create, ensure you think about and incorporate all the touch points in health care. In this industry, one business change can cascade into many different effects.Positive, meaningful change requires a thoughtful perspective of the complex health care system and the individuals who work within it. Develop a plan that addresses those complexities and fits your business culture. Then, hold your organization to it. Change management requires collaboration, active listening and leadership — choose your change agents wisely.
To learn more about the impact emerging tech is having on the health system, check out: “Pushing health care forward with technology”, a new webcast featuring Gartner Senior Research Director, Mandi Bishop, and me.
About the Author:
Kerrie Holley, technical fellow at Optum, focuses on applying leading-edge technology — like AI, IoT, genomics and blockchain — to solve some of health care’s biggest challenges. For more than 30 years, he has contributed significantly to the technology landscape and is putting his skills to work to help people live healthier lives and make health care work better for everyone.