Some of the most interesting work I’ve done over the past few months is helping executive teams develop a technology strategy. I find the analytics and informatics part of the strategy development to be pretty straightforward. There are two key questions to answer in order to get started:
- What do you need to measure and manage to be competitive?
- What is the most effective and efficient way of getting that information?
The analysis and return-on-investment (ROI) modeling is complicated, but it’s a linear process.
Developing a strategy for treatment technologies, on the other hand, is much more complicated. In our current market, technology needs to extend into the service delivery process. There are myriad new clinical tech offerings in the market, and selecting which ones will give your organization the competitive advantage can be a challenge. From a broad strategy perspective, there are some key performance attributes to consider, including cost reduction, improved customer experience, response to specific current client needs and desires, and strategic market positioning. These considerations flow from your overall organizational strategy and market positioning/competitive analysis.
But from that point, the complexity seems exponential. There are just so many technology options to choose from. To approach this, we’ve created a nomenclature for grouping the technology options. First, by role in the service delivery process. Second, by the consumer interface with the service — facilitation of “live” service, consumer clinical decision support, e-facilitated service, expert/automated treatment, and self-service consumer health management tools.
So what’s the challenge? Let’s look at just one type of technology — smartphone apps — as an example. Statista reports that as of June 2016, there were 2.2 million apps available for Android users, and 2 million available in Apple’s App Store (see Number Of Apps Available In Leading App Stores As Of June 2016). And Statista’s numbers from 2015 show that half the world’s population use mobile devices to access the Internet and had an estimated 100 billion cumulative downloads. Of those, 2.9% — 3.8 billion downloads since June — were health-related. Add to that other decision support tools, consumer education program, in-home monitoring systems, e-health platforms, care robots, and more … and you have challenging decision making.
Navigating your treatment technology decisions involves considering strategy, deciding on functionality needs, and thinking through the optimal consumer interfaces. With regard to the consumer interface issues, there are two rules of thumb to add to your deliberations:
- For an app to be effective, consumers must use it on a regular basis: Last year, I had a chance to sit down with David C. Mohr, Ph.D., director, Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies (CBIT), and Professor, Preventive Medicine, Northwestern University. His advice? To be effective, behavioral intervention apps require repeated consumer use, and provider organizations need to offer not just the app, but also consumer engagement strategies (see How Do You Pick The Right Health Care App?).
- Old operating processes and consumer interfaces won’t work: New tech adoptions will probably require a new approach to service operations and communication with consumers. Provider organizations can’t be resistant to changing operations in light of all the new technologies that are available (see The Problems With Bringing Apps To The Consumer Experience? The Volume, The Evidence & The Model).
So where is your organization on the treatment technology continuum? Consumer expectations for convenience are increasing, and they aren’t waiting for science. These days, people aren’t willing to wait for a scientific seal of approval to try new treatments and tools, especially if those are self-directed. Consumers want access to treatment, with or without the support of health care providers to approve or pay for them. Provider organizations can either keep up or be left behind (see Consumer-Directed Therapies – Where Consumer Use Has Outpaced Science and App Potential For Treatment Tech).
To start building your treatment technology selection process, take a look at my presentation from The 2015 OPEN MINDS Technology & Informatics Institute, How To Make Technology Work For You: Some Thoughts On Strategic Tech Success. And to look firsthand at a working evaluation process, don’t miss the session on November 10 at The 2016 OPEN MINDS Technology & Informatics Institute, “Selecting & Evaluating Mobile Technologies For Community Behavioral Health Care,” led by my colleague Sharon Hicks and Bruce L. Bird, Ph.D., chief executive officer at Vinfen. For more background on the VinFen tech selection model, check out my earlier post, The Problems With Bringing Apps To The Consumer Experience? The Volume, The Evidence & The Model. Can’t make it to D.C.? You can follow all of our institute coverage live on Twitter through our handle @openmindscircle or the hashtag #OMTechnology.
As you approach this next new wave of technology planning, keep in mind the words of author Douglas Adams, “We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works.”