Greetings from Philadelphia and the final day of The 2017 OPEN MINDS Technology & Informatics Institute. It was three power-packed days focused on new and neat technology—smartphone GPS monitoring for addiction treatment, wearables and invisibles, data integration platforms for improving care coordination and clinical decision support, telehealth, online therapies, care coordination platforms, new EHR scheduling functionality, new dashboard tools, and more. At the end of my three-day tech immersion, I was struck by the big gap between the potential of these tools to improve services for consumers and the reality of technology adoption in health and human services.
The reasons for slow tech adoption in the health and human service space is something we’ve written about before—Digital Tech Cutting Edge – Moving From Smartphone App To Wearable, Tech Best Practice: Planning, Budgeting & Change Management, and The 3 Market Challenges We Aren’t Prepared For. But in the face of changing reimbursement and financial landscape—and new competition—I think tech adoption is moving from a compliance necessity to a strategic imperative. That was the focus of my closing keynote today, Leveraging Technology For Strategic Advantage: Why Technology Will Be The Key To Future Competitive Advantage—the need for executive teams to rethink “where tech fits.”
Changing health plan and consumer preferences, and new tech-enabled competition, are having a negative impact on the margins of traditional specialty provider organizations. And, addressing the “disruptions” to service delivery as usual by leveraging the power of new technologies is the strategic solution for many organizations.
The challenge for most executive teams is two-fold. How to develop a plan for future market positioning and sustainability, and how to develop a path from their current positioning (and tech infrastructure) to where they want to go. Where to start? I agree with our opening keynote speaker, Andrew Wright, the Vice President, Digital Medicine for Otsuka America Pharmaceutical (don’t miss his information-packed presentation, Remaking Health Care With Wearable Technology & Digital Health – A View To The Future): it’s all about the end user. Starting with what consumers want and providing a service of greater value than what the competition offers is the key.
Proactive service line-specific portfolio analysis—based on tracking of market share, projected changes in revenue and margin, customer perceptions and segmentation, competitive offerings and customers perceptions of competitors—is critical market intelligence for responding to the market. Then executive teams need to use that portfolio analysis to make management decisions about what services to invest in, which to terminate, which to repackage, and what new services to develop.
With those decisions made, a best practice implementation plan that is informed by obsessive attention to customer performance data is the path forward. This “customer obsession” (made famous by Amazon, see 2016 Letter To Shareholders and A CMO’s View: Amazon’s Neil Lindsay Says Customer Obsession Is Core To Company’s DNA)—is the cultural change needed in the increasingly value-focused health and human service market. The words of wisdom from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos—”I’m talking about data. Get it. Use it. Being customer obsessed isn’t so much about just thinking about the end customer, as it is about understanding their needs and behaviors. Intentions are good, but data is better” (see 7 Customer Service Lessons from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos).
In the health and human service field, we’re moving from an era of technology as an expense to technology as an investment. The question is: What technology? The simple answer is, the technology that increases consumer value enough to have a financial return to the organization. It’s complex decisionmaking, but improving consumer value is the “north star” in that decisionmaking. I like the words of advice from Theodore Leavitt, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole” (see What Customers Want from Your Products). It’s the solution that matters.
If you couldn’t join us this year, be sure to stay tuned as we continue our coverage of the great conversations at this year’s institute. And be sure to check out our archived coverage on Twitter @openmindscircle – #OMTechnology.