It’s hard to believe it’s been only 60 days since our 2017 OPEN MINDS Technology & Informatics Institute. And in that 60 days, the health and human service space has seen a number of developments that will challenge the fundamentals of high-value service delivery, including:
- CVS Health announced plans to acquire and merge with health insurer Aetna in a deal valued at $77 billion (see CVS Health To Buy Aetna For $77 Billion).
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Abilify MyCite (aripiprazole tablets with sensor), the first drug in the United States with a digital ingestion tracking system (see FDA Approves Abilify MyCite® (Aripiprazole Tablets With Sensor), A Pill With Digital Sensor To Track Oral Antipsychotic Ingestion).
- Ascension Health (Ascension) and Providence St. Joseph Health are in talks to merge. If the merger moves forward, they will become the largest hospital chain in the United States (see Ascension & Providence St. Joseph In Talks To Form Largest Hospital Operator In The U.S.).
These breaking developments made the strategic advice from Andrew Wright, the Vice President, Digital Medicine for Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, in his opening keynote, Remaking Health Care With Wearable Technology & Digital Health – A View To The Future, even more important to organizational strategy and sustainability. My big takeaway from his presentation? It’s all about the data!
The technology used in service delivery doesn’t matter—but the collection and analysis of consumer-specific and aggregate health data is essential. Relying on consumer engagement for data collection is not a great long-term strategy. Consumer convenience with passive data collection is essential to success in using analytics to support population health management. APIs for data consolidation and algorithms to sort that data are keys to success.
The role of technology in the financing and delivery of health and human services has shifted dramatically in a decade. First, consumers are now tech-forward in their personal lives—and in their expectations of interaction with health care professionals. According to Mr. Wright, consumers want that engagement, but current tech has had limited success at providing it. First there is the desire for tech options, including 64% of consumers who want to see a health care professional using video, 70% who would prefer that option over a face-to-face visit; and 70% who would trust an automatic device for their whole health care experience.
Second, technology companies are positioning themselves as the new competitors in the health and human service space. Mr. Wright observed that the five largest publicly-traded companies in the United States are now Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook—and they are all investing in health-related products, programs, and services. For more on his perspectives on this new competition, see my piece, Can You Teach A Fish To Climb A Tree?
In the face of new competition that could take market share away from current service organizations for new market entrants. What is the approach that executive teams of those current service organizations should take to meet that challenge, and to reinvent services harnessing the power of technology to reduce costs and improve convenience? Mr. Wright offered a five-step approach:
- Start with a user-centric service design that is built for a specific consumer group with a specific need, and technology to match—Provide “control” for consumers in conceptualizing your tech-enabled service. Conduct iterative testing and strip out unnecessary functionalities and features that make the service less convenient.
- Add context to the consumer information provided—This includes meaningful insights for the patient-professional interactions that increase consumer engagement. Key to this is facilitating multi-directional interaction in the consumer’s service delivery; among consumers, caregivers, and professionals.
- Develop robust partnerships—The strategic issue is less about doing everything and more about developing (and being part of) a consumer service ecosystem. The goal is seamless integration of
various sources of information that bring value and insights for consumers. Easy is everything.
- Develop an organizational culture of continuous innovation—Understand that customer expectations (along with medical science and technology) will continue to change.
How best to integrate current and emerging technologies into current health and human service delivery systems is a matter of strategy, data literacy, technological aptitude, and culture. What we do know is that the competitive landscape and the technology “solutions” are changing and will continue to change. That is a new reality for executive teams in the field. For more on increasing your consumers’ engagement, check out these resources from the OPEN MINDS Industry Library:
- Increased Consumer Tech Engagement = Success
- How Technology Is Changing Case Management
- Digital Tech Cutting Edge – Moving From Smartphone App To Wearable
- Less Consumer Education Demands More Consumer Engagement
- Solving For Engagement With Technology
And for more on making your next big tech adoption, join my colleague Ken Carr on June 6, 2018 at The 2018 OPEN MINDS Strategy & Innovation Institute for his session, “Integrating Digital Apps Into Your Service Lines.”