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By Monica E. Oss

Thinking about implementing digital technology into your service lines? I think for most provider organizations, hybrid services (part face-to-face, part digital) will be essential—both to address consumer demands and to excel in value-based reimbursement arrangements (both reducing costs and improving performance). That was a constant theme of last week’s 2018 OPEN MINDS Technology & Informatics Institute and is reflected in our coverage of sessions from last week—Consumer Engagement = Performance, Failure To Launch, and What Should Your Organization Be Spending On Tech?.

If your management team is thinking about how to go from all face-to-face services to incorporating tech-enabled services, a new resource recently released by The American Medical Association provides a great framework—Digital Health Implementation Playbook. The framework has twelve key steps in going to digital. I’ve described each below and included some additional resources on each topic that you can find in the OPEN MINDS Industry Library.

Step 1: Identifying a need—Asked simply, where would digital health solutions help improve the performance of your organization? Most important to this step is understanding how making a digital adoption would bring improvements. Nothing is worse than putting a lot of time and effort into an investment you didn’t need in the first place. (For more, see 3 Steps To Leading A Digital Transformation In Your Organization and Does Your Organization Need A Digital Transformation? Is Your Team Ready?.)

Step 2: Forming the team—While “the team” isn’t in charge of the entire process of tech selection, adoption, and use (that’s the job of one leader who must champion the project), the process is still a team effort. Identify the staff, from all levels of the organization, who’s perspectives and competencies will drive the project to success. (For more, see IT Touches Everything and After ‘Reinventing’ The CFO, It’s The CIO’s Turn.)

Step 3: Defining success—Of course, what counts as “success” may be different from project to project, or organization to organization. It is important to develop a set of performance metrics in your strategic planning and the subsequent tech strategy for tech investments. (For more, see Your Insights For Tech Management & Strategy and Bad IT At Your Organization? Blame The Executive Team.)

Step 4: Evaluating the vendors—The field of vendor choices and technology solutions is vast. And with vendors routinely releasing new products, services, and purchasing options, making the decision on which one to go with will get more and more complicated. Before you begin, establish exactly what you need the new technology to do and what you’re looking for in a vendor organization. (For more, see Do You Need An EHR ‘Makeover’? and Thinking About Partnering With A Tech Start-Up?).

Step 5: Making the (business) case—A key part of evaluating both categories of technology and specific vendors are the likely returns-on-investment (ROI). ROI comes in many quantitative and qualitative forms and should be evaluated from three perspectives: strategic, clinical, and business. (For more, see Are “Strategic Technologies” Part Of Your Business Model? and Forget The Sizzle – We Need New Technology Business Models & Business Cases.)

Step 6: Contracting—Good vendor relationships start with a good contract. Contracts should reflect the expectations of both parties and include remedies for disputes and performance gaps. Get it all in writing. (For more, see Great EHR Performance Begins With Great EHR Selection and Do You Need An EHR ‘Makeover’?.)

Step 7: Designing the workflow—The ROI of any technology is only as good as its deployment. Potential ROI can be lost due to poor implementation or poor integration into work processes. Take the time to make sure service delivery design is changed to incorporate and take full advantage of the new technology. (For more, see No Workflow, No Tech Success and CRM As A Tech Essential.)

Step 8: Preparing the service delivery team—The right technology and the right process design will fail to produce results without a prepared service delivery team. Make sure you staff training program is up to the task. (For more, see Workforce Problems? Technology As Strategy and Planning For The Digital Reinvention Of Your Market.)

Step 9: Partnering with the consumer—New technologies will affect how services are delivered and how consumers receive services. Keep the consumer in mind. Make sure that the new technologies make the experience better for consumers and, if possible, include more consumer control in the equation. (For more, see Consumer Engagement = Performance and How Consumer Engagement Is Reshaping Service Delivery.)

Step 10: Implementing—The implementation of anything new, including technology, sets the stage for how successful the innovation will be. Executive teams need to pay attention to implementation planning and execution to own their processes and their functional requirements. Lack of ownership, or passive project management, is a sure first step to a less than optimal launch of new technology. (For more, see Getting That Return On Your Tech Investment and Don’t Implement Tech In A Bubble: Consider Your Strategy.)

Step 11: Evaluating success—Measuring and monitoring performance is a key to success in getting maximum returns from tech investments. Going back to how you defined “success” when you purchase the technology, measure those success metrics, and use them to make incremental adjustments to the tech deployment. (For more, see Technology ROI: Value-Based Purchasing For Executives and Return-On-Investment For Technology: A Decision Tool For Value-Based Purchasing For Behavioral Health & Social Service Executives.)

Step 12: Scaling—After the successful adoption of a new technology, its time to consider how you can take this tool to scale. Can the technology be expanded into other programs, or be utilized to serve other consumers? These developments are making tech-enabled services more than an experiment—they represent permanent changes in service delivery. (For more, see The Digital Decision Crossroads and Innovation Success In Three Steps.)

And for even more, join OPEN MINDS Senior Associate Joseph P. Naughton-Travers, Ed.M. for his Executive Seminar, Making The Right Tech Investments For Your Organization: An Executive Seminar On Technology Budgeting & Planning, on February 13 in Clearwater, Florida.

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